Using Facebook as a Branding Strategy

Making the Best Use of Facebook

Facebook has undergone a few changes of late and is now a much more viral experience for you and your potential or existing customers (collectively called Fans in Facebook).

The new Facebook Business Page layout is divided into two distinct areas.

The left-most column is where your brand logo, business information summary, fans, links and admin links can be located. Make sure you write something interesting about your company in this left column. Be sure to include a link to your website here. Your description can be changed at any time, so this is also a great place to highlight a promotion or some other news about your company.

The right hand column is the certainly the largest and is divided into a series of tabs, with the Wall tab generally being the default view.

The Wall acts as a Twitter-style update feed that puts your business news directly on your Facebook Business Page.

When you are logged into Facebook and click Edit Page a third column appears containing blocks of advertising.

As you make changes, add links and share other information on your Facebook Business Page, it automatically appears in the new Wall feed. Updates and Wall posts made by your fans are also shown in this Wall feed. And any updates that you add also appear on all your Fans Walls, so this can be a truly viral experience.

Sign up for a Facebook Business Account

Go to the Facebook sign up page and create your Business Account - www.facebook.com.

Once you are logged into Facebook, scroll to the bottom of the page and click "Advertising," and then click "Pages." at the top of the page. There is some great information here, so take a moment to read through the information and when you are ready click "Create Page."

As you go through the set-up process, remember that you must categorise your company in the right area to help people find you business.

Setting Up a Business Page

One of the first things you need to do when you set up a new Facebook Page is to give it a title. A tip with this is to think about using rich keywords related to your business that you would like to be found for. Use your own collection of keywords and choose the main one that currently attracts people to your website or blog.

You also want to choose a good, clear photo for your Facebook Page. This can be a personal picture or your company’s logo.

When setting up your page you will have to decide if you want visitors to be able to post messages for everybody to see or if you only want your own messages shown. It may be best to allow everything, as this will help to build your Wall content faster because people love to post messages.

When you are logged in and at the Wall, click Edit Page (under your Logo or picture) and edit the Wall settings. Select the options you require for your business.

If the posts become out of control or unflattering, you can always delete individual posts or change the settings later.

One of the great things about Facebook is the ease of set up. Setting up a business page is really just about carefully finding your way around and following the various prompts.

Other Tabs

At the top of your new Facebook Wall you will see an Info Tab where you can create a full-length version of your company information.

Info Tab

There are also Tabs for Custom Facebook Applications that you choose to add to your Business Page, like RSS feeds Pictures and other applications.

Once you fill in all of the basic information, save everything.

You have now successfully created your Facebook Business Page.

Provide Interesting and Useful Comments

It is important for you to let people know about your Business Page. This is where having an already active Business Page comes in handy because if you already have a lot of people who are interested in your Company, you can suggest your new Facebook Business Page to them.

Just like in other areas of social media (blog's, linkden, twitter, etc), it’s extremely important to provide interesting content to your readers.

You should add fresh content and updates to your Facebook Business Page on a regular basis (daily or weekly). This will keep your fans returning to your page. And Fans that do return, are far more likely to become paying customers at some point.

When you update your Facebook Business Page you'll need to find a good balance between getting your business message across to your Facebook Fans without commercially spam ming them. Keep the updates light and useful rather than advertising-heavy.

Offering regular and useful content will naturally encourage interaction because you are giving people something to respond to. You don't need to come up with all the content yourself, either. You might just link to an interesting article or blog post you have found on the web that’s related to your business or industry.

To help with this content creation you can also use an application like Notes to enter your blog's RSS details so that it pulls your blog posts straight into your Wall. The Notes application can be found in the Application settings section of your facebook account (Edit Page/Applications/ Notes).

Ultimately, the more time you invest in your business’s Facebook page, the better response you will get from it.

Keep in mind that a user can simply click a little X beside your update in their news feed to hide all future news updates about you. So make your updates newsworthy and interesting but do not aggressively promote your business as other Facebook users will probably frown on this.

Marketing and Branding

Marketing and branding your Facebook Business Page can take time. You can't just set up a Business Page and hope that people find you. If there is nothing on your page that interests people, no one will become a fan.

Try posting open-ended questions to entice responses from your fans such as what is your favorite widget? What do you like about this widget or how did you find our widget?

Posting links and photos are also a great way to get people interested, plus they are more visually appealing so people are more likely to pay attention.

Posting links that point to your website has the benefit of pushing people to your site to find out more about you and your Company. Try posting on your Business Wall page every time you update your blog or just use the Notes feature mentioned earlier.

You have to be a little proactive about getting Fans, especially when your Page is new.

A couple of good ideas is to add your Facebook URL to your email signature and use the free badges and widgets that Facebook provides and add them to your website. And don't forget to mention your business page in your blog posts and your twitter tweets. If you have a newsletter mention your Facebook Business Pages to your subscribers.

The more people in your network who find out about your page, the more friends you can make, and the larger your network becomes.

Once you have some supporters of your Page, you want to encourage more dialogue and interaction between yourself and them and even among each other. The biggest impact comes from simply having conversations with people.

Facebook Advertising

Facebook Advertising is a worth exploring. This allows you to place small display type ads in the right sidebar of Facebook pages and profiles. Currently it’s not as effective in pure responses as a well targeted Google AdWords campaign. But it’s not really the same kind of vehicle and in any case you won’t find Google AdWords in Facebook at the moment.

Advertising space is a bit limited in these Facebook ads so use it wisely. Your headline (25 characters) should grab attention immediately with a strong benefit. There's another 135 characters, in the body of the ad, you can use to attract your potential followers. You also have the option to upload an image. Take this option. It may be the most important aspect of your ad as Facebook users are very image driven (it’s the largest photo sharing site in the world) and the visual graphic you choose will make or break an ad.

To find out more about advertising with Facebook see this page - https://www.facebook.com/business/.

Customising Facebook

There are many more things you can add to your Facebook Business Pages such as customisable app's, connecting the main page to your Twitter feed and blog. There are many other app's and widgets to choose from.

The introduction of Facebook Applications is probably one of the most popular moves ever made by Facebook. They released their API so that developers and business owners could collaborate to create fun and cool applications that engage users. The applications created so far widely vary in purpose - some are fun games, some are useful, some are directly related and tied into businesses and some are just plain utilities, but still useful.

Many popular applications have hundreds of thousands of monthly active users and that information speaks for itself.

If you want to read more about creating your own applications for Facebook, you should check out the Facebook Developers page. Once you have an application created, be sure to add it to your profile and to your Facebook group and page.

Boxes and the FBML App

A new default tab called Boxes holds lots of potential for businesses as well. Think of a box page as a free-form scratch pad. You can add up to 10 of what Facebook calls FBML elements (you must add the Facebook Static FBML application to your app's to edit these). FBML is Facebook’s mark-up language but these elements will take any HTML as well. So you have the ability to add newsletter sign-up forms, eBook downloads, and other HTML based elements. (You can add any of the default elements such as video or discussions as well.)

Once you create the elements you can slide them around the page to the get them to display as you like, but you must go to the wall page and hit Edit the page to edit an individual FBML element that's already installed.

You can even create custom landing pages inside of your Facebook Page and promote them as entry points.

One source of frustration at the moment is that many app's don’t work with the latest update. Facebook’s included app's, such as video, events, photos and discussion, all good ones for your Page, seem to work, but many other 3rd party app's do not.

Facebook Widgets

In addition to all the app's you can also make use of Facebook Plugins that can help spread the word about your new Facebook Business Page. You can check these out at https://developers.facebook.com/docs/plugins.

Once you have something like this on your website and blog, visitors can just click on it and they will land on your Facebook Business Page where they can become a fan.

Finally

If you don't have a Facebook Business Page yet, head over to http://www.facebook.com and get started. You won't regret it!

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