by Susan Payton (MASHABLE)
Susan Payton is the Managing Partner of Egg Marketing & Public Relations, an Internet marketing firm specializing in blogger outreach, social media, and PR. She is also the blogger behind The Marketing Eggspert Blog.
With more than 300 million active users, Facebook is nearly the size of the United States in terms of population. In fact, odds are that you’re a Facebook user, perhaps using it to keep in touch with family and friends, with a dash of business thrown in for good measure. Maybe you look at some of the 2 billion photos uploaded each month, or contribute a few of the 40 million daily status updates. In short: Facebook is where it’s at, and you’re already there.
But what about your business? Does it use Facebook ()? If you’re a business owner, you really need to set up a Fan Page, or else you risk being left behind as more businesses shift to social networks like Facebook. This post is a beginner’s guide to setting up and getting the most out of a Page on Facebook for your business.
Facebook Pages 101
Facebook Pages are different than profiles. You have a profile for you, Jane Doe, but your business can’t have a profile — it can have a Page. A Page is a place to house all the pertinent information about your company. They’re so useful because you can include everything that relates to your business in one place with a built-in potential audience:
– Overview of company
– Website and contact info
– Press releases
– Blog RSS
– Twitter () updates
– Company news and status
– Customer interaction
One of the major benefits of a Page on Facebook over (or in addition to) a webpage is that it’s so simple to update. With a website, if you’re not technical, you have to contact your web developer, who will then charge you to make even a tiny change. With Facebook, updates are as easy as logging in and typing or uploading. The fresher your content, the more you will engage people.
Setting Up Your Page
Once you’ve logged in to Facebook, scroll to the bottom and click on Advertising. Then click Pages and Create a Page. Select the type of business you own and start filling in all the details. The more info you add, the better your page will be (and remember: Google () thinks highly of Facebook in its search engine results).
Make sure to include your company logo, any RSS blog feeds that are relevant, videos, images — the whole nine yards. Once you’re satisfied with the Page, publish it, then get ready to dive into promotion.
Enhance Your Page with Apps
You can also enhance your Facebook Page by adding applications to it. Apps add particular functions to your page, such as drawing in your blog’s RSS feed (the Social RSS app is a good example of this) or YouTube videos. They are a great way to further engage visitors to your Page and provide them reason to come back, and there are hundreds of apps designed to help you do business better on Facebook.
Another option you have is to internally develop a new app. Pizza Hut’s Order App which allowed fans to order their pizzas directly through Facebook was a huge hit, for example. Red Bull has a custom application on its Page that pulls in Twitter updates from all of the athletes they sponsor. Developing a custom app for your Facebook Fan Page can be pricey, but if you can afford it or have in-house development talent that can get the job done, it can be very rewarding.
Promoting a Page
The tricky thing about Facebook Pages is that you can’t friend someone the way you can from your profile. People can elect to become fans of your Page, but only if they know about it. So you’ve got to spread the word organically (and keep doing it) to introduce people to your Page and to your company.
First identify contacts from your profile that are either business connections, people working in a field related to your business, or who would otherwise benefit from the information your company provides, and invite them to become a fan of the Page. Send a short note explaining what you want to offer from the Page (remember, people are thinking “what’s in it for me?”) and include a link to the Page.
You should also promote your Page elsewhere online by putting a Facebook Page button on your website to help others find it, spreading the word on Twitter if you’re there (and you should be), sending out an email notification, or putting a link on your business cards. Do whatever it takes to help people know that you’re on Facebook and you want them to become a part of your community.
Get the Most Out of Your Page
If you’ve got a brand that already has a strong following like Zappos.com or True Lemon, a Facebook Page can be a great way to launch a community. Encourage discussion among fans by asking questions like: “what’s your favorite product?” or “what could we do to improve our product?” Post updates weekly, if not daily and point your fans to any off-site promotions, such as giveaways hosted on different web sites.
And keep it fun! Nobody likes straight up business all the time! Zappos, for example, has crazy videos and posts that aren’t related to shoes, which is why their fan base is well over 21,000.
It will take time to build your fan base, so remember to keep sending out invites to new contacts asking if they want to become a fan of your business Page. Constantly promote the Page in any way possible, and keep your content fresh — give people a reason to check in on your page regularly.
Check your analytics: before long you should see a large portion of your website’s referrals coming from Facebook!
Wrapping it Up
Your Facebook efforts will be ongoing, so plan to dedicate a few hours each week to getting new fans and updating content. You’ll quickly appreciate the instant ability to connect with customers and future customers through this social media tool!