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Boosting Business With a Facebook Fan Page

The potential to spark a word-of-mouth wildfire is tremendous--while the startup costs are next to nothing.

Some of your business's most valuable assets are its fans--the brand evangelists who sing the praises of your products and services--with or without you knowing about it. On Facebook, you have access to a choir of more than 350 million potential fans. Enlist a tiny percentage of the most vocal members to be your loyal Facebook Fans, and you can quickly spark a word-of-mouth wildfire. The potential is tremendous, while the startup costs are next to nothing--only a small amount of your time to create a Facebook Fan Page and two to three hours per week maintaining it.

A Fan Page is like a Facebook member's profile page, but for businesses instead of individuals. Your Fan Page becomes your businesses center of operations on Facebook. You can use it to highlight specific products and services, post status updates to keep customers and prospects informed, and get Fans excited about upcoming events, product and service launches or enhancements, and related campaigns.

Build a great Fan Page, pack it with relevant and compelling content, and soon your page will begin to attract Fans. When Fans interact with your Page, these interactions appear in their News Feeds, where their Facebook Friends can find out about your Fan Page and help spread the word.

Laying the Groundwork
A Fan Page is free, but you don't want it to look cheap. Invest as much time preparing your page as you would spend crafting a quality advertisement for your business. Before creating your Fan Page, prepare the following:

  • Purpose: It's called social media, not social selling. Use your Fan Page to make and maintain friendships, warm up cold prospects, and build community and trust. Treat your Facebook Fans as friends.
  • Page name: Choose a name for your page that customers and prospects are likely to recognize. The company or brand name on your business card is a good place to start.
  • Quality image: Use your company logo or a high-quality photo of the No. 1 product you want to showcase--something that puts a recognizable face on your business.
  • Valuable content: Content is key in turning Fans into customers and customers into Fans. Avoid using the Fan Page as merely an online catalog. Posting tips on how customers can enhance their experience with a particular product, or soliciting feedback on a current product or service, is much better.

Creating Your Fan Page

Creating a Fan Page is easy once you know where to access the feature. Scroll to the bottom of any Facebook screen, click Advertising, click Pages, click Create a Page, and follow the on-screen instructions.

Caution: Choose the category and page name carefully; you cannot change them later. Try out different categories and subcategories first to determine the types of information you can enter for each. You can delete each test page and run through the steps again to create a new one under the category you find most suitable.

After creating your company's Fan Page, flesh it out with some content:

  • Profile picture: Rest the mouse pointer over the big question mark in the upper left corner of the Page, click Change Picture, Upload a Picture, and then upload your image.
  • Description: Click Add information to this Page (below the picture) and type a brief but detailed description of whatever the page is about.
  • Information: On the Info tab, click Edit Information and enter basic and detailed information about your company, website, products, services, mission, and so forth. (The available fields vary according to the category and subcategory you selected.) When you're done, click Save Changes.

Tip: Post Status Updates or other content at least three to four times a week to attract Fans and keep them engaged. You can post Status Updates to the Page's Wall, or post Photos, Videos, Events, and Notes on separate tabs, all of which are included in the default Fan Page.

Expanding Content With Facebook Apps
Consider using Facebook Applications to engage Fans. You can use the Events App to announce special occasions, such as a grand opening or a conference or trade show your business will be attending. You can post a Note to focus the spotlight on your Fan of the Month or announce the results of a recent contest or award. Use your imagination to think up clever uses for Facebook Apps.

Tip: If you maintain your own blog, set up a feed on the Notes tab to automatically display entries from your blog on your Notes page. To set up a feed, click Edit Page (below the photo box), Edit, Import a Blog (under Notes Settings), and follow the on-screen instructions.

To further enhance your page, add business apps from third-party developers. Following are some examples:

  • Promotions for Fan Pages enables you to run branded interactive promotions on your Fan Page, including sweepstakes, contests, coupon giveaways, instant wins, gifting, and quizzes.
  • Testimonials and Reviews enable you to collect customer testimonials and product and service reviews from Facebook Fans and display them on your page.
  • Eventbrite provides tools for bringing people together for an event and selling tickets. If your company is hosting a cause marketing-related fundraiser, this app could come in very handy.
  • Polls make it easy to create online polls and analyze results with graphs that illustrate user responses across multiple demographics.

Promoting Your Fan Page
After creating a great Fan Page, spread the word about it.

  • Become your own fan. Pull up your personal profile and then visit your company's Fan Page and click the Become a Fan button (to the right of the page title). When you become a Fan, all your Facebook Friends are notified via their News Feeds.
  • Invite your Friends. Send a Message to Facebook Friends you think will be interested in the company Fan Page.
  • Send Updates to Fans. If you have something to offer that's really good, you can click the Send an Update to Fans link (found below your page's picture).
  • Place a Fan Box or Page Badge on your website or blog. Open your Fan Page and click Promote with a Fan Box (below the photo box). Click Fan Box or Page Badges and follow the instructions.
  • Place a Share icon on your website or blog. On the page where you can create a Fan Box or Page Badge, click Share to obtain a code to paste on your company website or blog allowing visitors to share your content with their Friends on Facebook.
  • Give your Page its own vanity URL. Go to facebook.com/username, where you can claim a vanity URL--a web page address that more clearly and simply reflects the Page title.

Note: Facebook is very particular about the way you promote your page. Visit www.facebook.com/pages/manage/promo_guidelines.php, where you can find additional guidance on promoting your Facebook Page outside Facebook.

Mikal E. Belicove co-authored The Complete Idiot's Guide to Facebook with Joe Kraynak (Penguin Group USA/Alpha Books, 2010), and is a business strategist specializing in content development, market analysis, and messaging/positioning for individuals and businesses of all sizes. Belicove's latest book, 2009 Internet Directory: Web 2.0 Edition, is available now at fine booksellers everywhere, and you can read his monthly column on social media marketing and website promotion, management, usability, and design in Entrepreneur magazine. When he is not working, Belicove can be found musing about the world on Belicove.com and can be reached at Mikal@Belicove.com.

Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media, and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook, is now available at bookstores. For more information, visit MikalBelicove.com.

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