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How to Promote and Maintain Your Facebook Business Page

To develop a fan base, keep people engaged, and increase sales, start with these steps.

Now that you've created a Facebook page for your business, you need to grow your fan base. Before getting started, however, know what your goals are. What do you want the fan page to accomplish for your business? Collecting a large number of fans is great, but you have to decide whether you're happy with exposure alone, or whether you want fans to become customers. Do you want your Facebook page to help you sell more products and services?

Having a lot of fans may not increase sales immediately, but it should at least increase the strength of your brand through reputation management, improved customer support, and the conversion of fans into advocates. Over time those tactics can grow sales. Your initial goal, however, should be to expand your reach, provide relevant information about your business, influence potential customers, demonstrate that you have authority in your field, and engage fans.

Attract People

Invite Contacts and Friends to Become Fans

Get started by attracting fans. Facebook pages have a feature that allows you to invite contacts to become fans of your new business page. Go to Edit Page, click Resources on the left, and then select Tell Your Fans.

You can upload a contacts file or search your email accounts for people using Facebook. Your contacts file must be in the CSV format, and it can't contain more than 5000 records. You can also search your Web email contacts. (Note that Facebook doesn't support Gmail currently. However, you can export your Gmail contacts as CSV, and then import them into Facebook via Upload a contact file.)

Some contacts will become fans of your page, while others will ignore the request. It's best to send the request only once; otherwise, you risk annoying potential fans. You can, however, offer an incentive or a reward for becoming a fan, which I'll discuss later.

Other methods of giving people the opportunity to find out about your Facebook page include embedding a link in your email signature; adding information about it on your business cards, website, and marketing materials; and posting a sign in your office.

Add a Facebook 'Like' Box

I also recommend adding a Facebook "Like" box to your website. You can do so by going to Edit Page, Resources, Use Social Plugins and selecting Like Box. Fill in the fields and then click the Get Code button. After you copy the code and paste it into your company website, visitors can "Like" your Facebook page directly. Facebook's 'Social Plugins' section under 'Resources' has a number of useful tools for websites, too.

Target a Specific Niche

After you start to grow your Facebook fan base, you can target a specific demographic. This may be the group most likely to become your fans--or you might want to focus on growing your customer base in other ways. I'll discuss this topic further when I look at Facebook Insights (see the next page).

Develop Relationships With Similar Businesses

If you develop relationships with similar businesses on Facebook, they may provide information and useful links, or even refer people to your business and help in promoting it.

For example, you can share their links on your site as they reciprocate by promoting your Facebook posts. If you cultivate strong relationships or have businesses that you recommend--such as a graphic designer who associates with your Web development firm--then you can add that party's Facebook page to the "favorites" list on your own page. You can easily put any other Facebook page on your list by scrolling to the bottom left and finding Add to My Page's Favorites.

How to Update Your Page

Obtain a Unique Username

Now that you've started adding some fans, focus on making your Facebook page interesting to your visitors. First, grab a unique username for your Facebook page to replace the long string of numbers that make up your page ID. (Luckily, Facebook no longer requires that you have 25 fans before you can create a unique username.)

Start on this page to select a username. Note that once you set this name, you can change it only once, and you can't transfer it to another page--so, before you start, confirm that you're logged in and using your Facebook page under your business name rather than your personal name. Taking this step will prevent your accidentally assigning your business page name to your personal Facebook page. Also, check Facebook's guidelines for what kinds of usernames you can use; your first choice may already be taken.

Explore Ways to Update

Facebook allows five types of updates.

1. Information about your business: You can post information about specials, sales, recent news, and other items of interest. If you have a blog, you can also add links to your blog posts. I'll discuss later how to automate this process.

2. Links to other sites: Other websites may have news and articles that interest your customers. I frequently posts links to other sites that have new content pertinent to my business.

3. Questions: Your fans want to belong to a community. Asking them questions about your products and services, as well as items that they would like to see, helps to engage your fans, which will in turn increase their loyalty to your brand.

4. Personal updates: By "personal," I don't mean that you should tell customers about your family or home life. Rather, add a distinctive touch that makes people see that a real person is behind the business. This step can be as simple as putting up a Friday post to ask what their plans are for the weekend.

5. Responses to questions: Fans will post questions about your products and services, and they may even leave complaints. This is an opportunity to provide excellent customer service. I don't ever recommend ignoring customer inquiries.

Integrate With Other Social Sites

Try integrating Google+, Linkedin, and Twitter with your Facebook page. Automating this integration can make it easier to manage updates, but it can also take the "social" aspect out of social media. Of course, manual posts offer a personal touch but consume more time, so prioritize.

Google+: Currently you can integrate a personal profile on Facebook so that your wall posts show up in Google+, but you cannot perform this procedure from a Facebook page. If you want to integrate the two, you will need to add a Google+ tab to your Facebook page. Go to the Facebook application and then to Google Plus Tab for Pages, and add the application to your page.

LinkedIn: You can't post directly from Facebook to LinkedIn, but you can send your Twitter material to LinkedIn. That way, if you've set up Facebook to post to Twitter, your Facebook content will also appear on LinkedIn. In your LinkedIn profile, click Add an Application and then select Tweets.

Twitter: To integrate Facebook with Twitter, go to this Facebook page. You'll have control over the type of Facebook posts that are shared with Twitter.

Blog posts: You can integrate your blog posts with Facebook via RSS feed by using a Facebook application such as Networked Blogs. Within Networked Blogs, log in with your Facebook account, register your blog, and complete the sign-up process. You can set up blog posts to appear on your Facebook wall automatically; alternatively, you can choose to set up the feed and then post selected articles manually.

Consider Reveal Tabs

A popular way to grow your fanbase is to use a Reveal Tab. This is a custom page that shows specific content only to people who have already "Liked" the page. You can use this feature to present Facebook-only offers, such as coupons, a discount code, or a free ebook. To set up a Reveal Tab, you can use a third-party tool such as Pagemodo or NorthSocial's FanOffer.

Pagemodo

In my guide to creating a Facebook page, I walk through creating a custom tab using the WSIWYG editor Pagemodo. Pagemodo calls its reveal tabs feature a "Like" gate, and offers the function as the fourth step in creating a new Facebook page. This feature is easy to enable, but it requires a Pro Package (which costs a little more than $13 a month).

North Social

North Social has a number of applications, and all are included when you sign up (for a fee starting at $20 a month). Fan Offer is the tool for creating reveal tabs for Facebook. Once you sign up, you need to allow access and then connect the application to your North Social account. Unlike with Pagemodo, in Fan Offer you create the reveal tab on Facebook directly.

The Fan Offer application is image-based. You provide one image that nonfans will see, plus a second image for fans. For example, the nonfan image can offer a tease such as "Like our page for an exclusive offer,” while the image for fans will tell them how to get a free item. You will need to make each 520-by-800-pixel image in advance. Once you have the images, however, adding them to the North Social app is a simple upload.

Add E-Commerce to Facebook

Although it's best to use Facebook primarily for reputation management and customer service, you can also integrate e-commerce and sell your products there. Two types of applications can help you do this, and I'll discuss a third-party tool for each. One pulls in data from an existing storefront on your website, via XML. The second is a stand-alone Facebook store. If you already have an online store, choose the first method.

Storefront Social

Third-party tool Storefront Social works with an existing online store. You can import your products via an XML feed or a CSV spreadsheet, or input data manually. Features include social share for letting fans share your product information. The basic plan costs $10 a month, and all plans include a seven-day free trial.

The basic plan doesn't include an import via XML, and it doesn't facilitate purchases made on Facebook; instead, when a customer is ready to buy a product, the page will direct them to your Web store. Since you can enter product data manually, you can integrate an Amazon Marketplace, eBay, or Etsy store on Facebook using Storefront Social.

TabJuice

TabJuice is a free, third-party online storefront that fully integrates with Facebook as a stand-alone store. Features include social integration, sales tax and shipping, accounting features, storefront design, and inventory management. TabJuice also includes promotions and lets you set up discounts that start and end during a designated time.

Once you visit TabJuice and select Open a Storefront, it takes you to Facebook to sign up. You then follow the Quick Start Guide. After designing the store, adding products, and activating the store, you must attach the store to your Facebook page and set up your payment gateway.

Selling Services

If you sell services rather than products, an application like TabJuice is still a good choice because you can customize it for your own offerings, and it isn't tied to an existing online store. You could also create a custom Facebook page with descriptions of your services that links over to your website for the customer to get more information or contact you directly. The e-commerce applications for Facebook are more tailored for selling products, however, so you will want to be more creative in how you set this up.

Perform Ongoing Maintenance

You'll be making a big time investment up front by setting goals, creating a custom page, crafting special offers, and establishing an online store. Even if you don't use these extra features, you'll want to post links, comments, and questions to your Facebook page regularly, as well as to respond to customer concerns. Depending on your company size and resources, this effort could be weekly, daily, or even hourly. You can make this time more efficient by tracking your page's progress through Facebook Insights.

Track Insights

Facebook Insights will help you determine the level of fan engagement, and it will let you know if people are discussing your posts, saying positive things about your company, or sharing your content with their Facebook friends. Divided into four sections, Insights was recently updated to include more data. You can export all of the data from the main Insights screen to analyze later.

Consider Facebook Ads

Advertising on Facebook can be an affordable way to increase the visibility of your business to other Facebook users. You can target each ad based on Facebook user location, demographics, and interests, and you can set a budget. For example, if Insights shows that I have a lot of visitors from Sweden, I may consider creating an ad campaign for users there. Or if most of my visitors are male, I might want to consider a campaign for female visitors in a certain age range.

Start with a small budget and determine how well your ads perform by how many new fans you get, as well as by Insights data. Once you've used up your budget, your ad will no longer appear until you add more funds. Ads are available via the Resources section of Facebook; go to Edit Page, Resources, Advertise on Facebook.

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