Nice timing: Facebook debuts “Facebook for Business”

Wed Jul 27, 2011 10:14am EDT

On Tuesday Facebook debuted a step-by-step online guide aimed at helping small businesses use the social networking site. The company is billing the new web page, found at Facebook.com/business, as an “online education center” that gives directions on such things as how to set up a profile page, create targeted ads and deals, and interact with customer feedback online.

The timing is interesting, as it comes just a week after Google began shutting off all company profiles on its Google+ social network. The search engine giant says it’s just company policy to restrict Google+ access to individual users, a stance that has inspired a good deal of controversy in recent days.

Facebook’s new business web page does not come along with any new features — it simply puts a lot of information that may be handy for small businesses in one place. Perhaps most importantly, it serves as a nicely timed reminder that unlike Google+, Facebook encourages companies to use its service for company branding. “Facebook allows small businesses to create rich social experiences, build lasting relationships and amplify the most powerful type of marketing –- word of mouth,” a Facebook spokesperson wrote in an email on Tuesday afternoon. “We created Facebook.com/business to make it even easier for people to reach these objectives and grow.”

This represents the second time in a month that Facebook has followed up Google+ news with its own feature launch. Earlier in July, Facebook announced a partnership with Skype to bring video-chat features within the social networking site — just one week after Google+ made waves with its own in-app video-chat feature called Hangouts.

The timing of these events could certainly be coincidental, but it does look like Facebook is taking Google’s recent entry into the social-networking landscape seriously and is increasing its feature updates and user satisfaction initiatives in turn. The new competition may be stressful for Zuckerberg and company, but ultimately it’s great for consumers if both Google and Facebook continue to bring their A games.

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