Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Facebook Business Guide: How Companies Can Utilize Facebook Pages For Social Media Marketing - Part 1

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Did you know Facebook is a great tool for your business? Is your company utilizing the new features of Facebook Fan Pages to do social media marketing? If you are not yet leveraging the power of social media to boost your sales or engaging your customers, it is time you seriously take action on this front.

Photo credit: James Steidl

Facebook was originally conceived as a place to stay in touch with lost college mates. Time has passed since then, and now Facebook has become the largest social media in the world by far, with more than 300 million active users and a reported growth of 513.7% in the first six months of 2009 alone.

With Nielsen recently reporting Facebook on the tail of large companies like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo!, the company will probably grow even more in the second half of 2009 as well.

That said, how can you take advantage of this stunning popularity to create new opportunities for your company and reach a broader audience trough social media?

Facebook has just come to rescue by introducing some important changes to its business pages, which now allow even more interaction and engagement that you can turn to your advantage.

With this roll-out, everything changes. Brand's actions are now shared across the network, finally allowing them to participate as members of the community rather than remaining passive spectators.

Let's look together at the main changes:

  • The wall tab will become the official landing page for Facebook users, making pages more useful than before to showcase newest content and stimulating conversations with fans.
  • Users can select which tab to show to non-Facebook users as the landing page. This is particularly useful to let everyone access relevant information or specific content you want to promote even to those users without a Facebook account.
  • Content posted on the wall now will appear more often inside the News Feeds of your fans. Curating the wall will then be crucial to drive traffic to your page by spreading viral content.
  • The status update will gradually substitute inbox messages when it comes to sharing small bits of content with fans in a less obtrusive way.
  • Brands can sync their Twitter and Facebook accounts to automatically post selected tweets to Facebook as status updates.

In the first part of this Facebook Business Guide, you can find some key valuable strategies to help you leverage the most out of the communication and marketing potential available inside the new Facebook Pages features.

Thanks to the great research work done by the guys at The Advance Guard.


About Face: A Free White Paper On Facebook Pages

by The Advance Guard

Introduction To This Facebook Guide


In March 2009, Facebook changed their page offering for brands and businesses, introducing enhanced design and functionality options that more closely echoed the format of personal profiles. We believe this is a fundamental shift, going beyond just a new layout. It compels brands to now use the Facebook platform "socially".

Until now, many brand presences on pages have featured fixed design and layout at the top, using either static graphic panels or Flash animations. Most of these simply linked off-network. Facebook social activity - wall posts, discussion groups, photo and video albums - were pushed "below the fold".

This hierarchy led to featured content remaining isolated from the type of social activity that has led to the mass viral sharing of content amongst regular Facebook users. And while some companies began to join this conversation - engaging in dialog with their fans - their ability to interact was limited by their "brand voice" appearing only on their page.

With this roll-out, everything changes. Brand's actions are now shared across the network, finally allowing them to participate as members of the community rather than remaining passive spectators.

Gone are the fixed graphic areas (or rather - moved elsewhere, as we will discuss), replaced by a lifestream of activity that regular Facebook users will recognize from their own profiles. This activity stream - now the main landing area for fans - will also be shared across the network, appearing in newsfeeds on fans' homepages.

This offers a unique opportunity for brands to engage consumers, providing viral hooks to recruit new fans, and recurring opportunities for existing fans to re-engage. But to take advantage of this, brands MUST be social by:

  • Creating content,
  • sharing status updates,
  • posting photos,
  • hosting events and
  • making regular contributions to the Community.

It is an exciting opportunity, both for companies that already have Facebook pages, and those that want to take the first step.

This white paper has been written to provide some high-level ideas to get you started.


Who Is This Facebook Guide For?


This is not a beginners guide to Facebook.

Instead, it is written as a primer to those already familiar with Facebook through personal profiles and the old style pages. It addresses the new upgrades, and provides ideas and thought starters to help you create - or improve - your brand's presence.

Its not written - or endorsed - by Facebook.

We are a marketing consultancy, who work with a number of clients on their Facebook strategy and implementation, and who are passionate about the potential this platform offers to brands to socialize their presence and engage their fans. As such, this white paper is a work in progress.

But then again, is not everything?


Facebook Guide Structure


While there are many ways to start thinking about the building blocks for Facebook pages, we have structured this document to follow the sequence of tabs you will see when you visit a new page.

  • We will talk about some of the options for each tab in turn, to help you make decisions on how to initially set them up, and how to make the most of what they have to offer.
  • We will then focus on Facebook-created applications, and how to use them to enhance your page activity.
  • Finally we will cover options like setting landing URLs for non-fans, and thoughts on using the new Status Update function.

Note: There is some differences in terminology being used by Facebook - Facebook pages, fan pages and Public Profiles. We may update this in a future version.


Overview of The Facebook Navbar


The new design schema allows up to six visible tabs across the top of your brand's profile (see above example). As such, we believe this can be seen as a main navigation bar for your pages.

You have some control over the order, naming and function of these tabs. We will cover each of these in more detail in the following pages, but as an overview:

  • Wall - All Facebook members land on this tab by default, which always appears first on the navbar. Treat this as your home page and as a chronological "lifestream" acting as the primary focus for all fans.
  • Info - This is the second mandatory tab that needs to be completed in full for maximum effect. Available options will depend on your industry category.
  • Boxes - A freeform area that allows you to display custom text, graphic and animated areas, as well as boxes associated with custom applications.
  • Wall info boxes tabs - Several more visible tabs that you control. These could be filled with existing applications, such as photos, videos, events, discussions - or could be completely customized with your own original content by using the FBML application.

The exact number of tabs available for customization will depend on whether you remove the boxes tab, but there could be up to four extra tabs visible at any time.

Each tab has its own unique URL, so promotions and advertising - in fact, any link - can drive traffic to a specific tab. This could be particularly useful for a sweepstakes, promoting an event, or featuring a specific piece of content. You can also define which tab a non-fan, or non-Facebook member will see by default.

Remember, content from all tabs is now visible to non-Facebook members. This means your Facebook presence can act as a fully-hosted, highly-functional website to the outside world, with multiple sections.

Now let's look at our options each tab in order...


How To Set Up Your Facebook Wall Page


The most dramatic change for pages is that the wall - a chronological stream of all activity across your pages (including fan wall posts) - is now the default landing page for all incoming fans, so its important to plan a schedule for the release of content you will be creating and sharing, to keep this area fresh and relevant.

If you want the focus of this default tab to be solely on your own content - or if a high volume of fan wall posts pushes your own content off the page too quickly - consider changing the wall settings to "Only Posts by Page" as a default. fans who visit can then switch to see fan posts too. After changing this setting, you will need to refresh your browser to see the change take effect.

Deciding whether or not to limit to "Only Posts By Page" is an important one.

  • If you plan on updating your content regularly, this may be your best option.
  • For brands with less activity, defaulting to "Posts by Pages and Fans" will supplement this area with fan-generated posts.

Remember, this "lifestream" of your brand is not just a landing zone. It is a timeline, with your most recent activity first. Little (or no) activity from your brand will be very apparent to visitors.

Think like a blogger, not an advertiser - try to unfold stories over time, rather than blasting out messages. Later, we will show you which applications are best suited for this task.

(Note: You can choose to expand comments automatically. If you do this, and later want to remove a specific comment from a photo or video, you can only do this on the media itself, not from the wall page)

See how The New York Times has implemented the wall on their fan page.

See how Barack Obama's page utilizes the wall.


Make Your Facebook Info Page Friendly and Appealing


Up until now, brands could (and did) minimize the info section of their page. Many reduced it to only a URL field and a "Founded in" sentence, to take up minimal space.

In the new design, info has its own tab, fixed a the #two spot, and cannot be moved or deleted. This is precious real estate, so complete this section in as much detail as possible.

Depending on your industry category, the options for this section will change, but whatever they are, think beyond the standard boilerplate of information - make it as creative, interesting and friendly as you can. This can also be changed whenever you wish, so do not forget about it - keep it updated and relevant.

While you cannot style text in this area - or add images - you can expand some boxes with extended text paragraphs. URLs automatically hot link, so try to add links to all your brand presences - not just your websites, but YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, MySpace - anywhere your brand can also be found online.

See how NPR populate their info area with extended text and links back to their sites.


How To Use Facebook Photos App


Facebook is the largest photo sharing platform in existence. All members - including brands - can upload and share photos and images.

Facebook gives special prominence to photo updates on the wall, with large areas of the feed given over to image updates, so adding photos to your pages will reward you with high-impact news items.

There is no limit to the number of photos or photo albums (groups of photos) you can create, so do not hold back. Consider using Facebook as an image bank for:

  • Product shots,
  • posters,
  • advertising and
  • event photography that shows other Facebook fans.

Choosing album covers is a very important choice, as they will become the central image in the timeline both on your wall and in fan's newsfeeds. Any photo in an album can be chosen as an album cover and you can swap this at any time in the future.

Of all content, you will probably find that photos get the most comments and interaction from fans, all of which are transmitted across the network virally. So a content strategy that focuses on creating photos for any and all occasions will reap dividends.

See how Aerie by American Eagle uses photos to promote their clothing and fan events.


How To Integrate and Embed Videos Into Your Facebook Page


Video has always been a powerful medium for marketers, and Facebook's video application provides the ability to upload 16:9 high definition clips in multiple formats, up to 1GB in size, and up to 20 minutes time limit.

You will find the size and quality of video on Facebook to rival other online services, with the added benefits that we discussed with photos:

  • Social sharing,
  • tagging,
  • high-impact newsfeed population,
  • commenting.

Additionally, as the original uploader of a video, Facebook allows you (and only you) to embed these videos elsewhere on the web.

However, if you decide to use as your publisher database for brand videos, you can still populate them into you feed. Using the Links application (explained in the following pages), you can link directly to a clip, which will automatically embed a playable option in your feed, as well as transmitting that action to your fans.

This "embed" facility for video works for most of the major community video sites, including Vimeo and Viddler (in fact, any service Facebook has "whitelisted")

See how Target is sharing previously created videos.

See how Threadless create customized video messages for Facebook fans.


Managing Facebook Events


One major success in the virtual community of Facebook has been helping to enable real-world meetups between fans with the events application. With the page redesign, this capability becomes even more important, allowing brands to announce events on their wall and across the network.

All events created on Facebook can display attendees, show photos and videos, and even host its own discussion area. All this activity creates viral pollination, as each attending RSVP from a fan will enter into their newsfeed, spreading awareness for the event to their friends. (Make sure you follow up any event with a photo album or video. Do not forget to tag everyone in the photos that you know personally as well.)

Get creative with what you consider an "event." This could be a party, concert or new store opening, but it could also be any call to action. Many brands recently have turned watching the premier of a television show, buying an album or entering a sweepstakes into an event.

See how Verizon use events to inform fans of their sponsorship schedule.

See how Livestrong keeps fans notified about events happening around the country.


How To Use Facebook Discussions and Reviews


One application that most are probably already familiar with is discussions, the Facebook-provided message board application.

Once this is installed on your page, anyone can start a new discussion topic, respond to a question or join an already active conversation.

If you install this application on your page it is important that you are not only a spectator, but also an active participant. This is a great chance for fans to talk directly to the brand they love, and for the brand to respond.

As an additional bonus, if you are an administrator of your page and comment on your own discussion board, your posts will show up as belonging to the brand - not your personal profile - and populate that way onto the wall.

Another application to consider installing is reviews, especially if you have a brand that creates a range of products or package goods.

Positive reviews written by fans can provide strong motivation for trial and purchase. As with discussions, fan reviews populate into their newsfeeds for their friends to read, extending the reach of conversation.

See how Starbucks has designated a tab to a fan discussion group.

See how Ben & Jerry's showcase fan reviews on their pages.


How To Use Facebook Notes and Links


Another way to populate the Facebook platform - both on your wall and in newsfeeds of your fans - is to create notes and to post Links.

The notes application provides a freeform area that can contain text, links and graphics.

While design capabilities are limited (similar to that of an RSS feed), notes are ideal places to announce a sweepstakes or Sale, write Facebook-specific posts, or issue a special notice or press release.

The notes application can also be set to import stories from an external RSS feed, so if you have a blog, linking notes to your feed will automatically populate posts onto your page as they are published.

The Links application provides the ability to add URL bookmarks - the closest we have to for pages (Third party applications currently do not play well with pages). This could be a blogroll of friendly sites, links to news or press releases, or just to sites of interest.

Depending on your level of activity with these apps, you may decide not to include them in the wall / info sidebar or on the boxes tab of your page, but you should still install them, and use them as a way to populate stories and URLs onto the wall.

See how CNN displays notes on a tab to feature Facebook-specific topics.

End of Part 1

Originally written by The Advance Guard team, and first published on The Advance Guard on March 13th, 2009 as About Face: A Free White Paper on Facebook Pages.

About The Advance Guard


Formed in October 2007, The Advance Guard is a new media consultancy company that creates radical marketing programs using emerging technology and community platforms. Their focus is next-generation online marketing, using new technology, community dialog and social media techniques to engage customers and brands.

Photo credits:
Introduction To This Facebook Guide - Roberto Pirola
Who Is This Facebook Guide For? -Dima Lomachevsky
Facebook Guide Structure - Ieva Geneviciene
All other images - The Advance Guard

The Advance Guard -
Reference: The Advance Guard [ Read more ]
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posted by on Wednesday, November 4 2009, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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