With the development of the Web 2.0, there was the emergence of various online marketing tools, as is the case of social media. Also known as social networks, it can be defined as “tools that allow the sharing of information and creation of communities through online networks of people” (source: http://www.constantcontact.com/learning-center/glossary/social-media/index.jsp#SocialMedia). Some examples include Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, MySpace and Facebook. This last one, created in February 2004, has already over 500 million users. It is worth analyzing the statistics. Facebook is used by 1 in every 13 people, with over 250 million of them (over 50%) who log in every day. Over 700 Billion minutes a month are spent on Facebook, 20 million applications are installed per day and over 250 million people interact with Facebook from outside the official website on a monthly basis, across 2 million websites. Over 200 million people access Facebook via their mobile phone. 48% of young people said they now get their news through Facebook.
In just 20 minutes on Facebook over 1 million links are shared, 2 million friend requests are accepted and almost 3 million messages are sent. Statistics taken from here (http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/Facebook-statistics-stats-facts-2011/)
After all, what are the advantages of a business account on Facebook?
- Create a page is free. This is especially important for small businesses that do not have the budget to pay a web developer.
- It is easy to create and anyone can update the account.
- Comment integration can be especially interesting for creating an online social community.
- The like and share buttons help viral marketing campaigns or the so-called word-of-mouth marketing and makes it work at scale.
- The business-customers interation is more direct, fast and personal. People like dealing with people and through honest answers to customer enquiries / complaints, it is a great opportunity to show your business’s human face and provide an excellent customer service.
- Unlimited fans.
- Facebook pages have been showing up high in search engine positions.
How to create an official Facebook page for the business?
To learn how to grow a business with Facebook’s marketing tools see, http://www.Facebook.com/business. Here, http://www.Facebook.com/FacebookPages, is where Facebook Inc. updates the community on Facebook Page upgrades. To create a Facebook page for your business, you must be logged in your personal Facebook account and follow these steps, http://www.Facebook.com/pages/create.php. First, there are 6 categories in which the business can be inserted and later you can choose something very specific to that category. If you want to change the category in the future, you can do it. Unlike the name that will be seen within the URL of your Facebook page (extremely important for SEO). The next step is the customization of the page.
- profile picture: is the representation of the page in an image. In searches, the icon chosen is one of the first things that attracts users’ eyes.
- about section: brief description of what the business is about.
- likes: ideal to promote and associate all your other pages.
- page title and category: 25 likes are required before Facebook.com/yourwebsitename can be used as URL however, you are only able to edit the name of the page if you have 100 or less fans. Afterwards, it is permanent. The category can be edited anytime.
- page body: where you post new information and have feedback from others.
- administrative links: only the admin can see them. Facebook Ads (the pay-per-click program), notifications, Facebook statistics and suggestions of friendship are part of this area.
The final step is to publish the page.
If happens what the image below shows, check if you are already a fan of your own page (a page with 0 fans will not be published) and make sure you have published some content in the body area. You must post regularly, your posts should be useful and interesting and use all media you have available (videos, photos, text).
Should you create a Facebook group or a Facebook fan page?
Before answering this question, it is necessary to analyze the characteristics of each. A Facebook fan page is static, like a web page. It gets updated by you, as a blog or a website. According to the settings, it may not allow users posts. The right use for it is to promote your small business, your personal website or something you have legal rights to. In other hand, a Facebook group is like a message board. It does not support Facebook Markup Language (FBML) neither Facebook Apps, so it is not as interactive as could be. It gets moderated by you and the conversations are posted by you and other members. It is central around calendar events and updates and it is moderated by you. The right use is for a cause, a local community or a discussion forum.
For a business, you should create a Facebook fan page. Why?
- Pages get internal promotion on Facebook.com
- Pages have more options for customization
Groups seem chat rooms where there is no real look and feel. Pages are customizable by addition of new tabs, graphs, static information.
- Search Engine Visibility
Pages can be seen by non-Facebook users and can be found by search engines. Facebook groups can not.
Pages are completely anonymous. Nobody will know that you are the owner, unless you inform users.
- Groups can be annoying
You will get an email every time someone comments under your comment. This is a default setting. In pages this also happens but groups are more like chat rooms than pages.
How to promote a Facebook page?
Facebook has its own search engine. Fan pages are important as the results show all Facebook fan pages at the top. Facebook uses an algorithm just like all search engines. Facebook pages that are constantly updated (contributions from fans are also valid) and continue getting fans (especially ones who interact with the page) will appear higher in Facebook page search results. This has nothing to do with the number of fans that each page has.
There are several ways to advertise the new Facebook business page. One is through social networking such as tumblr, youtube, wordpress, vimeo, flickr, linkedin, orkut, myspace and many others. Another is to suggest it to your friends via facebook option. And a third is put a Facebook like box on your blog, http://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/like-box/. It is a widget that you can access through the administrator menu of your page, https://developers.facebook.com/docs/plugins/. This is a good practice due to the fact that the number of fans and the direct link to your facebook page are visible, making it easier to share your page or website.
You can also include a share button to your website posts and include the URL in your e-mail signature.
Facebook page analytics
Facebook has analytics for Facebook pages. There are five main components.
- This week’s statistics: This is a brief of what happened this week in terms of page fans liking, commenting and posting on your page wall. The more activity the page has, higher will be the numbers. Would be a good idea to invest in your brand’s personality through interacting with customers through social media.
- Interactions graph: This graph takes your weekly statistics and puts them in graph form. The drop-down gives you options for interactions, interactions per post, post quality, posts, discussion posts, reviews and mentions.
- Demographics: It lets you see which gender, male or female, and age group is most engaged with your Facebook Page.
- Fan Data Chart: This chart gives you a visual representation of total vs. unsubscribed fans. The additional drop-down options include new/removed fans, top countries, page views, etc.
- Fan Data Demographics: This bar-chart version of the data mentioned in the Fan Data Chart gives you the same data, but in numerical format. It also includes gender and age.
However, these analytics are only available when Facebook considers your page to have significant number of fans and interactions.
Some examples of successful businesses with presence on Facebook.
Pringles differs itself by using one of the most shared online content, the video. It captures the fans through notification of new content, discussions and interactive games. They found out that their type of audience reacts well to comedy and now use the Facebook page to spread funny videos with viral potential. It is free advertising.
The main focus of Starbucks is the constant status update. A page with new content always gives the fans a reason to return. This page is a great example of how the focus on quality of content, rather than applications, can also result in high involvement of the fans. The content is generated by the company and the fans.
In addition, defining the approach is important because the Facebook page should transmits what the business is in real life. Special offers and competitions are two possible approaches to give a good reason to like your page or to maintain followers.
In conclusion, apart from the personal use that most people do from Facebook, this is a tremendously valuable business tool.