Admit it. Facebook is fun. It allows us to interact with friends and family and gives us the opportunity to expand our connections. We may even spend too much time on it. More than once I’ve had to stop myself from continuing to scroll down the page and tell myself to “get back to work.” It’s addictive, and it’s no wonder over 600 million people are using it.

When it comes to business, this is exactly the reason you should be using Facebook—it’s where the people are. Facebook has made itself easy for businesses to use with “pages.” You can now engage and interact with customers like never before. You can promote new products easily, get instant feedback, create buzz for your company, and create a community around your business. But there is a right and wrong way to do it. What you need to remember is that people are on Facebook to socialize, learn, share, and find out what their friends are doing. They are not there to be sold to.

That’s not to say you can’t sell things on Facebook. You just need to take a different approach. I liken it to a public relations function, where you are out there networking, finding out what people need, making your presence known, sharing things of interest, and creating a fun and stress-free environment where people can freely communicate.

Facebook for business excels in brand marketing and lead generation. Once someone becomes a fan you have direct access to them and the opportunity to interact with them on a regular basis. If you do it right, you can get additional exposure to the friends of your fans when your fans interact with you. This is how things go viral.

If you are still uncertain whether Facebook is good for your business, check out these stats:

  • By 2012, half of the world’s Internet users, 1 billion people, will have a Facebook account. TIME (12/7-1/3 edition)
  • More than 1/3 of marketers say Facebook is “critical” or “important” to their business. HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing Report 2011
  • 25% of social media users are more likely to look into a brand advertising on social media. Adology
  • The average Facebook user spends more than 11 hours per month on Facebook. Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 2010 & Facebook Press Room, 2011
  • Facebook has become the preferred way to share content online, second only to e-mail—for now. Chadwick Martin Bailey, September 2010
  • Facebook is overtaking Google and Yahoo in total time spent online. ComScore, August 2011
  • 67% of B2C and 41% of B2B companies that use Facebook for marketing have acquired a customer through this channel. HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing Report 2011

Personal Profile vs. Business Page

Whatever you do, don’t use your personal profile for your business. Profiles are for people. Pages are for businesses, and have greater functionality. Here’s the official Facebook description:

Facebook profiles are meant to represent a single individual. Organizations of any type are not permitted to maintain an account under the name of their organization. We have created Facebook Pages to allow organizations to have a presence on Facebook. These Pages are distinct presences, separate from user profiles, and optimized for an organization’s needs to communicate, distribute information/content, engage their fans, and capture new audiences virally through their fan’s recommendations to their friends. Facebook Pages are designed to be a media rich, valuable presence for any artist, business or brand.

If you create a profile for your business, your account may be disabled for violating our Terms of Use. If you have questions about how to best leverage your Facebook Page, please check out our Insider’s Guide or FAQ.

So how do you create a page?

That’s easy. I’ve even made a video to show you how. Check it out:

To create your Facebook Page, visit www.facebook.com/pages/create.php (Note: you must already have a personal account and be logged in to create a page). You will be walked through a simple wizard to create your page.

Page Orientation and Setup

  1. Page notification icons. New fan alert and notifications, including wall posts, comments, etc.
  2. Your business profile pic. It can be as large as 180×540 pixels. Don’t just use your logo. Maximize this graphic by adding additional info about your company or even your web site URL. This is the main image for your page, so you want it to really stand out and attract attention.
  3. Number of fans. After you have at least twenty-five fans, you can get your own custom “vanity URL” (facebook.com/yourpagename)
  4. These are your featured “likes.” If you are signed in on your fan page and “like” another page, their icons will appear here. It’s a good way to connect with related pages, and it allows you to comment, which gives you additional exposure for your page.
  5. Photos from your albums. These are randomly selected, however you can hide any photos you don’t want to appear by clicking the “x” in the upper right-hand corner. Here are some cool uses of the top images: http://socialfresh.com/35-creative-facebook-page-photo-strips/
  6. Your content area. Under “edit page > manage permissions” you can choose whether your wall shows posts by your page and your fans or just posts by your page.
  7. Use this to switch identities between you and your page.
  8. To complete your page profile and change your settings, use “edit page.”
  9. These are Facebook shortcut links. Insights are especially helpful to learn more about your page’s demographics and to see what content your users are most interested in.
  10. Facebook ads are quite powerful and relatively inexpensive (for now). Here, Facebook suggests an ad using one of your photos.

Custom Facebook Graphics

The whole purpose of fan pages is to convert visitors into fans, whom you can eventually convert to customers. To increase your visitor-to-fan conversions you will need a custom Facebook graphic for your page. Visitors are 50% more likely to become a fan if you have a call-to-action telling them to “like” your page, and the only way to do that right now is with a customized tab (a page within your page).

If you don’t have a custom landing tab, visitors are directed to the wall or your “info” section. If that doesn’t spark any interest, your visitor will most likely leave. The custom graphic will help minimize lost opportunities and will set your page apart from your competitors’ pages. Just make sure you use a competent graphic designer who knows how to create and install these customized graphics. Your custom page should:

  1. Grab the visitor’s attention (i.e., it should look cool)
  2. Create a desire to learn more (interest them with hidden or exclusive content)
  3. Command them to take an action (“like” the page)

Below are some examples:

 

 

Intro videos are also very effective:

Status Updates

Ok, so you have your Facebook page up and running. Now what do you do?

Engage your fans and increase awareness of your brand through regular communication.

The way Facebook works is, the more conversations are generated, the more opportunity there is to drive additional traffic to your page. So the goal is to get these conversations rolling. You can do that by posing questions, announcing new products, and by sharing news, quotes, information, etc. Almost anything goes, but it needs to be of interest to your particular set of fans. In other words, don’t discuss something like skateboards on a page about beauty. Know your audience and cater to their interests.

It’s best to mix up your media. Use video, pictures, links, or text to update your fans on a regular basis. Get creative with contests, special offers, or even group messages. Whenever fans comment on your posts, make sure to acknowledge them. This alone encourages fans to comment more and increases interaction. And the more your fans comment, the more non-fans will be drawn to your page, because your fans’ comments are included in their friends’ news streams. For more ideas on how to engage your fans, check out 12 Tactics for Facebook Page Creation.

Facebook Advertising

“75 % of Brand ‘Likes’ on Facebook come from advertisements.” (Mashable)

 

I love Facebook Ads. Never before has there been an easier way to reach large numbers of highly targeted people. For my business it really works well. Most of my business comes from word-of-mouth, and with Facebook’s “friends of fans” targeting feature I get a lot of new leads from friends of my fans. They figure if their friend knows me, they should too. And they are right!

Facebook ads work beautifully to pull in a constant stream of new fans. One of my favorite clients found me through my Facebook ad. I spend very little on it, but I get so much in return. I will never stop praising the effectiveness of these tiny little power-packed ads.

Of course there is a wrong and a right way to do everything, and I’ve learned that the best practice is to keep your Facebook visitors on Facebook, meaning your ad should link to your Facebook page and not directly to your web site. Ads that take users outside Facebook are like TV commercials: they interrupt the user’s Facebook experience. It’s almost like getting kicked out of a party. People are on Facebook to be on Facebook, so keep that in mind. If you have an occasional super promotion or a contest going on, however, there is nothing wrong with taking them to a landing page on your site.

The point of using Facebook for your business is to get fans and generate leads. Once they are fans, you can work on converting them to customers through regular communication. This has proven to be an effective strategy for most businesses if done on an ongoing basis.

When it comes to creating the ad, it is best to test several versions. You can place as many ads as you want in the same campaign without spending additional funds. This way you can find out which wording and/or image gets the best response and continue to refine it. To learn more about Facebook advertising, check out Facebook Marketing Solutions. There are also some excellent case studies to review.

There are still more ways to increase your business with Facebook. Just a few are:

Customizing your page, updating with relevant content, and advertising on Facebook are the basic steps you need to take, and they will get you well on your way to increasing your business.

I’d love to hear how you are using Facebook to increase your business. Please leave a comment below.