A newbie's guide to Facebook

We examine the fast-growing social networking site and detail its offerings from a business and personal perspective

So, what is Facebook? It's all those things mentioned above and more. It's an online dating service; a chat room; a worldwide phone directory; an e-mail account; a photo, video and file-sharing warehouse (with unlimited file storage); a place to join or create new clubs or social forums (called Groups); a personal bulletin board (called the Wall); a social calendar (called Events); free advertising in the Marketplace; personal blogs (called Notes); a voter registration service; and even more.

Creative business solutions

In this case, more means lots of creative opportunities for businesses, bands and other groups and organizations. For example, with Facebook's social ads, members can create a home page "Sponsored Story" where businesses can promote their products and/or services through the news feed feature, which provides continual updates about what a user's friends are doing. And expanding on that function is the Facebook "Sponsored Group," where businesses can "message blast" registered group members through Facebook's internal e-mail system.

In addition, companies can create mini Web sites (called Facebook pages) where companies, bands, celebrities and politicians can design custom profiles for their business or career. It's sort of like an online brochure/resume/advertisement of your products, services and skills.

Other business opportunities include the Facebook developer's platform (for companies that want to build applications to interface with Facebook) and the Facebook polls for statistical analysis and demographics. Here's a blog that discusses more business possibilities.

And here's a look at Facebook vs. LinkedIn: Which is better for business?


But the site has had its share of controversy. Last month, Facebook responded to user protests and made it easier for members to delete their accounts and all associated data.

It earlier took a lot of heat for its advertising tracking service called Beacon that many deemed to be too intrusive into users' privacy. In December, Facebook responded to the criticism and let users turn off the feature.

In 2006, Facebook was widely lambasted for its news feed component, also because of privacy concerns. Zuckerberg apologized and instituted better privacy controls.

Michael Greene, an analyst at JupiterResearch, says the news feed program has developed into one of the site's better features, especially for businesses. "By allowing users to quickly scan their friends' updates, it has helped turn Facebook into a daily addiction for many users and allowed Facebook to develop innovative browsing options such as its iPhone application."

In each case, Facebook acted to address member complaints. Greene says Facebook "has a tremendous track record for considering their members and responding to their needs."

Facebook's strength, Greene notes, is its ability to link people together in networks, whether geographically based or centered around a school or employer, and provide a fun, highly usable communications platform for friends within these networks.

And the site is continuing to evolve and build on that strength. Recently it rolled out new privacy controls that determine who gets to see members' data, and announced it was developing an online chat service.

Related story: A guide to privacy controls in Facebook

Sartain is a freelance writer in the US. She can be reached at julesds@comcast.net.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Julie Sartain

Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?