Can someone explain what you DO with a Fan page on Facebook? What comes next? How does it help your business?
Since this was exactly what our seminar was on and I couldn’t come up with a clear answer, I decided to pretend I wasn’t one of the volunteers leading the session, but instead that I was one of the participants hearing about Facebook tools, pages, and applications for the first time.
This shift in mentality helped me focus on concepts I thought I knew a lot about, but as it turns out, didn’t actually understand as thoroughly as I probably should.
A Little Background about Life on Facebook
For me, college is synonymous with Facebook. The social network took off at the same time that I started my first semester, meaning I’ve been a Facebook addict since the very beginning – before I could upload and tag photos and before high schoolers even knew what it was.
Needless to say, it was hard for me (and many others at the seminar) to identify Facebook as a professional tool that could help organizations market themselves. All I knew it as was a site to, um, stalk old high school friends and ex-boyfriends.
Facebook: Pages Become a Professional Tool
As Facebook grew in popularity, the developers began releasing new versions of the site regularly. They redesigned the layout, launched new applications, opened the site to the public, and created “pages” to help organizations and causes promote themselves. At first, I thought “pages” were a way for Miley Cyrus fans everywhere to unite. I didn’t see the difference between pages and groups… what was the big deal and why would a company want to use Facebook pages?
All you have to do is look at some of the most popular Facebook pages to understand how they can help your cause go viral. Here are some great examples: Barack Obama, John McCain, Greenpeace, Apple, Susan G. Komen
Facebook Pages: Why They Work
- It’s free – Unlike MySpace which charges for-profit businesses for branded sites, Facebook pages are free to create for everyone.
- More customizable than group pages – You can use your organizations’ logo and arrange the content boxes to work with the layout of your page. No matter the size of your organization or budget, you can build a highly interactive community very cheaply.
- Stream content from other sites – By using Facebook applications such as RSS feeds, MyFlickr, and YouTube Video Box, you can easily manage your Facebook page with minimal work. Many of these applications simply aggregate the content you post on the other sites so you don’t have to do double the work.
- “Fans” self-select – The people who want your content can opt-in to it, which means these users are most likely champions for your brand or cause who will help build a Facebook community that promotes your organization. If naysayers post something about you in the message boards or wall, it won’t be too long before a fan counters or corrects the comment. This will most likely put your executive board at ease, since this is a huge concern for company leadership with launching social media initiatives.
- Fans Help Spread the Word – Facebook is social in nature and has many features to help spread the word about your page. When people become fans of your organization, it will show up on their mini-feeds, which all of their friends will see and (hopefully) click on. Depending on how popular you want your site to be, you will have to conduct some basic marketing to hype up your site, but at least you can count on others to do some of the work for you, too.
- Metrics and monitoring tools – Each page has a comprehensive monitoring capability called Facebook Insights. This allows you to monitor the effectiveness of your page and to bring specific demographic information back to the boardroom. Insights can also help you refine your Facebook ad campaign, if you have one.
Like any social media tool, I am sure there are downsides to Facebook pages and their effectiveness depends on the organization and brand. From my basic research, it looks like non-profits and politicians tend to do better than companies. If you are interested in learning more about pages, here are some more in-depth resources to check out:
Why Facebook? Mari Smith’s blog about Facebook “for fun and profits”
(If you have any others, feel free to add in the comments!)