If you’ve ever discussed social media marketing for engineering companies with me, you will know that I’ve been hugely enthusiastic about Twitter as a traffic generator and YouTube as a Web tool and audience generator. However, I’ve always been quite doubtful about Facebook for industrial and techncial PR. Obviously, I’ve always recognised the benefits for brands in other sectors.

So, what’s changed? The first thing is that Facebook has made huge efforts to re-position itself as the only place on the Internet that you actually have to go. You are probably well aware of the launch of Facebook mail and Facebook Places. And the little box asking you to make Facebook your homepage has always been there of course. But have you also noticed the subtle re-positioning of the search box on Facebook? It’s now immediately above your information stream, almost as if they are saying 'this is the font from which all that wisdom flows'. 

And a vast amount of the influence your page can have on this search function is determined by how many people have ‘liked’ that page. This means that the only way to show up significantly in the world’s fastest growing search engine is to have a page on that search engine and take part in the popularity game it has created. Everything else you have ever done; all your links, all your Web site content and your entire on page optimisation strategy is of no value on Facebook at all. 

But it’s not only that that has changed. There has been a significant shift in the demographic that makes up Facebook’s user base. Huge numbers of people in their forties and fifties have become active users. It’s now fair to say that if your audience isn’t on Facebook it isn’t on the Internet. 

But one problem does still remain and that’s that many of the people using Facebook aren’t using it for work. They just don’t have their work heads on when they are visiting the site. But soon they will. Soon they will and when they do, you have to be ready. 

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