You've decided to create a Facebook page for your company. Seems easy enough: first you registered your page, created a company name and filled in your basic information. You've got less than 10 fans and a pretty basic profile picture. Now what? You obviously want the page to broaden your online presence and attract customers but how on earth do you do that? What makes some company Facebook pages more effective than others?
"In order to build a compelling Facebook page that yields measurable results, business owners first need to identify their main objectives," says Mari Smith, relationship marketing expert and co-author of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. "So many small business fail to fully benefit from all that Facebook offers quite simply due to a lack of clear goals and a strategy to achieve those goals."
So your first question should be: why am I on Facebook; what's my goal? Whether it's selling more products, improving customer service or creating new relations, determining what you want to achieve with your company page should be the first necessary step. Then it'll be easier to use Facebook more effectively.
"There's a number ways that businesses can utilizes Facebook," says Grady Burnett, director of global online and inside sales at Facebook. "The world's always been social and the web has traditionally been fairly anonymous and Facebook is very focused on trying to provide tools and an environment to drive engagement and discussion between people and communities, institution brands, companies and small businesses."
Facebook makes it easy for business owners to set up pages. After speaking with the company and a few of the top social media experts, Inc.com has compiled a list of four key steps to create an effective company Facebook page.
How to Create an Effective Company Facebook Page: Understanding the Features
"Getting the page right and understanding what content is there is probably the best starting point," Burnett says. "There's a lot of different features and if you just focus on one, it might not get the benefit that you need overall."
From creating events to posting photos of your product to updating your status announcing a new service or deal, understanding what capabilities you have at the tip of your fingers will help you develop a rock-solid strategy, and look, for your page.
"So if you're a restaurant, sharing a video of a head chief giving a cooking tip or something like that, it's a great opportunity where that functionality is built into the page," Burnett says. "If a company is using all of that it provides a great rich environment to engage their user base."
It may seem overwhelming, at first, determining which features to use to enhance the look of your page, but it's easier than you think. Here are a few popular features that have proven to be effective for many business pages:
Wall Posts - This is the platform that allows customers to express themselves and tell you exactly how they feel about your product or service. Any feedback is useful feedback. So to encourage customer interaction make sure you enable that capability on your privacy settings. Click the privacy settings option on the account tab and make sure the "Friends can post on my Wall" and "Can comment on posts" option is set to "Everyone."
Upload Photos - Many companies use this feature to put up pictures of its product and customers using its product. However, a unique way to use this feature is to allow your fans the capability to tag photos of themselves using your product to your page as well. Setting the "Photo and videos I'm tagged in" option to "Everyone," or maybe just fans of the page is a way to foster a closer connection between your customers and your page.
Direct Purchase - Constructing your page to be a one-stop shop for customers to interact, engage and buy your product has proven to be extremely beneficial for companies. Adding a product tab to your page allows fans to view all of your products and easily purchase then without having to get off Facebook and visit a website that they are potentially unfamiliar with.
Custom Page Apps - This is where you can get really creative. Facebook allows you to integrate an app can be built into your Page to create unique quizzes, games or other interactive features. Building custom tabs is what sets your Page apart from your competitors and attracts more customer engagement. It may take some website know-how to develop your app, but Facebook's got you covered for that as well.
Placing ads on Facebook is another feature that will help drive traffic to your page and even your company. There are two main types of ads for business owners to choose from: self-serve and premium. The former has become the most popular among small business owners.
"The self serve offers a tremendous product for a local business," Burnett says. "It's very flexible and easy to get started. They can do this on their own at their own time [to] understand and apply their key target."
Dig Deeper: How to Advertise on Facebook
How to Create an Effective Company Facebook Page: Developing a Strategy
"Everybody needs a strategy," says Gary Vaynerchuk, social media expert and author of The Thank You Economy. "Most people right now are just keeping up with the Joneses. If one of their competitors has 5,000 [fans], then you need to get to 5,001. I equate it to the difference between a sales person and a marketer: sales people are always looking at what happens today, instead of long term."
So developing a strategy that will help you keep focused on your goal is important. There are several strategies to choose from. Smith highlights seven specific ones for you to consider, some of which coincide with what we've gathered from Burnett and other social media experts.
Design Strategy - "Your design needs to reflect your primary objectives," Smith says. "Let's say one of your top goals is to drive traffic to your blog - you'll definitely want to incorporate ways to highlight your blog in your Facebook page design."
Vaynerchuk suggests creating a smart, customizable welcome tab or landing page will attract more people to your page than the traditional layout. Take advantage of the features Facebook provides to enhance your page.
Promotion Strategy - "Keep in mind it's better to have a smaller, highly-targeted, qualified and engaged audience than a large audience who doesn't pay much attention to you," Smith says.
Encourage customers to "Like" you on Facebook; give them a coupon if they do. You can do this in your store or from your website or blog.
Content Strategy - "Posting regular interesting updates, being active and updating fans quickly with the latest information," are three suggestions Burnett says you should consider when thinking about content.
Many company pages have walls filled with updates—one after another. What you'll notice is that these pages are getting little to no "Likes" or comments from fans. Why? Because instead of talking with customers, they're talking at them: read this, check out that. While some of those are OK, you need to focus on engaging your audience.
"[Your wall] should be a mix of your own content and what I call OPC - other people's content," Smith says. "It's a good thing to share other industry blogs, links, resources, etc. That way you'll be seen as a business who cares enough to share a good depth and breadth of your topic and not just your own opinion."
Dig Deeper: How to Get Customers on Facebook and Twitter
How to Create an Effective Company Facebook Page: Engaging With Fans
"One thing that matters a lot in pages as well as in ads is really being open and authentic," Burnett. "Making sure that what you're sharing on that page or in your ads also transmits that company culture."
This is where you need to focus your attention. Successful company Facebook pages are called so because they do an excellent job at engaging their community. They listen more than they speak. And if you listen carefully, your fans will tell you exactly what does and doesn't work about your product/service. But in order to start that open conversation, your customers need to feel that you're genuinely devoted to listening to their feedback and that you'll use the feedback to improve your product for them.
"Consumer's BS radars are much stronger than people think," Vaynerchuk says. "Intent is imperatively important."
"Companies like Threadless is one that engages that community and adjusts their inventory and what T-shirts they create based on what their community says," Burnett adds.
You'll find that it's more effective to let one person or small group of people manage your page. Presenting one consistent, clear voice for your company reassures fans that they're interacting with an actual person from your company, not a generic blast of self-promotional updates.
"Frequently interacting and making that interaction valuable for the customers" is key, says Howard Greenstein, social media strategist and president of the Harbooke Group. "Give them a reason to come back to the page, not just a reason to "Like" [your page] in the first place. That's what's going to help you turn those people into fans, and fans into customers. If they're already customers, turn them into evangelists for you—people who are going to go out and sell on your behalf."
Dig Deeper: How to Optimize Your Facebook News Feed Presence
How to Create an Effective Company Facebook Page: Tracking and Measuring
"Facebook does provide a decent range of metrics with their Insights tool," Smith says.
You'll never know how effective your strategy is without a way to track or measure it. You really don't need to develop a complex system for this, there are companies that can help you do this. But a simple way to determine what's working and what's not is looking at which posts, updates and comments are generating the most interaction among your fans.
"Be sure to track what you're sharing and at what time then compare that to the response of fans so you can keep fine-tuning your approach."
"Understanding the tone and the DNA it takes to be successful in an open environment is the key," Vaynerchuk says. "Whether it's a Facebook page, or a Twitter account or something we don't know exists, the fact of the matter is there will be a community around your business on the Web, period—forever."
Dig Deeper: How to Measure Your Brands Online Influence