Six years since its birth, Facebook has extended beyond socially connecting users around the world to providing a tool for businesses to engage customers. As Facebook has recently surpassed Google as the destination where users spend the majority of their time online (in the US at least), businesses should definitely establish a presence on the social network. Read on to find out how.
Customise the page
By default, your business's Facebook Page has a set of standard - and limited - tabs at the top. First is the Wall, where status updates, links, photos, and videos appear. The Info tab has pertinent business information, such as the address, phone number, and hours of operation. Then you have a couple other rarely used tabs. What you need, though, is a way to break free from these restricted, cookie-cutter tabs and customise your Facebook Page.
Thankfully, the service has its own Facebook Markup Language (FBML), and you can also find a Facebook app that will allow you to add FBML tabs to your Page, which you can customise as you wish. You can create a tab for coupons or photos of a recent event, for instance, and direct fans to land there first. To start, visit the Static FBML page and click Add to my Page at the upper left of the screen.
On your Facebook Page, click Edit Page on the left under a photo you've chosen to represent your business. You will find Static FBML listed under Applications. Give your FBML page a title, and insert your text and FBML code to create a custom page. You can add more FBML tabs by clicking the Add another FBML box at the bottom of the FBML edit screen.
Claim your Facebook place
The Facebook Places service is a relatively new addition to the social network. Following the trend that sites such as Foursquare and Gowalla established, Facebook now enables users to do location-based check-ins. That means that a customer who visits your business may announce where they are to their extended social network, and possibly share opinions and feedback about your business.
You can log in to a Facebook account that you wish to associate with the Facebook Page, or set up a limited business account not tied to an individual Facebook profile.
If a Facebook Place does not exist for your business, any user who checks in can simply create one for you. Since the Facebook Place will most likely exist whether you like it or not, you may as well claim it and manage it.
A Bing map pinpointing the location of your business will appear at the top of the Facebook Places page. You can enter information, such as the actual address and phone number. The Facebook Places page will display all of the check-ins for your location from Facebook members, and you can post status updates to the Facebook Places page.
Unfortunately, Facebook doesn't offer a way to merge the Facebook Page for a business with the Facebook Places page for that business. This overlap and redundancy can create a bit of an administrative headache.
The exposure and word-of-mouth advertising aspects of customers letting their Facebook social networks know about your business is a tremendous benefit, though. And you can use Facebook Places check-ins as a marketing tool by providing incentives or discounts for users who check in, or who do so most frequently.
This digital-pen company offers shopping and tech support at its Facebook Page.
You'd be wise to post status updates periodically with a link to your company's Facebook Page to drive Facebook Places users to engage there, as well.
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