I've heard this question get asked on forums - often by photographers who never jumped on board and just wish that Facebook would die a quick death so they never have to deal with it. Well, last night I attended a talk put on by the San Diego iMarketers group on the use of social media in marketing. What was most interesting to me was a comment towards the end that killed any notion that Facebook and it's fellow social media sites were on their way out.
One of the panelists worked for a web consulting firm that works with high-profile clients such as ESPN. He made the point that, for his clients, at the beginning of last year social media drove something like 11% of sales. By the end of last year, it accounted for almost half of sales. This year, social media will become a bigger driver of sales than search (such as Google, Yahoo, etc.)
This is something of a revolution. For years now, the holy grail of marketing has been to appear at the top of searches for topics like "Dallas wedding photographer." If we can't get to the top "organically," we then pay for ads on a per click basis. Within the wedding industry, websites like theknot.com have made a healthy profit out of aggregating photography sites and getting them in front of clients. Now social media like Facebook, Pinterest etc are on the brink of destroying this regime and will no doubt rewrite all the rules for internet marketing.
So the answer is that not only is Facebook not going away, it's more important than ever to use it in our marketing. From what I saw, there's some powerful tools that we can expect over the next year our so that will allow us to tap into it more and more. But the most important component of Facebook marketing is the "Like" button. If you're not currently using it, start. If you're only using it once on your website, use it more.
Every blog post must have a "Like" button for sharing. Posting photos to Facebook for sharing and tagging is every bit as important as posting to the blog. One advantage to posting photos to Smugmug.com is the fact that each and every photo comes with "Like" button attached. The key is to use social media to engage buyers and encourage them share your content with their friends. It's only gaining in importance so the more you can make it your friend, the more prosperous you'll become.
(Portraits of renowned mural artist Mark Deren.)