Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Demystifying Social Ads on Facebook

If you've run ads on Facebook, you may have noticed that they show you a column for "Social %" in the dashboard for your ad performance. Here's what that means.

Social ads are only relevant to content on Facebook, not ads for your separate website. However, any good Facebook marketing strategy will incorporate at least a Fan page to complement your off-Facebook website or brick-and mortar store.

When setting up a CPC or CPM ad on Facebook, you have the option to target "Friends of people who are connected to" some Facebook page, group, or application that you operate. If you use this targeting option, you should see a 100% social rate for that ad on the dashboard because the ad will ONLY be shown to friends of your existing fans. Even if you do not select this option however, Facebook will still use its own algorithms to occasionally target your ads to people who fit your targeting criteria AND ALSO whose friends are already connected to your content.

So say you want to promote your local clothing store. You should have a fan page set up on Facebook to build a following of loyal customers. You will see the best results by promoting the fan page through CPC ads on Facebook and then using status updates, link posts, etc. to the fan page in order to bring users back to your website or into your brick-and-mortar store. You may want to target your Facebook ads to users within a certain radius of your city, as well as by gender, age, etc. depending on the type of products you sell.

Facebook will AUTOMATICALLY serve a social version of your ad to users it thinks are most likely to respond to it once in a while even if you don't explicitly select this option. Clicks on social ads do cost more - as much as 3x more - so this will raise your average CPC overall, but they also command a much higher click-thru rate, so you usually come out ahead. That means if I am a fan of your clothing store, any of my friends who also fit your criteria will see the social ad instead of the regular one.

What makes an ad social?

The link, image, and text are the same as the ad you created. However, Facebook adds a message such as "Vince Arovola likes this" below it, hinting that my friend viewing the ad should also like it since I do. What's more, they also put the "Like" link right there next to it so my friends can become fans of the page without even actually clicking through to the ad. Facebook still counts this as a click, and also an "action" on your dashboard.

So... you might see on your dashboard that your ad got 100,000 impressions, 100 clicks, 50 actions, and 10% social. That means 100 people (0.10%) either clicked the ad itself OR directly on the Like link, 50 people (or half of the clicks) became new fans and now subscribe to your page's status updates, and 10% of the 100,000 total impressions were served as social ads to friends of your existing fans.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Make Facebook Ads Work for You

For many local businesses, advertising online is synonymous with Google AdSense. Facebook ads however can be just as effective and a lot less expensive, although your approach needs to be very different.

On Google, you're marketing to someone who just typed in search terms related to your business. This is called "advertising by intent" - you know for sure that the user intends to at least visit your website, and very often they intend to make a purchase. People who search for TVs intend to buy TVs. People who search for restaurants in your city intend to go out to eat.

Advertising on Facebook is targeted on people's interests instead of their intent, so your approach to advertising MUST be different. For some advertisers, Facebook may not be an appropriate advertising channel at all. Yet for many, it can be extremely effective and less expensive than Google AdSense. The key is to create ads that people respond to on Facebook.

For reference, I spend anywhere from $0.10 to $1.25 per click for advertising on Facebook. I spend between $3.00 and $9.00 per click to advertise on Google. With acquisition costs like that, it's important that Google leads convert on the first click. Facebook leads become fans that you can continue marketing to for free (after they Like your page) and convert later with appropriate follow-up.

Rule #1 - Target Your Ads

Facebook gives you a lot of controls to target your ads. That means you can choose who sees your ad based on age, gender, and location as well as their Likes and even keywords cited in their recent status updates and comments. Not only does this drive up your click-thru rate, it drives down your cost.

You can easily create several ads with slightly or entirely different copy targeted to different groups. Is it possible to market your business to conservative religious groups and the gay community at the same time, for example? Absolutely! But you better write different copy for each ad and make sure that you target the right one to the right group or it is sure to backfire.

Remember that you are targeting on interest and self-identity, NOT on intent. The most effective ads are those that people relate to immediately by thinking "Hey, that's me!" One of my most effective Facebook ads to date was targeted to self-identified entrepreneurs, and simply asked "Have you hugged an entrepreneur today?"

Rule #2 - Understand your real value to your customers

This is not unique to Facebook ads. It's the very first tenet of any effective marketing campaign but especially important in a social environment. Often times what you consider major selling points are irrelevant to your customers. They don't care how many megapixels your cameras have or what ingredients you use in your sushi rolls. They care that they will feel proud of the high-quality pics they took with your camera, and about the social experience of dining out with friends at your restaurant. Your ad should ALWAYS focus on the benefit to your customer no matter how removed or irrelevant it seems from your product's features.

When in doubt, ask your customers why they really patronize your business. You may be surprised by the answers you get.

Rule #3 - Ask for the Sale

It's true that "click here" is trite on the web in general. However, this call to action is very effective in Facebook ads that promote a fan page, increasing click-thru rates by as much as 100% in my experience. Yet surprisingly few ads on Facebook explicitly ask people to click the Like button. A few examples I've used that got above average results all begin with the call to action:

Example 1, targeted to people by the city they live in:
Daily Deals
[Image representing your brand]
Click Like to get in on daily deals in [Your City]

Example 2, targeted to people who like American Idol:
Super Talent or Trainwreck?
[Image of attractive young person with microphone]
Click like to see people singing their hearts out for love and cast your vote.

Example 3:
Stop Attack Ads
[Black and white stock photo of non-specific politician with red ATTACK stamped across it]
Click Like if you're fed up with negative campaigning and want to see real ideas instead.

This is by no means a complete guide to advertising on Facebook, but covers the most important techniques that have worked for me.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

10 Social Marketing Tips for Local Businesses

1 - Get on Google

In the 2000s, Google took over the role of the Yellow Pages in the minds of many consumers and businesses. They remain a significant source of traffic and leads for more than one million local businesses today.

Use Google Places to create a free local listing for your business that appears on Google Map when people search in your city or area. http://bit.ly/bTOAsB

2 - Get on Yelp, Facebook and Twitter

Yes, there has been some controversy over the validity of Yelp listings in the past, but the fact is it does not seem to be going away. If you operate a local business, it behooves you to be on Yelp and to ask your satisfied customers to log on and leave a 5-star rating. Don't try to buy ratings by offering rewards, but do be sure to ask every satisfied customer to review you on Yelp.

Facebook and Twitter are also great ways to turn regular customers into loyal fans. It's free to create a presence for your business and cultivate a list of followers on each site. Studies have shown customers who follow you on Facebook and Twitter are more likely to return to your business more often and to refer more friends than non-followers.

3 - Don't Use a Personal Facebook Account. Use an Official Page Instead.

Facebook treats personal accounts and business pages differently.
People can't "like" friends, and your customers will be reluctant to connect with you if they have to request permission and wait for you to accept the friend request. You're much better off with an Official Page for your business that anyone can simply click "Like" to follow, as well as for a whole host of other reasons.

Also be sure to get a Short URL for Your Facebook Page. When you have at least 25 people Like (or follow) your Facebook page, you can choose a short url. Go here http://www.facebook.com/username and click on "Select Username for My Pages" to get yours.

4 - Start a Blog

Blogs are a proven way to build your business and reputation at the same time. If you operate a local business, there is a good chance you are an expert in the subject of what you sell. Don't blog about your business itself but about topics of interest to your customers. If you operate a sporting goods store, blog about sports. If you operate a video game store, blog about video games.

5 - Make a YouTube Video

YouTube is probably the most valuable and least used social media tool available to businesses today. You do not need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to produce tv-quality video for the Internet. Grab your handycam, interview the owners or some employees, interview some customers (i.e. testimonials), show some sexy products, and you have a YouTube video. If you're more creative than that (and/or if you're a ham), there's tons more you can do with YouTube.

6 - Ask Your Customers to Like, Follow, and Review You

This may seem like a no-brainer, but 95% of local businesses - even those with presences on Yelp and Facebook - overlook this simple but critical step.

As a local business, chances are you satisfy tons of customers every day. Something as simple as a business card with your Yelp or Facebook URL on it near the cash register will encourage satisfied customers to log on when they get home and join your following. Window decals and counter-top displays with take-away cards are also an excellent way to subtly encourage real-life customers to become social media superfans.

7 - Keep in Touch with Your Followers

Post updates, or short messages, to your Facebook and Twitter followers at least once every few weeks. Do not post more than twice per day unless your business is content production (e.g. a newspaper). For most local businesses, posting more than twice a day would annoy your followers, and posting less than once every few weeks will let them forget about you.

Facebook and Twitter give you a way to broadcast messages to your few thousand best customers in near real-time. "Near" real time because most people who use the sites check them often and will see any messages you post within a few hours. A sandwich franchise in downtown San Francisco doubled its lunchtime sales and its online following when it started tweeting out sandwich specials right before lunchtime. Most of its followers are business people work within a block of the store and check twitter daily before lunch. For them, it is a highly effective strategy to send out pictures of the daily special right at that time.

8 - Shut Up and Listen

Somehow this piece of advice shows up somewhere on every important Top 10 Tips list. This one is no different.

Do something interactive. Instead of just posting your own updates, post questions that invite feedback. Post quizzes. Invite customers to share their own photos, videos, or stories about your product or service - or even just the topic of your business. You will engage your customers and gain insight into their interests and needs at the same time.

9 - Don't Be Afraid of Negative Feedback or Reviews.

People expect to find one or two bad reviews on Yelp for most local businesses. If most of your reviews are positive with just a few spite-toned reviews mixed in, it usually reflects worse on the reviewer than on your business.

Consider the context of your whole page. A few isolated harsh reviews lack credibility and can wind up gaining sympathy for your business rather than turning off new prospects. If you have a pattern of negative reviews however, this should alert you to bigger problems your business needs to address to satisfy its customers. The reviews will improve when you solve the core business problems.

You should always do your best to find dis-satisfied customers and remedy the situation. In my experience, about 1/2 of a local business' superfans are really former pissed -off customers who you made ammends to. A bad experience turned right can help build a rapport that turns an average customer into an evangelist.

10 - Get Creative

At its core, social media marketing uses the same age-old marketing principles as any other medium. Understand who your customers are and what it is about your products or services that they really love to love. "What is the benefit?" How do you make people's lives better? Then use social media to remind people about that in creative ways.

Remember "Facts Tell, Stories Sell" in any medium. Don't focus on facts, features, or specifications. Tell a story about a customer who exemplifies the way your business solves people's problems. Even better, invite them to tell you (and their friends at the same time) a story about your business, product, or service.

Did you find this useful? Did it not answer your questions? Please post your comments below and share this post with friends.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Social Media Mythbuster - 5 Lies You Shouldn't Buy Into

With all the hype about social media these days, sometimes you need to step back and separate fact from fiction. Here is a reality check on 5 common myths of social media marketing.

#5. Social marketing means buying ads on social networks. False.

Some social networks sell identity-targeted ads, and sometimes that is a cost-effective way to reach a specific audience. If you're creative and understand the medium though, there is tons of stuff you can do without buying ads. For that matter, if you don't understand the medium you certainly should not spend money on ads in it.

The core value of social media for business is the ability to grow and keep in touch with a large following of customers and potential customers. We used to call that an "opt-in mailing list," and it used to be much more expensive and less effective.

#4. Social marketing means selling to my friends. False.

This is a common misconception among small business operators. The fact is if you are in business, your business is already a part of your community. People sometimes talk about you in real life, and sometimes they will talk about you on social networks too. Social marketing means creating a presence for your business or brand on the social networks that your customers use, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Yelp. You are in control of that presence, giving you some control over how people talk about and perceive your business there.

#3. Word of mouth advertising happens automatically on social networks. False.

Even if you have a presence on social media, that does not guarantee people will talk about you. You should always remind customers at the point of sale to find and connect with your business on the social media they use regularly. This is when they are thinking about how satisfied they are with you, so it's the perfect time to invite them to connect on Facebook or Twitter, or to follow your blog (assuming your blog is on a topic of interest to your business' customers).

Even when you have followers, you need to encourage them to refer their friends. Discuss topics that remind them why they love you - this does not always necessarily mean talking about your business - and you will become part of their conversations with friends. Ask directly for referrals when appropriate, and offer incentives such as discounts or rewards for referrals when appropriate.

#2. You don't need to pay for advertising if you use social media. False.

Fact: For new businesses, social media is a great way to build loyalty among your fledgling customer base and to facilitate referrals.

Fallacy: Social media will generate customers out of thin air and people won't be able to stop talking about you.

It's a fine line between the two. Used properly, social marketing does two things to help your business: First, it keeps you in front of your customers minds in a positive way - without the cost of expensive brand advertising, resulting in more repeat business from the same customers. Second, it encourages people who connect with you ("Like" on Facebook, "follow" on Twitter or blog, etc) to recommend your business to their friends.

Like any investment though, you need to diversify your marketing. Social media should be PART OF but not your ENTIRE marketing strategy. Especially for brand new businesses, it's important to understand that social media is based on word of mouth advertising. If you don't have satisfied customers to spread the word about your business yet, then word of mouth advertising is irrelevant. If you do have satisfied customers, you should ask every one of them to connect with your business on whatever social media they use, and to recommend your business to their friends.

#1. My business will benefit if it goes viral. False.

The #1 myth of social media is that anything more than 15 minutes of fame can be gained from going viral on the Internet. To be fair, a few individuals and businesses (including myself) have made some money with viral marketing. However, most of the content that goes viral on the Internet is as transient as the mumblings in a crowded cafeteria. Going viral is a personal triumph for an artist, but usually does not open doors to riches. Further, when going viral is lucrative, there is always more than "just" viral marketing behind it.

Video clips or other imagery with certain characteristics that appeal to human emotions in a specific way compel people to forward them on to friends and family. Yet, most of the time they are forgotten as quickly as they are forwarded.

Only in rare cases, and those executed with painstaking attention to detail, does going viral actually lead to monetary benefit. In rarer cases still is an actual product or service itself so disruptively different that it merits rampant forwarding. It happens (e.g. Magic Jack) but very rarely, and there's always something more behind it than catchy content.

The best practice for using social media to grow your business is to convert your satisfied customers from real life into social media connections, and then use social media to maintain and strengthen your relationship with them over time. Use proven methods for growing your fan base or following, and consider social media a tool for long-term growth, not a get-rich-quick scheme.

Monday, May 17, 2010

New Privacy Breach on Facebook

I'm not sure if this is really any worse than the things Facebook does intentionally (i.e. change default settings) to erode privacy, except that this one seems like an unintentional bug exposing status updates to people you're not connected to.

I recently noticed some updates in my newsfeed from a high-school friend that I didn't remember connecting with. Let's call here Selena. When I click on Selena's profile, it turns out that I am not friends with her on Facebook. However, I had sent her a friend request several months ago that she never accepted. She has clearly set her own privacy settings to be stricter than Facebook defaults because I can see almost nothing except her name and picture on her profile page. Well, that and the fact that my friend request is "Awaiting Confirmation."

I don't take it personally that she never accepted my request - maybe she doesn't remember me 20 years later. However, I can't help feeling awkward at best and voyeuristic at worst now every time I see "Selena is now friends with So-and-So," and "Selena has joined the group Such-and-such" scrolling across my Page.

I recently also started pruning my friends list of people I had added just for games like Mafia Wars. Again, nothing personal - I don't play much Mafia Wars anymore. Yet, I was unable to remove at least one friend from Mafia Friends list because she never accepted my request to begin with. Let's call her Default Donna. I see Default Donna's Mafia Wars updates all the time, and assumed we were legitimately connected until I realized I couldn't remove her because we're not really friends. Here I am the creepy voyeur again.

Facebook: Please let me remove people from my newsfeed whose updates I know I should not be seeing. I'm not like that.

This appears to be a bug related to the Lists feature on Facebook. When I sent the request to Selena, I added her to a "High School Friends" list. When I sent the add-me request to Default Donna, I added her to a "Mafia Wars Friends" list. Their updates DO NOT show up in my regular newsfeed, or "Most Recent." However, I usually view my newsfeed using list filters. When I click on the High School Friends filter, there is Selena all over the place. When I click on my Mafia Wars Friends filter, there is Default Donna all over the place.

The worst part is I am not entirely sure whether this is a bug or feature. Facebook is very opaque about how it decides which posts to include in your newsfeed, and it seems deliberately confusing about what privacy settings control. Whether it's by design or not though, it should be considered a significant privacy violation.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Don't Make the #1 Mistake Small Businesses Make on Facebook

You Can Balance Your Business and Personal Life... on Facebook

OK, no entrepreneur I have ever met can really say he or she manages to balance their business and personal time to their satisfaction in real life. There's just not enough time in the day, right? Well it is possible on Facebook. Furthermore, it is vital for both you and your business that you do at least keep some separation between the two on Facebook.

"Treat your prospects like friends, but never treat your friends like prospects."

I hear a lot of entrepreneurs say they don't think it's effective, or even appropriate, to use Facebook for business because it alienates friends. I agree with the point that you will alienate your friends if you try to sell them stuff all the time, especially if your friends are not part of the target market for your product line. But I would argue that's just going about it wrong.

The point of marketing on Facebook is that you can and should establish a separate presence for your business no matter how big or small you are. The fact is you don't really NEED your personal friends for your business presence on Faceook at all. If you wanted to keep it secret, you could set up a Page for your business and drive traffic to it other ways.

Don't tell your friends if you're shy about it. If you don't become a Liker of your own Page, there's really no way people will even be able to tell that you're associated with it. It sure doesn't hurt to have a little support from your friends starting out though, and most of them will support you at least by Liking your Page and referring their friends to it if you ask them to.

"But I am a one-person business. I sell makeup, or nutrition products, or professional services, or real estate..."

You should still create a Page for your business, even if it is just your name followed by a title or certification like MD or Photographer. You probably won't really keep it secret from your friends, but your Page is your space to be as markety as you want to be.

Marketing is a lot like a sexual advance in that it can be really exciting from the right source in the right context and really offensive from the wrong source in the wrong context. Think of your business Page as your sexy space. People will expect marketing there. They want pictures of your products with mouth-watering descriptions. They want to hear about your sales and your specials and your jewelry parties and business opportunities and whatever else you have to offer. They want and expect that from your business Page, so don't let them down.

Your friends may or not be in your target market, and that's fine. If they Like your Page to support you and then get tired of seeing posts from it in their newsfeed they will click "Remove" in the newfeed to stop receiving them. They will still Like you tho - meaning they show in your "XYZ people like this" box and your Page shows up under their Likes and Interests on their personal profile. They have just decided to opt out of your sexy space. It's nothing personal.

Don't Make the #1 Mistake Small Businesses Make on Facebook

Is this you: "I didn't want to use my regular Facebook account, so I just logged out and created a new one in the business name. I already had a separate email for my business so now I just login with that when I want to manage the business Facebook account."

This is the #1 mistake small businesses make, and nothing good can come from it. You might spend several months using that account to promote your business before logging in one day to find your account deleted by an overly aggressive fraud-detection algorithm.

If (when) this happens, you will lose all of the friends you have accumulated, all of the photos you have posted, all of the status updates, and everything else in an instant. Facebook will not send you a warning, and there is not even a way to contact them to ask what happened. Suddenly, you just cannot log in anymore, and the forgot-password link tells you no account exists with that email address. *Poof* it's all gone just like that. As if your business had never existed on Facebook at all.

This is Facebook's fault for failing to provide better guidance for businesses on how to use the site. With nearly 2 million business users, they should offer a comprehensive business resource center on the site as well as customer service at least by email. Yet unless you spend at least $10,000 per month on advertising with them, you will not even find so much as a "Contact Us" link anywhere on the website.

The preferred way to manage your accounts with Facebook (as clearly described half way down an FAQ page 6 clicks from nowhere on the site) is to create a personal account for yourself in your real name, and then create a Page for your business while logged in as you, "the person."

The only thing you need to remember about Pages is that they cannot post comments anywhere except your own Page. So, if you post a comment to someone's wall somewhere - that will always show up as being posted by you, the person. However, anything you post to your own Page will show up as being posted by the Page itself - not you, the person.

If you have business partners that also need administrator access to the Page, they should first "Like" the Page after you create it. Then you log in and go to the Page itself. Find the "XYZ people like this" box on the left side, and click "See All." In the dialog that opens, you can make any Likers into administrators.

Apart from the risk of having your entire account deleted, there are also a couple other important reasons to consider why you would rather have a Page for your business instead of a personal profile.

First is that people have friends while Pages have Likers. It's a lot easier - not to mention more inviting - for people to click Like and immediately subscibe to your Pages newsfeed than it is for them to request permission from you and wait for you to get around to granting them this privilege.

As a customer, I am also often hesitant to send friend requests to businesses I like if they use a personal account because I don't want to cross an inappropriate boundary in case they really do use the account for personal life. For instance, I like my doctor, but I would not expect to be his friend on Facebook any more than I would expect his personal home phone number. There's a personal/professional boundary there that extends to Facebook too. For professional service providers - the doctors, lawyers, architects, hair stylists, etc. of the world - this is always a dilemma, on Facebook and off. How friendly should I really be with my clients? The Page on Facebook is a really great way to draw an appropriate boundary between your personal and professional presence.

The other reason you prefer a Page for your business is that people (on Facebook) can only have a maximum of 5,000 friends while Pages can have unlimited Likers. 5,000 might sound like a lot to you when you're starting out, but you could easily exceed that in no time. If you're lucky enough to do something that goes viral on Facebook or if you get some good press coverage for something that mentions your Facebook Page, you could add tens of thousands of Likers in a day.

For perspective, consider that Lady Gaga has over 7,000,000 Likers on Facebook. She would literally need to manage more than 1,400 separate personal accounts on Facebook alone to stay in touch with all those fans. Yet with her Page, she can instantly send updates to all 7,000,000 fans at once. In fact, when Lady Gaga posts updates to her Page, she usually has more than 5,000 people click Like and/or leave comments within minutes of her post. That can be you too, but only if you use a Page. ;-)

But I Already Created a Personal/Friend Account for My Business. What Do I Do Now?

If you have already established your business on Facebook using a personal account (meaning the kind that has Friends instead of Likers) you have a little work cut out for you. There is no way to "convert" an account from one type to the other or to automatically transfer friends. You have to start over from scratch and hope your friends will become Likers of your new Page.

The first thing you need to do is log in to your real personal account. The one that uses your real legal name, not the business name. If you ONLY have an account in your business name, you should create a new one in your real name that appears on your driver license. That's the only way to guarantee Facebook won't delete the account later.

Once you are logged in as you, the person, you want to create a new Page for your business. Follow the steps in my blog on how to create a Page here.

When your business Page is set up and ready to market, you can log back into the old personal account you have in your business name. There is no way to automatically transfer anything from photos to friends, so you're starting over from scratch. Sorry. I promise it's better to do this now - no matter how many friends you have amassed for your biz account - than to log in one day and find them all gone with no warning.

While logged in as your old business account, send a message to all of your friends with a link to your new business Page. You don't have to go into detail about how/why you're moving them. Just say "I/We have created a new Page for [Business Name] on Facebook and will be phasing out this account in the coming weeks. Please click the link below and Like my/our new fan page in order to stay in touch with me/us." You may need to send this message once a week for several weeks to get everyone to transfer.

If you find people don't jump over to the Page as fast as you hope, you may also consider offering a Facebook-only promotion to encourage Likers. That is something to the effect of "Like our new fan Page on Facebook to be entered in a drawing for a free widget. Deadline: Friday mm/dd/yyyy hh:mm" These work well whether you're trying to incentivise your existing followers to migrate from your personal account to your business Page, or just trying to get new customers to follow your Page.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How to Create an Official Facebook Page for Your Business

For all the hype about marketing your business on social networks these days, there sure seems to be a lot of confusion about how to go about it. In this post, I will guide you through setting up an official Facebook Page for your business (or brand, or public persona, etc.). Your Facebook Page is the centerpiece of your presence on Facebook, and is no less important in 2010 than your own company website.

Your Official Facebook Page is sort of like a personal profile for your business or brand on Facebook, except that Pages are treated a little differently from profiles. Most notably, people have "friends" on Facebook while Pages have "Likers." (That sounded so much less awkward when Facebook called them Fans).

Note: You should not use a "regular account" for your business. A lot of people simply create new accounts for their business using the business name in the first and last name fields because they simply don't know the difference. However Facebook treats all personal accounts with non-human-sounding names as suspect of fraud. They routinely flag and delete these accounts and often times honest business people who just didn't know any better lose their only access to the large following of "friends" they had amassed in an instant. There is no notice and no recourse. In case you've never looked, there is no 'Contact Us' link anywhere on Facebook. If this is you, please go create a Page immediately and then send a message to everyone who "friended" your personal account with a link to your new Page asking them to "Like" it.

Step 1 - Create the Page

1. Go to http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php


This is the magic URL you need to create an Official Page for your business. As you can see, all you really need to provide is a name for your Page (should be the same as your business name or as close as possible) and the type of business, brand, etc. your Page represents.

Enter the information, agree to the terms, and click "Create Official Page." Congratulations!!! You now have an Official Facebook Page for your business.

Step 2 - Upload Picture

By now, you should be staring at a screen that looks something like this:

It's time to upload a photo for your Facebook Page. If you're the kind of biz owner who has one picture of your storefront or logo on your computer that you use for everything online, that will work fine. Just roll your mouse over the big "?" image where your photo goes, and you will see a link to "Change Picture." Click that, and it will allow you to upload your image file.

Tip for the Technically Inclined:

If you're slightly more tech savvy and want to get creative, there are a few cool things you can do with your Page's profile picture. Many people don't realize that Facebook resizes your image based on WIDTH ONLY. That means you can make your Page look a little different from all the other Pages out there simply by using a very tall image for your profile picture. Try uploading a 120 x 600 image, and Facebook will show it at it's real size.

The other interesting thing Facebook does with photos (for Pages and personal profiles) is to crop out a perfect square version for the thumbnail image that appears next to all your posts. What you can do is design your profile picture so it is very tall BUT make sure there is a square section within it to use for your thumbnail.

Oreo cookies makes great use of this technique: http://www.facebook.com/oreo?v=wall

If you click the Oreo link above, you'll notice they use the full height of the profile picture for branding, but designed it so that the top portion can be cropped out perfectly for the thumbnail image.

If you want to specify which section of your profile pic to use as the thumbnail, you can drag a little square into place to specify it. To do that, roll over the main profile picture on your Page until you see "Change Picture" appear. Click "Change Picture" and another menu will appear. Click "Edit Thumbnail" in that menu to change which part of your profile pic your thumbnail comes from.

Step 3 - Enter Business Info

To enter your business information, click on the "Info" tab at the top of your Page. The tab should be empty at first as in the screenshot above. You should see a link to "Edit Information" in the top-right corner. Click this link to see options for editing your business information.

Which fields you see here depends on what type of business you entered for yourself when you first created the Page. For instance, if you are a restaurant, they will ask you about your hours and parking. If you're a politician, they will ask you other questions.

Put some thought into your answers to any open questions like "Description" or "About Us" on your info tab. This is the kind of thing you will write and then forget it's there once you get into the groove of posting status updates later. But new customers, Likers, and referrals will still read your Info tab every day even after it moves to the back of your mind so be sure it represents your brand well.

Step 4 - Remove Other Tabs (for now)

Only the Wall and Info tabs are required on your Page. You cannot delete these two tabs, and you cannot move them around. However, all other tabs can be deleted, and also dragged around to change the order.

Facebook sometimes adds other tabs by default (such as Photos, Discussions, etc) when you first create your Page. However, these tabs can clutter your Page if you don't actually post content to them regularly, so I recommend you delete all tabs (except for Wall and Info) first, and then come back and add the ones you really want later when you're ready to put content on them.

Or at least look at what Facebook put up there, and err on the side of deleting if you're not sure how you'll use it.

To delete a tab, click on it to go to that tab. The active tab (that is, the one you're on) will have a little pencil icon next to the name in the tab itself (see image at the top of this step). Click the pencil, and you will see a link to Delete Tab. Make it so.

Step 5 - Add Back the Tabs You Want

At this point, your Page should look something like this:

Now it's time to edit your Page settings. People are always scared of things that say "Edit Settings," but don't worry - you can keep most of the default settings. This is where we go to add built-in tabs, including possibly some of the ones we just deleted.

Click the "Edit Page" link beneath your profile picture. You should see this page:

Scroll down past the Settings, Wall Settings, and Mobile Settings. If you're curious, look at the options they give you. The default settings are probably fine.

Beneath the settings, you will find a list of Facebook apps that have tabs you can add to your Page.

Tabs you may want to include are:

Photos - This really depends on your type of business. If you have photos - especially product photos - by all means add the Photos application and tab. You may also want to scroll back up to Wall Settings and disallow Likers from posting photos to your Page. If you don't have photos to upload right now today, I would wait until you have them to add the tab. It's disappointing for users to click the tab if there are no photos to see when it loads, so better to wait and add the tab later.

Video - Video is extremely powerful on the web and even more so on Facebook. My opinion however is that the Video tab is not the best place for video on your Facebook Page - I personally prefer custom landing pages with embedded YouTube videos for strongest impact - but the Video tab is certainly easier than a custom landing page. The Video tab is free and you can upload videos to Facebook. The custom tab costs time if you're technical and money if you're not.

Reviews - If you want to let your customers leave reviews on your Facebook Page, enable this tab. You cannot remove individual reviews if you disagree with something one person posts, but you can remove the tab later if you feel it does not serve you well.

Discussions - Depending on your business, the Discussions tab can be a great tool to keep people coming back to your Page. If your business serves a niche market, or sells specialized type of products like a sporting goods or fabric, then Discussions of relevant topics can be very engaging. Don't make the topics all about you specifically. Instead think of what types of things your customers are interested in that are related to your business, and discuss those. If you're a sporting goods store, discuss sports. If you're a fabric store, discuss sewing.

Static FBML - If you are not a coder, this tab is not for you. Skip to step 6. :)

If you know HTML however, you can use Facebook's Static FBML app to add web pages to your Facebook Page (and personal profile for that matter) as custom tabs. If you're very technical - especially if you're a Facebook application developer - you will be happy to know you can also use Facebook's proprietary FBML and FBJS languages on your custom tabs to integrate with their system. As far as I know, there is no way to use the platform API to query Facebook from Static FBML however. But if you're using platform API to create custom apps, you don't need Static FBML anyway.

Step 6 - (Optional) 3rd Party Application Tabs

Although your Page is the centerpiece of your business' presence on the site, Facebook offers fairly limited options for customizing the Page unless you are somewhat technical or have a tech team available to you. However, there are several 3rd-party apps available that provide various types of functionality for you to look into without paying the expense of a custom tab.

I will take this opportunity to plug one inexpensive tool that I am partial to here because (1) I built the app and (2) I designed it especially to help small businesses and entrepreneurs take advantage of all that Facebook has to offer in terms of getting referrals.

Like-Out-Loud is a custom tab you can add to your Page for $44 to maximize referrals from existing happy customers who Like you on Facebook. I find this is a missing link for a lot of businesses who understand that word-of-mouth advertising is "supposed to" flourish on Facebook, but don't know how to get the engine started. Like-Out-Loud bridges that gap by getting customers and Likers of your Page to actually spread the word about you. That is, afterall, what social marketing is really all about. Your job is just to send your happy customers to your Facebook Page right after you serve them when they are happiest with you, and Like-Out-Loud will do the rest.

Step 7 - Promote Your Page

This is arguably the most important, and most overlooked step in establishing your Facebook presence. Creating your Page is just the beginning - not the end - of your social marketing efforts. It's true, a few people will probably find your Page eventually by searching for it after doing business with you. However, you should actively promote it to get the most out of your presence on Facebook.

There are a lot of ways to go about growing your fan base (er "Liker" base). There's lots you can do for free, and even more you can do for a comparatively small investment. The most important thing is just to start letting your customers know you're on Facebook and ask them to visit your Page. If I could offer you a window decal I would.

Finally, you will also want to visit your own Page regularly to post status updates. Don't take the term "Status Update" too literally here. You can really post anything you think will be interesting to your Likers. This is the most powerful tool you have to stay current in your Likers' minds. Anything you post to your own Page automatically appears as if posted by the Page itself as opposed to your personal profile, and it appears in the newsfeeds of all your Likers (unless they unsubscribed from you).

Example: If you operate a sandwich shop in or near an office complex, 11:45am would be a really really good time to post a picture of your daily special to Facebook. Why? Because your Likers probably work at the office complex, and they are probably logging on to check Facebook while they kill 15 minutes before leaving for lunch. Couple that with a promotion to build your Liker base - post your favorite sandwich on our Facebook Page for a chance to win a free sandwich - and you've got a recipe for success.

I hope you've found this blog helpful. If so, please leave a comment and/or re-post it!