Facebook for Your Business: Part Two
The Hao of Facebook:
No that’s not a typo in the subject line; it’s a play on words because there is a certain enigmatic ‘tao’ to handling your business presence on Facebook. In this note, I’m going to talk about the ‘how’ of Facebook when it comes to developing it as a resource for your business or organization. How to plan it, how to set it up and how to manage the ongoing conversation that a successful Facebook strategy should generate. In my next letter I’ll be looking at the ‘what’, what you should and shouldn’t be doing there.
There are two distinct types of business-related places on Facebook, Pages and Groups. Pages are managed by the business and only your appointed representative(s) can add content to the Page. Groups are for people who share an interest and anyone who is a member of the Group can add content. Generally speaking, think of your Page as your company site on Facebook and any related Group pages as your customers’ site(s) on Facebook. In my opinion all businesses need dedicated Pages but only some should set-up Groups- which serve as places to share information with other users and customers.
Pages are under your control while Groups may not be. For now I’m going to focus on what’s involved in setting up an effective Page for your company or organization. One of the best things about Facebook is that Pages are free tools that any company can access. Facebook doesn’t charge for any aspect of your Page. There are many service providers who you can pay to set-up your Page (I am one) and there are many plug-ins you can subscribe to that add various kinds of functionality to your Page. However, especially when you are getting started, you’ll find that the Facebook tools you get for free allow for a high degree of customization including adding and organizing all kinds of content like videos, links, photos, etc. A decent web programmer can customize the look and feel of your Page using a variant of HTML called FBTML. My advice is to wade in slowly and just use the tools they provide to get a basic Page up and running. While many fun widgets and reconfigurations are available they can distract from the most important part of your Page, the content. And remember, Facebook users understand how it works from daily use. When you alter the look and usability you run the risk of losing them.
Setting up a Page is as easy as filling in forms and making preference selections. The set-up wizard takes you through a process of identifying your business type, location, uploading a logo, etc. You have preferences for how visitors can interact with the Page and you can set permissions for the people you allow to add content. By adding tabs to Pages you can essentially replicate much of the information you’d have on a web site with the added bonus of customer interaction.
Web Site or Facebook Page?
So why do you need a web site and a Facebook Page? Two reasons. First, I like to think of your web site as the formal place prospective customers go to get information about your products and company before they contact you, while the Facebook Page is the ‘current events’ source for news, insights, advice, customer service, etc. Second, there is the issue of Facebook vs. Google and the other search engines. Google cannot add most Facebook content to its index because Facebook does not allow its search bots to index the site. It is an inaccessible island as far as search engines go. So you still need a web presence for this reason, among others. Given that Facebook is more like an eighth continent than an island, you really need a presence there too.
With Facebook, Content Is King
Before you start setting up your Facebook Page or hire someone to do it, you need to get some content resources together. Product photos, video, brand elements like logos, employee bios, etc. And it’s a good idea to have an inventory of content items to post after you launch your Page. I’ll be covering content strategies in detail in part three of this series. With these assets on hand and ready, setting up a Page can go relatively smoothly.
The challenge here is that few companies do even these basic preparations before delving into Facebook Page creation. All too often, set-up is relegated to an admin or marketing assistant or even a tech-savvy intern. Pages get made and the maker gets distracted and the Page gets orphaned. Or worse, an inexperienced employee or family member is put in charge of your entire presence and reputation on this giant continent of prospective and current customers. You need to put some resources behind this effort.
Agency or Internal Process?
Should you use someone like me or an agency to do this for you? The answer is maybe, depending on how much bandwidth you have to ensure it gets done right. I’m not going pitch my services here, there is a link at the bottom to that. It may very well be that you have the right resources in-house to handle it. But it is worth looking into using an outside source, especially for the set-up phase of your Facebook strategy.
As important as your Page is, it means nothing and will not be successful if you do not manage it effectively to grow your Friends count by continuously adding value for visitors. Delegating this function, either internally or to a vendor is a challenge. You need a plan for using this incredibly powerful tool, before you get started. That’s the ‘what’ of this series.