As the world's largest social networking site, Facebook is a modern-day phenomenon. It is also here to stay, with almost half the UK population actively using this cutting-edge social media tool. The majority of regular internet users already have a Facebook profile, and it’s often the first port of call for communications - from announcing births and deaths through to sharing news stories and discussing customer service issues.
By providing each individual with a dedicated profile page, Facebook is endlessly customisable, while the sheer number of registered users makes it easy to cultivate a broad network of online friends, followers or customers. Whether or not you have an account, Facebook is one of the most powerful influences in (and on) modern society. To ensure nobody is left behind by this fast-moving phenomenon, a wide variety of Facebook courses are now being offered, aimed at everyone from internet novices through to business professionals.
The world at their feet
To understand Facebook’s status as one of the world’s most influential companies, it’s worth taking a moment to consider the scale of a company founded in 2004 by undergraduates at Harvard University. In the third quarter of 2013 alone, Facebook generated $1.8 billion in advertising revenue, and its global reach is reflected by regional offices in locations as diverse as Stockholm, Sydney, Seoul and Sao Paulo.
Recently, Facebook has started taking over other companies and merging their operations into its own. Acquisitions have included advertising package Atlas and photography application Instragram, which has long been a market leader in digital photography. By providing these additional services, Facebook hopes to become a one-stop shop for all forms of online and digital communications, while its huge user base draws in blue-chip advertisers.
Face to face
In recognition of the fact that everyone approaches Facebook with varying levels of prior knowledge and confidence, Facebook courses are effectively divided into two very distinct types of learning experience:
1. Overviews for novices.
Many people are wholly unfamiliar with Facebook, often finding its concept rather intimidating. It’s sometimes said that social media is something young people do, with little relevance to older generations. Of course, the reality couldn’t be more different, and these introductory courses in Facebook will give even internet novices or social media refuseniks the chance to dabble with Facebook, often for the first time.
Although course curriculums vary widely, students will typically be shown how to create and modify a personal profile, before moving onto basic functionalities like connecting with friends and relatives, uploading images, and choosing privacy settings. These courses are an ideal way for people to discover the simplicity and potential of a platform that claims to have over 725 million daily active users.
2. Courses for business people
Corporate-focused Facebook courses will generally assume a degree of awareness and platform competence among their attendees. Rather than teaching the basics of social media, they typically discuss how a social media outlet originally designed for individuals can offer real benefits to companies as well. These business-oriented courses range from theoretical classes through to hands-on workshops, with the former focusing on the principles underpinning social media, and how this global phenomenon is changing everything from customer service to channels of advertising. Attendees will learn how to achieve maximum visibility and increase their company’s Facebook audience, as well as improving customer relations and gaining market share.
Meanwhile, other Facebook courses are geared around practical demonstrations of successful business strategies, increasing audience engagement, and maximising each company’s social media presence. As a marketing tool for communicating with existing (and potential) customers, Facebook is rivalled only by Twitter, the other social media giant, and these instantly-accessible forums require a very different customer service ethos to the traditional postal or telephone-based service channels.
Five Facebook favourites: Facebook’s other uses
It’s a common misapprehension that Facebook is merely used for keeping up to date with social events and gossip. Here are five other things the platform is commonly used for:
1. Gaming. Many interactive and online games are now exclusively hosted on Facebook, with some of the leading titles boasting tens of millions of players.
2. Customer service. Rather than phoning a call centre or sending a letter, people now use Facebook to register customer service queries, complaints or feedback.
3. Recruitment. Prospective employers regularly examine interviewees’ Facebook profiles, looking for evidence of their character in historic posts and photographs.
4. Photography. Facebook has become one of the world’s leading photo libraries, where people and companies publish images of events, locations, news stories and more.
5. Phone and video calls. It’s now possible to conduct phone and video calls with other Facebook users, combining social media with conventional communication channels.
By Neil Cumins