Creating a Facebook page, also known as a Facebook business page or Facebook fan page, is probably one of the best things you can do right now to boost your brand, small business, non-profit, or political campaign. Some marketing experts believe capturing your Facebook page name (along with your Twitter URL) is proving almost as important as capturing your Internet domain name. And best of all, it’s free to get started.
There are several other good tutorials available, but I decided to write my own focused on the basics. At some point, you may decide to get ambitious enough to hire a team of programmers to create custom Facebook applications and page tabs. But you want to focus on the basics before you get dazzled by the possibilities of “s-commerce”, or immersed in the complexities of programming in Facebook Markup Language (FBML).
The first three things you want to do are the simplest:
- Register your page
- Invite friends and customers to “Like” the page (register to get your updates)
- Secure a unique page name. This appears like a directory under facebook.com, giving you an address pegged to your brand that you can print on business cards and promote in all the same ways you advertise your Internet domain. For example, Carr Communications is at www.facebook.com/carrcomm
Step #2 is a prerequisite for Step #3 because Facebook will not let you establish a name or “username” for your page until you have a minimum number of people “Like” your page. At this writing, you need 25 Facebook fans. And you want to secure the name that is the best match for your brand before someone else gets it.
Some background for the uninitiated: A Facebook page for your organization functions a lot like your Facebook personal profile, but the ground rules are different. You’re limited to 5,000 online “friend” connections to your personal profile. So although you can do a lot of business networking through a personal profile, eventually a successful business will want to graduate to a page. Facebook advertising is also geared toward driving people to your Facebook page, not your personal profile. A Facebook ad can also point to an external website, but linking your ad to a Facebook page is more effective.
Facebook pages are also known as Facebook fan pages. Initially, they featured a button asking you to become a “fan” of that page, and the people who clicked that button were referred to as fans. There were also some variations, where fans of a political campaigns would be shown as supporters. But then they changed the label on the button to say “Like,” and now the label on the list of fans says “X People Like This.”
Now, back to our story. To secure our organization’s identity on Facebook, we need to create a page, recruit people to Like it, and nail down a unique Facebook web address. We also want to get some conversation rolling about the organization, using the Wall for our page and some other online tools. Fancy apps and all the rest can come later.
1. Create a Facebook Page
Since Facebook changes it’s page layout and menus on a regular basis, the quickest way to get to the form for registering your page is to follow this link:
Note that it’s important that you do this yourself, or have it done by someone you trust implicitly. Whoever creates the page is registered as the owner of the page. That is, the ultimate right to modify or delete the page will be associated with that individual’s personal Facebook login. After the account is set up, you will be able to assign administrator rights to other individuals. And you should, so that you will still be able to update the page when the page owner is out of town – or if that person gets run over by a bus. But if you delegate creation of the page to an employee or consultant, and then have a falling out with that individual, you could lose control over your own page and have trouble getting it back.
Facebook asks you to identify your page with one of three broad categories:
- Local business
- Brand, product, or organization
- Artist, band, or public figure
Give some care to the selection, particularly between “local business” and “brand, product, or organization” because you won’t be able to change it later. Categorizing your business as local might be an advantage if you want this page to show up in regional directories, but if you sell nationally you may want to identify yourself as a brand. Before you decide, also study the drop-down list under each category to see which is the best match for you. Some options that are available under local business are not shown under brand, and vice versa.
After choosing your category, give your page a name and check the box that says you are authorized to create a page for this brand or organization.
You will then be taken to the basic page template, a blank Facebook profile for your business.
So you will go from this —
— to this —
Facebook provides it’s own instructions on getting started steps like adding a branding image to the page and creating a first few status messages. Rather than take you step by step through all of that, let me offer a couple of general tips:
- The image you associate with the page is the rough equivalent of the photo of yourself or other image you might use on your personal profile. Besides appearing in the upper left hand corner of your Facebook page, it will appear alongside the status messages associated with the page instead of your personal profile picture. One thing to keep in mind is that the version that appears next to your status messages will be squared off. Horizontal logo images tend to be butchered in the process, so try to find a relatively square icon representing your business to use in this spot. If yours is a consulting business, you can use a portrait photo as long as your face is in the center of the image.
- You do want to create a few starter status messages before you start inviting people to “Like” your page. In other words, give them something to like. Might be a promotion, or a link to some useful information on your blog. If you have some relevant photos or videos you want to add, that would be another way to get things started (more on customizing your page below).
- On the left hand sidebar, your starter page will display a little box that says “Write something about [your page title]” — click there to add a blurb about the business or organization you’re promoting.
2. Get Your Facebook Friends to Like You
When you are ready to unveil your work, the first thing you want to do is Like your own page. Bad enough that the first person who comes to your page should see that you’re the only one who likes it. Maybe you want that first person, or the first few people, to be close friends, family, and colleagues.
Once you’ve done that, you can start inviting people more broadly. Click on “Suggest to Friends” link (top left corner of your Facebook page) to call up the dialog box for inviting people who are in your existing personal network.
Because you haven’t yet secured your Facebook page username / web address, your page will have a long messy address like:
No matter, you can still put this in an email and send it out to your friends and customers to ask them to Like your page. Once 25 or more people agree to Like your page, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
3. Set the Facebook “username” for your page.
In Facebook terminology, you can set a “username” for either a personal profile or a page. So I can promote my personal profile at www.facebook.com/davidfcarr and my business at www.facebook.com/carrcomm
You set this by going here:
Facebook first displays the option for setting the username for your personal profile. If you haven’t done that yet, you might want to do it now.
The option for setting a username for a page is displayed below that:
Clicking the link to set a username for a page will display a list of the pages you administer.
If you try to do this before racking up those 25 Likes, you’ll get a message saying your page “is not eligible for a username at this time.” Otherwise, if your page is eligible, Facebook will display a data entry field where you can type in the desired page username and click “Check Availability.”
If the username you want is not already taken, you will then get a chance to lock it in. You’ll get a warning to think carefully before you do so, because you won’t be able to change it later, you’re not allowed to transfer it to someone else, and you can’t infringe on anyone else’s trademark. Essentially, Facebook is trying to avoid getting into all the complications associated with domain name registration and ownership disputes — although these will doubtless arise anyway.
Enhancing and Customizing Your Facebook Page
Now that you’ve established a home for your online identity on Facebook, you can start enhancing it. You can do a lot with the built-in tools, such as The Wall for your page. There are also many options you can configure within the basic setup, before you get fancy.
The initial setup includes a few default page tabs, including Wall, Info, Photos, Discussion, and Reviews. Other than Wall and Info, you have options about what tabs to show and hide.
I recommend removing any that you’re not going to use actively. Why advertise a Discussion section of your Facebook page if people are going to click there and see no discussions going on? You can click on any of the optional tabs, and then click again on the pencil (edit) icon in the corner to get a little menu that will allow you to delete the tab. You can always add it back later.
There are also several page tabs that Facebook makes available but does not display by default, such as the ones for Events and Videos. You can add Facebook applications (or even create your own) that make other tabs available for use on your pages. Click on the “+” sign at the end of the row of tabs to get a list of tabs you can add.
In this view of my Facebook business page, I’ve added a tab from an application that displays my LinkedIn profile, and I can also choose from other standard or custom application tabs:
Adding and Customizing Facebook Page Applications
Click the “Edit Page” link to change the settings for the built-in applications on your page and add others.
For example, you can choose whether or not people who Like your page can post their own comments, photos, and videos. You can specify whether you want the Wall to be the first thing people see when they come to your page, or whether they should be directed to some other tab.
You may also want to add applications that will be associated with your page, giving you additional tab options. An example would be the LinkedIn application I mentioned previously.
The link to search and browse the available applications is at the very bottom of the configuration page:
One of the most useful of these add-ons is the Static FBML application provided by Facebook. Although FBML refers to the Facebook Markup Language, this is essentially a superset of HTML, meaning that you can copy and paste some some standard HTML into this application to add some custom branding with and img tag pointing to an image file hosted on your own web server, such as a logo, product photo, or promotion. You can link to external content.
Again, the point I most wanted to make here is that the simplest steps are the most important steps. First, establish your brand identity and the online presence of your organization on Facebook. Then, worry about the rest.
I recommend Claire Shih’s book “The Facebook Effect” as a good overall primer on what you can accomplish with Facebook (also covers LinkedIn, Twitter, and some others).
Other / related material on this website:
Facebook Page Help Center (Facebook.com)
How to Create A Facebook Page (Squidoo)