Written By: June Bachman, Teresa Mitchell, Wendy Ogryzek ~
As I'm sure you are already aware, Facebook is one of the largest social networking sites dedicated to connecting people. In fact, Facebook is the second most trafficked website, second only to Google. That being said ... if you are an entrepreneur, it is imperative to create a presence on Facebook for your business. After all, your customers, prospects, potential fans and competitors are already spending time on Facebook.
Facebook can assist and support the extension of your brand and the growth of your business. It is an extremely cost effective tool for advertising new products and services, as well as communicating with your customers and prospects. Facebook can also be used to assist with recruiting employees, finding business partnerships, advertising events and expanding your fan base.
There are three different applications from which you can interact on Facebook - Profiles, Groups and Pages. Each application serves a specific goal.
- Profiles - a place for individuals to share information and connect with others.
- Groups - a place where people come together around a common issue or interest.
- Pages - a place for a business, brand, celebrity, or non-profit to create a presence.
When creating a Facebook presence for your business, you have a choice to make between Groups and Pages. Facebook Groups may work for your business, but as mentioned above, Groups are based upon a common interest. Some of the specific features related to Groups are:
- Groups are only available to registered Facebook users.
- Groups allow "bulk invite."
- Groups can be created by any user and about any topic - as a place where users can share opinions and interest in subject matter.
Facebook Pages, on the other hand, work for all businesses and organizations. Some of the specific benefits related to Pages are:
- Fan pages are public and also indexed by the search engines – anyone can view your Page and they don’t have to be a registered Facebook user.
- Fan pages provide you with visitor statistics with their “Insights Dashboard.”
Facebook Fan Pages also have specific criteria to be followed:
- Fan pages must represent a real public figure, artist, brand or organization.
- Fan pages must be created only by an official representative of the public figure, artist, brand or organization.
Some businesses have created their Facebook presence by creating a profile account for their business. This is NOT the correct way to represent your business on Facebook. Furthermore, businesses who create profile accounts run the risk of their accounts being terminated by Facebook for violating the Terms of Service (https://www.facebook.com/terms.php). It really isn’t worth risk. Think about all of the work you put in to creating your profile, adding friends and building your community … only to have the entire profile terminated from the Facebook network.
The Facebook Terms of Service state outright that you are prohibited from engaging in commercial activity for your Personal Profile, “You will not send or otherwise post unauthorized commercial communications to users." Furthermore, an organization is prohibited from creating a Facebook personal profile account. By using Facebook, you "agree not to use the service or site to:
- register for more than one user account.
- register for a user account on behalf of an individual other than yourself
- register a user account on behalf of any group or entity."
This means that you MUST set up a Fan Page - if you want your business to have a presence on Facebook. Facebook will terminate the profile account when these rules are broken. Facebook is increasing their monitoring to find those who are breaking the rules. Direct sales pitches from your profile account will serve as a red flag to Facebook.
To realize the business benefits put your energy into building a Fan Page. Fan page benefits include:
- Facebook fan pages are public, and search engines can index these pages. A fan page will help your search engine optimization efforts:
- Your Fan page and website may be found via Google and Bing.
- Fan pages are public; anyone can view them even if they don’t have a Facebook account.
- Fan pages allow for an unlimited number of fans, while a profile page will limit your number of friends to 5000.
- You can send updates to your fans, which is a great way to expand your brand awareness. Your updates are displayed on your fans’ news feeds, for all of their friends to see.
- Send messages about new products, updates, and events.
- You control the page updates and edits, so changes can occur quickly and swiftly.
- Extend your reach – virally. When a fan joins your page, it is published on their News Feed for all (of their friends) to read.
- You can post updates, links, photos and videos on the wall (space on each user’s account where content can be posted and viewed by all friends) ... which provides access to the News Feeds of your fans (this content will show up on your fan's news feeds as well). Better yet ... when your fans like and comment on wall posts you receive instant feedback.
- It is also really easy for your fans to forward messages from you, to others in their network.
- Building a Fan Page is free and easy.
- Multiple Fan Pages- You can have as many fan pages as you need ... (but are limited to only one profile account).
- There are many types of features you can include on your fan page - you are able to engage with your fans using rich media forms.
- Coupons, Donations - If you publish a coupon, or solicit a charitable donation, the post will appear in the news feed streams of all of your fans.
- Combine this with links to specific tabs on your Fan pages, or even an external website to drive traffic where you want it to go.
- Use a polling application (applications are small software products you can incorporate into your Fan page) to gauge fan interest of ideas, products or other types feedback.
- Announce your events - and drive traffic to the events.
- Integrate your blog posts into your fan pages to extend the reach of your blogs to your fans … and the friends of your fans.
- Explain your business products and services using videos, photos, articles, comments, etc. (Avoid "the sales pitch").
- Facebook captures data about your fans and visitors and makes this information available to you in a tool they call Insights Dashboard. Taking time to review the trends and numbers will give you insight into how to improve your fan pages. Features of the dashboard include:
- Graph that shows different types of fan interaction with the page over time. As well as other graphs such as:
- Interactions per Post
- News Feed click through rate
- Page views
- Media Consumption
- Count of active fans each week - with demographics such as age, gender and location.
- Quality rating of new posts on a scale of 1 to 5.
- Post quality is based on the percentage of fans that engage to the content you post.
- Post quality is calculated on the most recent seven days.
Don't be shy about leveraging your Fan page! Offer your fans reasons to participate and interact with you via your Fan pages. This is a slow-grow process, but is worth the effort. It will produce fabulous feedback as well as word-of-mouth advertising. Building your Facebook Fan Page is a fantastic way to expand your marketing efforts.
There are three ways you can go about getting your Fan page built.
- Use this article as your guide and build it yourself.
- Attend one of Wendy’s Facebook Fan Page workshops. This is a hands on workshop where you leave with a draft of your Fan page built. Wendy’s next Facebook Fan Page workshop is Wednesday, January 13, 2010.
- Hire bWyse to build your Fan Page for you.