In the world of small business and social media, we're seeing a massive migration to company Facebook Pages. It's no wonder, they offer amazing functionality at practically no cost and they give businesses a chance to connect with the more than 300 million people who have already flocked to Facebook. There's amazing viral potential involved with Facebook pages and it provides companies an easy way to reap the benefits of photos, videos, discussion forums, micro-blogging and pretty much every other form of social media in one neat little package.
But there's a problem.
They're NOT easy to set up.
Those of us in the industry might scoff at that statement. After all, you just head over to Facebook, start a page, slap a logo on it and get going. Sure, if all you want is yet another brochure for your site on the web. If you're actually looking to take advantage of the features Facebook offers, it's a whole other story. In fact, I spent a few hours last weekend watching a pretty web savvy friend get to the point of nearly throwing his laptop out the window in frustration as he tried to set up a Facebook page for his web site. (I'm betting more than a few readers can relate.) I went online to do some hunting to find him a step by step guide and was amazed at how many posts skimmed over the actual process with "set up your page, then..." before getting to any meat.
So in the spirit of my Twitter start-up guide, let's do this again on the Facebook front.
Why Facebook? Why Now?
If you thought Facebook was just a way to share photos and life updates with friends and family, you haven't looked very deeply into the largest social networking site this side of 2008. In fact, Facebook now owns nearly 60% of the market share for social networking sites and it continues to grow at an astonishing rate. (In other words, if you've yet to be inundated with friend requests from old classmates...just wait, it's coming.)
I've been warning my small business audiences for years against jumping on the latest social media bandwagon, cautioning them to wait until a service reaches a saturation point that makes their involvement worth the time and effort it takes to be there. Facebook definitely fits the ticket. There are more than 300 million Facebook users as of the writing of this article...that's roughly the population of the United States.
Need a little more perspective?
You know all that buzz you hear about Twitter?
Facebook has roughly 30 times the market share Twitter does. Yep...for every person you hear about that uses Twitter, there are 30 using Facebook. (Let that sink in for a minute.)
It's also got loads more functionality and far more ways to communicate with your audience. Why limit your outreach efforts to 140 character snippets when you can incorporate multi-media, discussion groups, applications, games and almost anything else you can dream up?
That's not even mentioning the fact that Facebook Pages are indexed by Google and can be a great way to capture yet another first page search result for your small business. In a time where online reputation management is key, the value in that extra search listing alone makes it worth the effort for most companies.
Ok, You've Sold Me...But What's a Facebook Page?
Facebook doesn't let businesses set up personal profiles. If you register for Facebook, it has to be YOU registering. A single human being who might like to share their life and connect with others. Businesses? They get relegated down the hall to the world of "pages". Now this might be confusing to you if you're used to referring to your personal profile as your "Facebook page." See Facebook, in their infinite quest to make the heads of usability experts explode, decided to name the presence a company/web site/organization builds on Facebook a "page." Clear as mud, eh?
That's not a bad thing mind you.
Facebook's Page option allows you to create a presence for your business, web site, product or whatever and then promote it to the community. Facebook pages let you gather "fans" rather than "friends" and gives you the ability to send them updates, engage them in discussions and perhaps handiest of all, examine user analytics and data just like you can for your web site.
Since Facebook has an API they've released to developers, the potentials for a fan page are virtually endless. Companies on a tight budget will be limited by what applications have already been developed by the community, but even then, there's functionality aplenty just waiting for you to tap into it. For now, let's focus on getting you set up with a presence.
Yoo Hoo! Facebook Page Creation Link...Where are You?
You'd think if Facebook wanted companies to flock to the network creating Facebook pages, they'd make it easy for them to do so. You'd be wrong. What they actually do is hide the Create a page link in a variety of different places on the chance you might eventually stumble across one. Of course even if you do, that's not to say you'll ever remember where you found it. (Not to mention the fact that someone else will likely find it a totally different way...and the different ways you enter determine the path you take to set up the page...it's all very Alice in Wonderland of them.)
Ironically, it's easiest to find the create a Facebook page link if you aren't even logged in to the site. Hit the home page without being logged in and it sits there plain as day on the front page.
If you're already an active Facebook member and your cookies dump you right into the system, it's a bit more difficult.
Two surefire ways to find the link?
1. Sign in to Facebook, scroll to the very bottom of the page and look for the link that says "Advertising."
Once you reach the advertising page, look along the top of the page and locate the link that says "Pages."
At this point, you'll have the option of learning more about Facebook Pages from Facebook or of jumping right into the process. If you want to jump right into the process, look for the green "Create a Page" button on the top right.
2. Sign in to Facebook and visit an existing Facebook page. Scroll to the bottom and left for the tiny link at the bottom left that says "Create a Page."
Ok, Let's Get Started!
Yes, yes, I know that was a lot of work just to get to where you can even start setting up a page, but so it goes. Your first decision is to figure out how you want to classify yourself. If you are a local business with a physical presence, you'll want to look through the drop down options and find the one that best fits you. If you're a business, organization or web site with a national or international presence, you'll want to look through the "Brand, Product or Organization" options. If you're looking to create a Facebook Page for yourself because you're one of those famous types (artist, public official, etc...) go with the last option.
The example site I'm using here is Life in a Tent, a new camping blog I've set up to test some new social media marketing outlets. That means I selected the second option and chose "website" from the drop down.
Once you've done this, you'll be taken to the bones of your new Facebook page. Yes, it's pretty bleak and boring. It's up to you to add some personality to the mix.
To do this, you need to look at the list of links right under the big image of a grey question mark. There you'll find a link that reads "Edit Page." Click on this link and you'll be taken to your admin page.
The first thing you'll want to do is click on the little blue edit icon (blue box with what looks like a pen in it) that appears over to the right in the box called "Settings." You'll see a pop up window. Select Edit.
This will pop up the window that let's you create your most basic settings.
You'll need to assign your country and any age restrictions. This is also the page where you decide if you want your page to show as live or not. If you're just getting started, leave this set to "Unpublished." Once you've got your page the way you want it, you can quickly go back and turn on access for the world.
Next you'll need to return to the admin page and select the "Wall" option.
This is where you start to have some options and need to start making some decisions. For instance, you can set it so your wall displays only posts you've made yourself or you can open it up to include the posts from your fans. While I understand the temptation to retain control and publish only your own comments, it's important to remember you're setting up a Facebook page for the sake of building community and communicating with your target audience. Unless you've got a good reason not to, it's a good idea to go ahead and set the default view to include posts by you and by fans.
You also get to set the default landing page for people coming onto the page. Most companies leave this set to "wall" but there are some good reasons to consider changing it. If you're building a Facebook page with a heavy focus on conversations and community building, you may want to push people straight to the discussions page. If you're a travel destination or a food site or something else very visual, you may want to push them straight to the photos page.
You also have the ability to decide how much publishing power you want to give your fans. Decide if you want to let them post their own photos, videos and links. And remember, if you turn this feature on, you will need to have someone keeping an eye on things to make sure nothing inappropriate is being posted.
Now that you've got this section set, hit save and head back to the admin page. Your next step is to click on the edit button for Facebook Mobile.
This area of the admin panel lets you create the ability to interact with your Facebook page via mobile phone. Granted, with most smart phones, you can just pull a Facebook app in and interact with the site that way, but depending on the purpose and scale of your Facebook page, it can be a handy addition to your toolbox. This step by step process only takes a minute or so...
Once you set this up, you can publish status updates to your Facebook page from your phone using SMS. This is handy if you aren't near a computer or can't pick up an Internet connection on your phone.
Once you've got the basics set up, you're ready to go back and add some personality to your page. To do this, you'll need to go back to your default Facebook page again.
Scroll your mouse over to the grey question mark image and look for the little blue editing icon to show up again. When it does, click on it and select the appropriate option for uploading a photo or image to use as your avatar.
While you don't have to upload a perfect square to use as your profile picture, it's important to remember Facebook will create a mini avatar for your posts off of what you upload. Use a rectangle and you may end up with an off center or less than ideal mini avatar. To keep it simple, it's best to try and upload a logo that works well when it's shrunk down.
Once you've got your profile picture in place, look for the "Information" box on in the left hand column and click that edit button. This will pop up windows allowing you to mark the year your business/org/site was founded. You'll also have the chance to add in a link to your web site along with a company overview, mission statement and information about any products or services you offer.
Finally, you'll notice yet another box in the left hand column that says "Write something about..." Think of this as a little tag line for your site or a mini-profile for your business. Editing it is easy. Just click on the box, type your text in, then click off the box again. It will save your entry.
That's it! You've got yourself a starter presence on Facebook!
Now you just need to start using it. That said, while I understand the temptation to rush to Twitter or email and send an announcement out to the world about your new Facebook page, I'd caution you to be patient. There's no sense inviting people to an open house when all you've done is unlock the front door and lay down a welcome mat. You still need to learn how to leverage Facebook's tools to create something people will find valuable.
In the next post, we'll take a look at the default Facebook Page applications and how you can leverage them to create a more interesting and interactive experience for your visitors.
More Articles In This Series:
Part 2 - Setting Up Your First Company Facebook Page
Part 3 - Setting Up Your First Company Facebook Page
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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