Written by Nancy McCord.
Facebook is so popular that business owners can simply no longer consider it a site only appropriate for socializing and game playing. In fact, in September 2010, Facebook surpassed Google in regards to the amount of time users spent on their site. Facebook states that users spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook!
With 500 million active users, Facebook is the new behemoth on the Web. With its popularity across diverse age groups, integrated email application, and new Bing search integration, a Facebook user may simply no longer need to visit Google for Web searches or log off to use an email application. They may be able to experience the Web fully all from inside Facebook. With more than 50% of the active users logging into Facebook every day, according to Facebook, Facebook is now so important to your potential customers' lives that it make sense for you as a business owner to have a presence where your prospects are hanging out on a daily basis.
Let's clear up a few things that have confused business owners about Facebook. First, a Business Page is not to be confused with a personal profile. They are two separate entities and offer different options and ways to interact with friends and colleagues.
Many of you that have been using Facebook for a while will remember that Facebook used to call Business Pages - Fan Pages. Additionally, it used to be that someone "fanned you". Now they "like you". Don't get confused in thinking that a Fan Page is a different product than a Business Page they are one in the same.
All Facebook Business Pages start with the set up of a personal Facebook profile. That's right, a personal profile! You can't just jump to Business Page set up. The email address and name you use for your personal profile must be one tied to a person and not a catchall email like firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, that if you have an employee set up the personal profile portion for your Business Page, that you don't want them to tie the new account to an email that you will not have access to if they leave the company. If they do so and leave your employ, you could lose access to your Facebook Business Page, all of your accumulated fans, and information without recourse.
For set up I typically recommend that one of business owners create a new email address specifically for Facebook set up. Once you have set up the personal Facebook profile, you are ready to get started. But, don't take time to add information like education other details in this special account unless you plan on using it for your own personal use. You are just setting up this account to have a platform to launch and access your new Facebook Business Page.
While logged in to your new personal account, visit this link. It will take you to the Facebook Business Page creation tool to actually create your new page.
On the right side of the creation page select under the heading the "Official Page" and mark "Create a Page for a:" and then finally select "local business". Enter your page name and then tick the box next to the statement that says you are a legal business representative and allowed to own the page. It is important to understand that the name you choose for the title of your Facebook Business Page will appear at the top of your finished page.
I recommend using proper spelling and no use of hyphens or underscores in your selected name. It used to be we had to enter hyphens or the spaces would show as non-HTML characters in the page name and URL, but Facebook has grown beyond that need now. For example, enter in "My Business Name" (note the proper use of spacing and capitalization), not "My-Business-Name". This name will appear in your new Business Page URL as well.
Once you click create, the next page you see will be your brand new Facebook Business Page. It is that simple. Later after you've had 25 people "Like" your page you will be able to select a vanity URL, but we'll talk about that later.
After you have set up your Facebook Business Page, you can "lock down" your personal profile that was used to launch your Business Page. To do so, just you alter the privacy settings in the personal account to not show your personal information to others who are not "approved" friends.
When Facebook was first created many business owners including myself, started with a Facebook personal profile for their business. Now that Facebook has created Business Pages, you can easily change the privacy settings on your old personal profile to funnel your business traffic to your new Facebook Business Page keeping your old personal profile now just for family and close friends.
When you change the privacy settings on the personal profile attached to your Business Page, it does not impact who can view information about your Business Page. Just as equally, if you post pictures of your kids on your Facebook personal profile, that is the launch pad for your Business Page, and you have your personal profile limited to "friends only", your kids' photos will not appear on the wall of your Business Page.
Several reasons to have a Facebook Business Page are: the ability to contact all people who "Like" or who "Fan" you with newsletter type notes with one click, interact with discussion questions like a forum, set up events and invite fans to attend, and even create specialized welcome and shopping pages. Your Business Page can almost be a mini website!
Once you have 25 people that have clicked that they "Like" your Business Page, you can select a short easy to remember name to use to promote it on your website and business card. Your Business Page goes from something like http://www.facebook.com/pages/Waldorf-MD/mccord-web/129943573719686?ref=sgm to something like this http://www.facebook.com/mccordweb. Just visit this link http://www.facebook.com/username/. You can have vanity URLs for both your personal account and Business Page.
It is very important to understand that once you have selected your vanity URL you will not be able to change the name, so select carefully.
No one wants to be spammed, but sometimes new Business Page owners get excited and post what seems like a constant flow of information on their wall. It is important to understand that what you post on your wall is posted on the wall of the people who have clicked "Like" on your page. We encourage our clients, when they are doing status updates themselves, to be courteous and post about twice a day. Facebook is not Twitter and so 5 to 10 status updates a day could get you blocked or hidden by fans when they feel you have inundated their wall with your daily or hourly updates.
I hope that this white paper has helped to introduce you to Facebook Business Pages in a way that helps you to feel that you can easily set on up and have fun doing it. If you haven't set up your own Facebook Business Page, now's the time to consider setting one up. Facebook is only getting more popular and is actively seeking to woo the business community into their portal with demographic based pay per click advertising and the new integrating search with Bing.com.
If you feel that you need professional help in setting up your page or maintaining your updates and to interact with Fans, we ask you to consider our Facebook service offerings. I know that you will find us responsive and affordably priced.
If you like this white paper you'll love our in-depth 5 page "The Facebook Business Page How-to Guide". This white paper gives you more information on how to use FBML to set up a Welcome page, how to send a note to all fans, and our best practice tips. You'll subscribe yourself to our e-newsletter when you sign up to get this free download.
Nancy McCord is the founder and President of McCord Web Services LLC which provides blog writing services, Twitter and Facebook status updates, and Google AdWords services. Since 2001, Nancy McCord has developed a national reputation as an expert on blogging and how businesses can harness the power of Web for profit. You can visit Nancy and her firm at www.McCordWeb.com