How Does Facebook Work?

A Basic Overview of Facebook

How Facebook Works
•••  Credit: Prykhodov | Getty Images

With over a billion users, Facebook is the most widely used social network by individuals and businesses.

Initially, Facebook started as a social network for students at Harvard, and later expanded to other colleges. In September 2006, the network was opened up to anyone, age of 13 or older, that had a valid email address. The network has allowed people to connect with old school mates, family overseas, and more.

However, its uses aren't just in being social. Through Facebook, you can connect with your clients and customers, and build your business credibility and reputation to reach your market.

The Inner Workings of Facebook

Many people use Facebook for fun and entertainment, to post information, interact with friends and family, and enjoy themselves through games.

Facebook Profiles

Users create a "Profile" where they can have their picture of themselves, as well as a larger cover photo, and information about their education, work, marital status, interests, and more. A users main profile page has their feed, which includes the items they post, or items posted by others directly onto their feed. Customizable tabs just below the cover photo allow the user links to other information such as "About," "Photos," "Friends," "Groups," "Events," "Videos," and more. Running to the left of the profile news feed is also information about the user, photos, and friends.

Users can access their profile through a direct link or by clicking their name in menu running along the top of the Facebook page. 

Facebook Friends

Facebook users can make "friends" with others by either accepting a friend request sent to them, or by sending a friend request to others. With your permission, Facebook can search your email contacts to find people that have a Facebook profile so you can easily friend them.

Or you can use the search box at the top of the Facebook page to find your friends. 

Keeping Up with Friends

You can keep up with your friends' activities by clicking on the "Home" link at the top of Facebook. This takes you to your news feed. Facebook frequently changes its algorithm so what you see on this page can vary, but theoretically, this is where you'll see your friends' posts. According to Facebook, "

Posts that you see first are influenced by your connections and activity on Facebook. The number of comments, likes and reactions a post receives and what kind of story it is (example: photo, video, status update) can also make it more likely to appear higher up in your News Feed.

What you see on your news feed can be adjusted in your Facebook Settings.

Your news feed runs down the center of the page (on computers). To the left you can see links to other features such as "Messenger" (direct messages to friends and others), "Shortcuts" to your groups, and "Explore" to find "Events," "Saved" posts, and more.

To the right of your news feed you'll find "Stories" (short photo/video collections that you can view twice and disappear after 24 hours...a sort of Snapchat for Facebook). On the left you'll also see information about your "Pages," if you have any, event invites, friends' upcoming birthdays, and sponsored content (ads).


How the News Feed Works

While Facebook will provide you with status updates and other activity of your "friends," it will also send you other content. Similar to Google, Facebook pays attention to what its users do, and will provide information based on user activity. For example, it will look at the similar connections people share. When you’re connected with Friend A and Friend B, Facebook will suggest that Friend A and Friend B also become friends. This networking helps to connect people all around the world.

Facebook also pays attention to the things you like, offers you click on, and what you share, and uses this information to make recommendations or delivered sponsored content. It might seem creepy, until you realize what a benefit this can be in promoting your home business. 


Facebook Settings

For a long time, there was an ongoing battle between Facebook and it's users over privacy. If you're hyper-concerned about your privacy, it's best to stay off all social media. With that said, Facebook does offer the ability to set up privacy and other settings. In your settings, you can decide who can see your feed (i.e. only friends), who can contact you, and who can search for you through Facebook.

Facebook Pages

Facebook sets a friend limit of 5,000, but fortunately, for people who want to use Facebook to promote a business, it offers "Pages." Instead of "friends," pages generate fans or "Likes." Authors, speakers, home business owners, and large corporations, all use fan pages to share information and interact with their leads and customers (see below for using Facebook for business).

Facebook Groups

Although your fans can comment on your Page posts, pages aren't as interactive as some people like. Groups are a great way for people of like minds to connect over a hobby or interests. For businesses, it's a great way to have interaction with a target market. Many entrepreneurs use groups to run mastermind groups, or answer questions of people who buy their products or memberships.

Facebook Live

Facebook has long had the ability to upload video, but Facebook live is a newer video option. Instead of filming and then uploading a video, you can film live directly from and to Facebook.  

Getting Started on Facebook

Signing up for Facebook is fast and free. All you need is a name and email.

Facebook Profile

Once you have an account, you fill in your profile where you can add a profile picture, a cover photo, a bio and other information you want to share. Note, if you don't want the world to know something about you, don't post it on Facebook.

Through your email, Facebook can search and find your contacts that also have profiles on Facebook so you can "friend" them. If they accept your friend request, you'll be considered friends, and you'll begin to see their Facebook posts and they'll see yours.

Another way to find friends is through the Friend Finder. Click on the people icon at the top of the page to see your friend requests and access the Friend Finder. You might know these people or you might not. Facebook suggests them based on the friends you're connected to. Note that you might get friend requests from people you don't know. You have to decide if you want to connect to strangers, but be careful. Many strange folk and scammers use Facebook to find people. A safe rule of thumb is to only accept requests from strangers if many of your trusted connections are already friends with him. Facebook lets you know how many and who are mutual friends so you can decide if you want to accept the friend request.

Getting Active on Facebook

You can chat with, send messages, and write notes to your friends through Facebook, making it a great way to stay connected. Facebook has discussion groups on nearly every topic and many people and businesses have pages, which you can "like" to be a fan of, get news and updates, and even coupons or discounts. Facebook also offers a host of games and activities. 

Because Facebook is a social media platform, being social is crucial to being a good friend. That means, you don't want to do all the talking, but also, you want to interact with others on their feeds. Along with posting your own content, you can like, comment and share other people's content, as well. 

Facebook Mobile

With the growing use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, Facebook has moved to be more mobile friendly. The platform looks different on a mobile device through the Facebook app, but all the features are still there, such as your feed. You can post text, pictures, or video onto Facebook from your mobile device. In fact, many use their mobile device to Facebook Live stream. 

How Facebook Can Work for Your Home Business

Facebook can also be an effective way to inexpensively promote your home or small business. Because Facebook limits the number of profile friends to 5,000, a Facebook page is a better option as it allows for unlimited fans.

Facebook Page for Home Business

Like any other tool used to reach your market, you want to have a plan for how you'll use your fan page. Like a profile page, you can have photo and cover, but in this case, you can have graphics of you and your products. Fan pages offer a few more business-oriented bells and whistles, such as the ability to have a call-to-action button just below your cover photo. This can be a place to ask fans to sign up for your email list, contact you for a consult, or visit your sales page. 

A Facebook Page is also a great way to keep your followers up-to-date on what's going on in your business. For example, you can share your blog posts or special offers. You can share videos and photos of behind-the-scenes or tutorials related to your business. Similar to blog themes, you can have Facebook Post themes, such as Tip Tuesday or Throwback Thursday, where you share information or ask your fans to engage with you. You can add events (in-person announcements or online through Facebook) to your page.

You can generate "fans" by promoting your page on other social media and your website or blog, inviting others to “like” (formerly, become a fan of) your Facebook business page

The only downside of Facebook Pages is that Facebook now limits the number of fans see your posts on their feed. Because of this, many of your fans might not see that you've posted a new coupon or tip unless you "Boost" (pay) the post. 

Facebook Groups for Home Business

More and more consumers are wanting to engage with the businesses they buy from. A way to do this, without having to add a forum to your website, is through a Facebook Group, where you can have discussions with your clients, customers, and prospects. Groups allow for easier conversation than fan pages, because members can post questions or comments directly to the group feed. Further, because Facebook now limits how many fans will see your page posts, groups can be a better way make sure everyone is seeing what you're sharing. 

You can use a Facebook group for home business in many ways. For example, it can be a place where people who've bought your product or service to connect with you and each other. Many information entrepreneurs use Facebook groups as part of their package where people who buy the information can ask questions, share their successes, and network. 

Facebook Events for Home Business

You can promote an event and/or host an online event through Facebook as well. Not only can you let people know about the event, but also, you can have discussions around the event on Facebook. Facebook makes it easy to invite your "friends" who can RSVP through the event page. 

As a home business owner, you can use events to launch a new product, a customer appreciation event, or a celebration (such as your business anniversary). For example, many authors have online Facebook events for their book launches, where people can come to the page at a certain time to talk with the author, enter to win prizes, and more. 

Facebook Ads for Home Business

Facebook offers a few paid advertising options as well. You can "boost" a post that has lots of engagement so that more people see it. Or you can create a pay-per-click ad that runs on Facebook. One of the great benefits of Facebook ads over other PPC networks, such as Google Adwords, is the ability to highly target who sees the ad. You can target your followers specifically, or your market by demographics, such as gender, age, location, interest, and more. 

Ads show up on news feeds, as well as on the right-hand side of the Facebook feed. 

Is it Time to Put Facebook to Work for You?

You have many choices when it comes to social media marketing. The first rule of social media success in home business is to be on the networks your market uses. With over a billion users, chances are good that a large number of your potential clients/customers are using Facebook, making it a safe bet to market your home business.