Using a Facebook fan page to promote your business

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The social networking site Facebook is used by 500 million people worldwide to share personal information with their friends. There’s a lot of potential for your business to build a loyal customer base on Facebook, which you can do by creating a Facebook fan page.

How does it differ from a personal profile page?

With a fan page you’ll be able to post regular updates to your fans, just like you can do with a normal Facebook account to your friends, but with a fan page, these statuses will be public. This makes a fan page very similar to Twitter, but there’s no character limit.

A Facebook fan page also allows you to assign administrators, so that every time they post it shows as your company name rather than their individual profile name. This looks more professional and  you don’t have the problem of personal and business communications getting muddled.

Build repeat custom and brand loyalty

A Facebook fan page is a great opportunity to encourage customers to come back to you time and time again. If they ‘like’ your page, your wall updates will show in their news feed , reminding them of your product or service and the (hopefully) positive experience they had last time they dealt with your company.

One way of keeping people interested in reading your fan page is to offer useful information to them, or run offers and competitions exclusive to Facebook fans.

Talk to your customers

The great thing about a Facebook fan page is that you can encourage interaction and talk to your customers – something that’s not always as easy to do on company websites. Encourage fans to share their experiences and opinions, and talk to your staff and other customers. You can use it as a form of market research, and you should definitely use it as another way of improving customer relationship management (CRM).

How to build your fan base

1. Get people to ‘like’ your page
When someone ‘likes’ your page, this means they are signing themselves up to see regular updates that you send. It’s the same as ‘following’ someone on Twitter.Also this will add a link to your fan page into their profile, so their friends can see that they like you, and your page gets extra promotion through word of mouth.

Getting people to ‘like’ your page should become part of your company’s normal promotional activity. Include it on emails to customers, encourage people to ‘like’ you after they’ve bought your product or service, or ask people to ‘like’ your page at promotional events and exhibitions. You might want to give people an incentive to ‘like’ you – such as a discount or entry into a prize draw.

2. Promote it with a Like Box
There are also ways that you can get people to view your Facebook page from your website. The most engaging is Facebook’s Like Box. This is a customisable block that you can add to your own website which will display your latest status updates, most recent images and links in your fan page’s feed.

screenshot showing how to customise a facebook 'like' box

3. Promote it with adverts
Facebook adverts are extremely customisable and can be used to advertise your website or your fan page to a wider audience of Facebook users. To start creating your Facebook advert, click here.

Many companies have also grown their fan base successfully (see here for some examples) by giving their users a unique experience.

There are many other ways to build your audience. If you want to know more see this article.

Perfecting your page

Customise your page by adding applications

You will notice that by default your page has the tabs “Wall”, “Info” and “Photos”. There are more tabs you can add by installing applications. such as a youtube tab which shows all your company videos. To learn more about custom tabs, see this article and take  a look at some good apps here.

If you have a little more technical know-how, you can also customise your page further by adding custom tabs with bespoke functionality. This is achieved by using FBML, Facebook’s own programming language. There’s a tutorial on how to use FBML here.

Don’t make it all about you

No-one wants a heavy sales pitch every time they log onto Facebook. If all you ever post on your Wall is stuff promoting your services and products, or saying how wonderful your company is, your fans will soon get bored and ‘unlike’ you.

You have to give them a reason to stay a fan. Can you offer them useful information, offers or discounts? Can you ask for their opinions on your service or your new products? Can you invite them to get involved and post their own content on your page (such as videos or photos?).

See statistics about your page and your fans

A great feature of a Facebook fan page is that it collects information about your fans: how many you have and how ‘active’ they are (are they commenting or liking your content?) Facebook calls this “Insights” and also gives you charts of your users by age, location, and gender, and graphs showing the amount of people who have viewed your content over the past week. Here’s an article explaining more about Facebook Insights.

Used well, a Facebook fan page can  increase customer loyalty and repeat business and can also raise  awareness of your company or product through word of mouth. It  gives you an opportunity to  communicate better with your customers so you can understand what they want and ultimately provide them with a better product or service. With the Insights statistics you can also really see if your efforts are working – if it is, you can prove its value to your bosses and if it’s not, you can perfect and improve your page.

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