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Facebook keeps getting richer, as a user experience and as a place for businesses to build communities and advertise for customers. The site continues to grow because new users, merely curious at first, often become addicted to the site. Contrast that with many other social networks, where curious newcomers tend to kick the tires, get bored, and quit coming back.

Facebook offers a hard-to-beat mix of features. Brand pages and tabs are far more customizable than on other networks. The platform does a good job supporting text posts, photo sharing, video sharing, events, groups, bricks-and-mortar places, applications and more.

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Social calls to action (liking, commenting, joining, sharing, downloading) are prominent in the site experience, and they generate strong ripple effects that can be beneficial for brands. Social plug-ins make it easy to bring Facebook social features (such as the Like button) to your website and amplify your impact through the Facebook network. This system of adding social features to third-party websites was introduced as Facebook Connect, and is now known under the broader and more powerful toolset Facebook for Websites.

Especially powerful is Facebook tab development through its open API and app development framework. Whether you’re seeking to support a simple e-mail newsletter signup, or something more ambitious like an online sweepstakes, you can do it. App development like this is a great way to enhance your business page—and, as long as it’s accompanied by clear opt-in messaging, to bring member data back into your house file to build future relationships.

One of the things I like best about Facebook is the ambitious application development that goes on within it and through its huge and vibrant app developer community.

Mail a Postcard, for instance, is a new Facebook partnership with Postagram, in limited beta, which lets users send their Instagram photos to friends as printed postcards through regular postal mail for 99¢ per card.

For now, Mail a Postcard only allows individuals to mail their own photos to friends; it doesn’t work for public photos or photos from Facebook pages. So it’s not immediately useful for companies and brands, but it is a development I’m watching eagerly. Any company sending out millions of catalogs or directmail pieces would likely be interested in directing some of its print media budget to a more social, personalized postcard mailing to its Facebook community (perhaps with fan-exclusive offers), or encouraging mailings between fans and their friends.

 

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