Facebook Pages: A Business Venture

Admittedly, Facebook Page web design is a strange topic to lead off a blog on business writing. But Facebook’s simple user interface lets a user design an effective business webpage quickly. The result may be a little formulaic, but it’s clean and can be customized into a very effective marketing tool. For the most part, the technical knowledge required is minimal. A good copywriter is essential for any Facebook Page project, and a writer that isn’t afraid to take on some technical work can take on the entire project.

Simple to use and easy are two different things, and my experiences in building two different Facebook Pages have taught me that building a Page from scratch is just about a full-time job for at least half the work week. Custom options can utilize images, video and other high-quality content to engage an audience, but implementing even just a few of those features can be time consuming. The written copy involved may only total a few hundred words, but the messages must be carefully constructed to convey the brand correctly.

Facebook Pages can be broken down into a few crucial aspects to better understand their impact on a business or brand:

Likes

An effective Facebook Page is able to build a steady stream of ‘Likes’ over the course of time. These ‘Likes’ create the social network across which your content can be seen. Ideally, users will ‘Like’ a brand for its real-world presence, but inviting friends and sharing the Page on your personal profile are good ideas to get it front of people’s eyes.

See the entire Page at facebook.com/Tom.and.Steve.in.OfficeHours

This is a partial screenshot of one of the Facebook Pages that I’ve created. This Page is the Facebook home of “Office Hours,” a YouTube web series I’m starring in/producing. (And here you thought I wasn’t going to be able to feature my acting work without being self-serving. Well, not completely self-serving.)

Currently, I’m at 130 Likes. The Page has existed since early April, so that seems a little unsuccessful. But the Page began about the same time that “Office Hours” episodes began uploading to YouTube, so we weren’t bringing an established brand to Facebook. Starting a Facebook Page has been a smart idea for us because it’s become a place to build a community of fans. And with a production budget of $0, we weren’t getting billboard space.

Applications

It seems like every software platform these days comes with a bevy of applications to perform innumerable tasks. Mobile devices are commonly associated with apps, but Facebook supports a number of proprietary and third-party applications that go a long a way in organizing content and building fan participation.

You can do some quick Google searches online to find out about available Facebook apps, as the website doesn’t do a great job of suggesting any for you to use. Some apps that I’ve found intriguing:

  • Extended Info – Add an empty box of content that can be formatted with images, words and other content. Box title can also be customized. For instance, if your Page is for a restaurant, have a Daily Special box with pictures and prices. For a weekly stand-up comedy night, a Performer box with bios and headshots of next week’s performers.
  • YouTube – There are actually a couple of different YouTube apps that help you upload video content to your Page. The YouTube for Pages application lets a Page owner link his entire YouTube channel as a Page tab. For “Office Hours,” however, I might choose to use the Tabmaker YouTube app, which allows a user to select certain videos. There are more videos in my YouTube channel than the web series, so this would keep the content appropriate to the page.
  • Static FBML – Unless you feel like programming your own custom application (and some Page owners do), this is about as tech-savvy as it gets. FBML, or Facebook Markup Language, is a derivative form of HTML web code. Downloading the Static FBML app to your Page allows you to add clickable images or stylized fonts, among other forms of rich content.

Community

I think this deserves to be mentioned separate from Likes, because this speaks to a Page owner’s work after those Likes have been built. Now that you have a large network of people subscribed to your Page, you need to make sure that your audience feels like it’s in dialogue with the Page. That’s the entire social aspect of Facebook Pages for businesses right there. The tendency is to want to build the page to market to potential clients. Although that’s one way to use the Page, it shouldn’t be the main focus as people will tune out product pitches after a while.

To go back to the restaurant example: yes, if you’re a restaurant, indicate your prices. It’s important. Facebook Pages even has a price listing included with the main Info box near the top of most Pages. But share specials, or news about new menu offerings. Don’t push the roast beef sandwich that people can get everyday just because the meat’s getting close to expiration. Fans will come back to the Page if they’re being given access to useful content, such as a coupon or a discount code.

One really interesting case study included in the Facebook Pages Best Practices guide is the Page for the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, an upscale chain of movie theaters that serve drinks during films. The company ran a promotion through their Facebook Page that gave a free pint glass and a chance for free tickets to anyone who “checked in” after arriving. Each check-in creates a story on a user’s News Feed that other people see. The campaign received nearly 5,200 check-ins. If each of those check-ins even only has 100 friends, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema reached a probable audience of 500,000 with almost no media buy, save for the pint glasses.

If you are any type of business, even a professional freelancer (almost especially a professional freelancer, who may find it difficult to purchase traditional advertising), you’re going to want a Facebook Page dedicated to your work. What should you pay for it? Depends on how in-depth you want the Page’s features to go. You’ll help yourself out a lot if you can research applications and other customizable features beforehand to have an idea of what applications are going to benefit your Page. Plan to spend about $200 on a Page developer for just a barebones page, and about $50 or so per added Page application.

If you’d like to discuss how to increase your Facebook business presence, click on the Contact Info tab above and drop me a line today!

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