How Facebook works

Facebook lets individuals and businesses display information, pictures and videos, and communicate with each other. Facebook users can:

  • create a profile
  • add other users as 'friends'
  • exchange messages with friends
  • view other users' profiles, either partially or in full (each Facebook user controls the privacy settings of their profile, deciding how much is visible to other users).

Anybody aged 13 years or over can register as a Facebook user. No special software is needed — you just visit the Facebook site and supply a name and email address. Users can access Facebook from a desktop or laptop computer, or from an internet-enabled mobile device (e.g. smartphone or tablet).

Profiles on Facebook

To establish a profile, you need to join Facebook by supplying a real name and valid email address. Facebook will then take you through the process of filling out your profile. Your profile is a quick summary of who you are and what your interests are. It's generally a good idea to also include a photograph with your profile.

Using your profile, you can connect to friends, family, co-workers and others who share your interests. Profiles are for individuals and not for business identities. If you want to promote your business, you need to create a page.

Groups on Facebook

Once you create a profile, you can also join Facebook groups that are based on shared interests and experiences. Popular groups include:

  • past or present students from a particular school or university
  • past or present staff from a particular workplace
  • people with an interest in a particular activity or issue (e.g. a certain sport, hobby, or social or political cause)
  • people who are fans of a particular celebrity, band, TV show or similar.

Facebook users can also organise their friends into groups — for example, 'My running team', 'Family', 'Business contacts', and so on.

Pages on Facebook

You can create a Facebook page for your business, place, company, organisation, brand, or product, in order to connect with your customers. Public figures and celebrities also create Facebook pages to connect with their fans.

Facebook's 'Create a Page' process will guide you through setting up a page by asking you a series of questions about your business.

Connecting on Facebook

Most Facebook users use the site to interact with their Facebook friends. You can:

  • post status updates on the section of your profile known as your 'timeline' (an update can be some text, a photo, a video, a link to a website, or a 'check in' at a particular location)
  • post messages or share content on your friends' walls
  • use Facebook's private messaging function, which lets you exchange messages with selected friends. You can communicate in real time if your friends are online, or leave a private message for someone when they log back in.

Advertising on Facebook

If you have a Facebook account, you can pay to create an advertisement or sponsor a story that will appear to Facebook users who may be receptive to your message. If you would like to create an ad or sponsored story, Facebook's business page will take you through a step-by-step process to identify your audience and target your advertising.

Also consider...