Putting Facebook to work

Published 8:30 am Wednesday, July 21, 2010

FRANKLIN—Starting out in 2004 as a utility to connect college students, social networking website Facebook’s reach has steadily grown in recent years. The site now boasts more than 400 million active users.

Facebook is second only to search engine Google in terms of web traffic, according to Alexa, a company that monitors Internet traffic.

With that reach, there’s no wonder more businesses and organizations are logging on to connect with existing customers and draw in new ones.

“It’s the new way that the younger people are communicating,” said Carlton Cutchin, who owns Ace Hardware in Franklin. “You have to keep up with the times.”

Cutchin said Ace has been on Facebook for about two years and the page is mainly used to put out information about sales and other “helpful tidbits.”

“People ask questions and we can communicate with our customers,” he said. Cutchin now has his sights on another social networking site—Twitter—but he is still working on how to capitalize on that for his business.

Across town at Alphabet Soup, owner Gerry Patnesky said she’s been using Facebook for about eight months and is “very pleased” with the results.

Both Patnesky and Shannon Bicknell at the Peanut Patch Gift Shoppe in Courtland said Facebook offers them the opportunity to advertise for free.

“I thought, ‘Gee, what a great cheap way to reach out to my customers and tell them about what’s going on at Alphabet Soup,’ ” Patnesky said of the decision to join Facebook.

Bicknell said The Peanut Patch has been using Facebook for three or four months and it helps keep the business and its customers connected.

“It’s a good way to let the local people know about what’s coming in the store, any sales we’re having or any current events,” she said.

Bicknell said The Peanut Patch also uses Facebook to give back to the community by participating in the “We Give a Dime” campaign organized by The Tidewater News. For every Facebook fan, the shop donates 10 cents to the American Cancer Society.

According to statistics on the Facebook website, 50 percent of the 400 million active users log on in any given day. Business owners say using the website has helped bring more people in the doors.

“It seems to be the current fad right now,” Bicknell said. “People are on Facebook all the time.”