By  on October 20, 2011

Is Facebook, a platform that was initially launched as a way for people to connect and share, now a tool for big business? Not exactly, but Chris Barbour, Facebook marketing strategist, said that businesses and brands can find much that’s compelling in the model. “When businesses leverage the Facebook opportunity, it all centers around building and maximizing essential connections,” said Barbour at the Digital Forum. “Fans are just the beginning. You can learn from them and build deeper relationships with them, but when you want to launch a new product or promotion to drive sales, the small amount of buzz generated through a Facebook fan page isn’t enough. There are new ways people are connecting and sharing.”

When Facebook realized how passionate people were about brands, it knew there was an opportunity for commerce. “We realized it’s not just the relationship between people — its the relationship that people have with the things around them, including brands and products,” Barbour said. “We all live in networks, and within a person’s own network, there are 10 critically close and essential people. The reality is that e-mail, phones, chat and text have enabled us to be more closely connected. But those [devices] have not had a unifying framework to them.”

Facebook recently introduced Timeline, which Barbour said is a complete overhaul of personal profiles. Timeline’s concept is: What if you could see your whole life in one place? And you practically can, as Timeline lets you share and highlight your most memorable posts, photos and life events. “This is where you can tell your story from beginning, to middle, to now,” the company said in a promotional video Barbour showed.

Barbour characterized Facebook as a human loom. “It’s the tool that will enable me to weave those things together that is the tapestry that is myself,” he said, adding, “the movies I’ve seen, places I’ve been, books I’ve read, brands that are important to me. Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. How does that relate to your businesses? We believe businesses will be better in a more connected world. There are 800 million people connected worldwide to Facebook, that is so critical to your businesses.”

People and their networks can deliver credible and authentic messages to consumers. “Social commerce is getting advice and inspiration from trusted individuals and converting it,” Barbour said. “Purchases are shared on News Feed, and News Feed is shared with all my friends. My friends will go out and buy that product. No other platform in the world enables you to bring your authentic and wholly crafted robust identity. Twitter is relatively anonymous identities. Facebook is an easy way for a consumer to interact with a brand.”

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