More than 500 million active users.
Over 200 million users logging on at least once a day.
The fastest-growing demographic of people 35 years and older.
This last statistic is particularly interesting because although Facebook started as a website for students, it has grown well beyond that and is no longer a website just for college students to hang out on. It’s now a widespread application used by millions of people of all ages.
You may be wondering what the advantage is of having a presence on a social media site like Facebook when your business already has a regular website. The answer is reach. You want your message and story to reach as many people as possible. To maximize your reach, you need to have a presence where people are hanging out and increasingly they’re hanging out on Facebook.
Creating a business page in Facebook is easy and free. Once created, the page can be branded with your company’s logo and customized to include information about your business and a link back to your main website. Users on Facebook can then become “fans” of your business page. In addition to providing a page that has basic information about your organization, Facebook allows a multitude of other features that help better engage your community. These include discussion forums, photos, videos, testimonials, and hundreds of other features created by third-party developers. It’s these interactive features that truly make Facebook a vibrant community where like-minded individuals can interact and share.
What makes Facebook’s reach particularly powerful is its viral aspect. When individual users join your community on Facebook, their friends see an update in their Facebook home page. This leads to more users joining your community, causing more people to be exposed to your business, and soon. By leveraging this social aspect of Facebook, businesses have a chance to reach a large group of people.
CREATING A FACEBOOK BUSINESS PAGE
All Facebook users have a personal page where you can post information about yourself, post status updates that others will see, and share information, such as photos and links. In addition to your personal page, you should create a separate page for your business. This is what Facebook calls a fan page, but we’ll call it a business page (as that makes more sense). Over four million users become fans of pages each day.
If you don’t yet have a personal account on Facebook, create it first. You should not create a standard user account for a business. This is in violation of Facebook’s terms of service, and you will be at risk of having your account terminated.
To create a business page, you must first be logged in with your personal account (only logged in users can create fan pages). Once you’re logged in, visit the following URL:
The first step in creating your page is to determine which category it falls into. You can choose from many choices organized by Local, Brand/Product/Organization, and Artist/Band/Public Figure. Pick the one that fits best.
Once you’ve created a business page for your company, you’ll need to spend some time promoting it. Here are a few ways you can do that:
- Post a link to your business page from your personal profile. You can do this by clicking the “share” button when viewing your business page.
- Promote your new Facebook business page within your existing channels (your company website, your blog, your email newsletter, your LinkedIn profile, etc.).
- Buy social ads on Facebook. Facebook shows these ads to targeted users within various locations on the site.
To make it easy for potential customers to visit and remember the location of your Facebook page, create a sub-domain (facebook.yourcompany.com) on your main domain that sends users to your Facebook business page.
It’s free and takes just a few minutes for whoever is managing your domain configuration. You should also customize the URL for your Facebook business page. This way users can access the page with a URL that looks like http://facebook.com/yourcompany instead of the ugly and indecipherable default URL that Facebook provides by default.
LEARNING FROM FACEBOOK ADS
Facebook allows business to advertise their business pages (or any other web page) within Facebook. These ads are shown to specific Facebook users in various parts of the site.
Even if you’re not planning to buy Facebook social ads, it’s worth taking the first step as if you’re launching an ad, Facebook’s ad tool allows you to specify demographics such as age and gender-which is a great way to get a rough sense of how many Facebook users fit your target market.
Getting started on Facebook is easy, but it requires a certain amount of ongoing attention to achieve maximum value, as users expect to see fresh information on the site. You should plan to have someone in your company accountable for updating the site and participating in the conversations regularly. Devoting time to fostering a social networking page may be a bit of a challenge for small businesses with limited resources, but it’s a worthwhile investment. Sites like Facebook are large enough and growing quickly enough that they should not be ignored. Having a presence on a social networking site is swiftly becoming as important as having a website. The social media sites are, in a sense, an extension of a traditional website. Facebook’s functionality, viral nature and large user base makes it an ideal marketing platform for many different types of organizations.
TIPS FROM THE TRENCHES
Here are three important tips:
- Don’t create a fake account. Be genuine.
- Check the insights feature of the Facebook pages regularly to see how well your business page is doing.
- Link to your Facebook page from your business website and from other online materials. Build reach within your community.