Fundamentals of Facebook

Jul 28, 2009 1:35 AM  By

With more than 250 million active users, Facebook is the largest and most popular social network right now, making it a very valuable marketing tool. When used properly, a Facebook page can be a very effective means for merchants to communicate with their audience on a unique and personal level.

A Facebook page is a public profile that enables you to share your business, brand and products with other Facebook users. Creating a page for your business enables your fans and their friends to absorb and interact with your brand, while providing you with a unique opportunity to engage with your audience—a win-win scenario.

But when making your foray into Facebook, you’ll want to follow these best practices to reap the most rewards for your business:

Learn about Facebook. The perception is that Facebook users are college students. But the fact is nearly two-thirds of all active Facebook users are not in college. Facebook’s audience is slightly female with the fastest growing demographic being users 35 years of age and older.

Develop a plan. Before you create a page for your business, you’ll want to be sure that you have a solid plan and strategy in place. What does your business want to convey to its audience through its page? How are you going to go about doing this? Remember, these unique pages are designed to represent your business and are separate from user profiles.

Once you have a plan in place, you can start creating your page by logging into your personal Facebook account and going to http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php. Then fill out the required information and hit the blue “Create Page” button at the bottom of the page.

Customize your page. There are several ways to customize your page on Facebook. Much like user profiles, pages have multiple tabs. Default tabs include the Wall tab, which is for exchanging information with your fans and the Info tab, which is for sharing content.

Aside from these, your business can also create customized tabs. Some examples of customized tabs you may want to include are photos, reviews or events.

Forming discussions and groups provide other ways to customize your Facebook page. For example, a food merchant may want to start a group devoted to donut junkies and begin a discussion about people’s different pastry preferences. The possibilities are countless.

Gather fans. Now that your business has established a Facebook page, it’s time to promote it. Include a link to your company’s Facebook page on your homepage, in e-mail signatures or in your monthly newsletter if your business has one.

And don’t hesitate to ask your business friends and acquaintances to “fan” you on Facebook – the more credible fans your business has, the better.

Say “cheese.” Another good way to gain exposure for your business is to start posting pictures to your page. Then tag all of the individuals within the pictures—being sure to spell names correctly. Doing this will ensure that the people tagged – assuming they’re a Facebook user – will get a notice with the link back to your business page and it will be included in their news feed for all of their friends to see.

Posting pictures is a great way to spread the word. But note that it’s always good to ask your friends if you can tag them before actually doing it.

Don’t share too much. Remember that everything you post on Facebook, including wall updates, photos and videos, becomes public media. It’s therefore important to err on the side of caution when deciding what to share. Anything of a confidential, hurtful or offensive nature should be avoided.

Keep your page fresh and engaging. As with any social media site, it’s important to be proactive. Be sure to update posts at least once a week to include relevant, interesting information that will keep your audience engaged and active.

Lisa Wehr is CEO/founder of Oneupweb, a digital marketing agency.