Has the latest round of Facebook changes got your head in a spin? Are you confused as to how your business can truly benefit from the number one social network? Look no further! Let me help lift that fog of confusion for you and walk you through the fundamentals of Facebook for the business owner.
STEP 1: Review Your Personal Timeline (Profile)
With the new Timeline design, you have an option to add a large “cover image” at the top to depict something of interest to you. You can get as creative as you wish, with a unique photo or graphic, and you can change it as often as you wish. The dimensions are 851 pixels by 315 pixels.
The new wall layout with its two columns can take a bit of getting used to. One tip to better view your wall activity is to highlight certain posts as “double wide” by clicking the star icon. This works great for photo and video posts.
As you review the content on your wall, you may decide to adjust the privacy settings on a post-by-post basis. To do so, just click the audience selector icon and choose the level of visibility you wish for that post. And, as you review the number of friends that you currently have, give thought to your approach for using your personal profile. You may wish to keep your profile for connecting only with friends you already know and with family members. Or, you may wish to blend both your personal and professional worlds. With the new Subscribe option, a growing number of Facebook users are opening up their personal profiles for more visibility. (See Step 3 below for further information on this.)
My recommendation is to use your profile for a mix of both personal connecting and professional networking. Regardless of how you choose to use your profile, you’ll want to double-check all your Privacy Settings.
STEP 2: Adjust Your Privacy Settings
One of the many questions I’m asked frequently is, “How do I know what is public and what is just between me and the person to whom I’m talking on Facebook?” The short answer is simple: the only communication that is private between you and another person is one-on-one email. Otherwise, all the wall posts, posts on friends’ walls, comments, likes, photos, videos, and links you share are visible to friends, friends of friends, a custom audience, or public (everyone), depending on your privacy settings. All posts on Pages are public by default. The visibility of all activity in Groups is determined by whether the Group is open, closed or secret.
As you go through your privacy settings, keep in mind your overarching strategy for using Facebook. If you’re focusing on mostly personal, be sure to minimize the visibility of much of your settings. The screenshot below shows the Tagging and Timeline section, with my own settings:
My approach to all of social networking is that if I’m not comfortable with something being plastered on the cover of a major magazine, found in a Google search, or proud for my own mom to see, then it just does not go online. Period. Of course, I realize this is not practical for most social network users!
STEP 3: Grow Your Network of Friends and Subscribers
Facebook allows you a maximum of 5,000 friends; however, the average number of friends users have is just 130. Having key contacts as friends allows you to maintain a more personal connection with them.
Plus, in September 2011, Facebook introduced a new feature called “Subscribe.” This is where any user on Facebook can sign up to receive the posts you make to Public. All other content you have locked down to “Friends Only” will not be visible to your Subscribers.
Subscribers is one of the fastest growing channels I’ve ever seen on a social network. It took me four years to reach 60,000 fans on my fan page, and just four months to reach 120,000 subscribers on my personal profile. Now, just six months after enabling the Subscribe feature on my profile, I’m amazed to have well over 200,000 subscribers.
There are many creative ways to build your subscribers, which is beyond the scope of this post. However, let me just say that I highly recommend that you enable the Subscribe option, too!
STEP 4: Set Up a Facebook Page
Once you’re happy with the way you’ve chosen to use and configure your profile, it’s time to set up your Business Page, often referred to as a “Fan Page” or just a “Page” (vs. “Profile”).
With Facebook’s 845 million active users—half of whom log on daily for an average session time of 55 minutes—having an active Facebook Page helps gain tremendous visibility for your business and meets your prospects/community where they hang out most. Plus, Facebook has specifically designed Pages for commercial activity. In other words, it’s perfectly acceptable to market and promote on your Page, whereas you have to strike a fine balance on your personal profile.
What You Need to Know About Facebook Pages
- You need to have an account on Facebook in order to create a Page.
- Your Page will be tied to your personal profile as the admin of your page; however, only you and Facebook need to know the connection exists.
- You have the option of always interacting on your Page, as your Page, and keeping your personal profile protected. Or, you could choose to feature your profile in the “About” section and also engage on your own page from time to time as your profile, if you wish.
- You can have an unlimited number of Facebook Pages.
- You can have an unlimited number of fans (Facebook users who “Like” your page).
- Facebook Pages are public—anyone can find and view your Page whether they are logged into Facebook or not.
- All content posted on your Facebook Page gets indexed on Google.
- You can target your posts by location and language. (Look for the button right next to the “Post” button).
- The new Timeline design will automatically apply to all Pages from March 30th, 2012.
- Just like your personal profile, you can add a large cover image to your Page. The dimensions are the same, 851x315px.
- Facebook has tight rules around what cannot be placed on Page cover images, including no contact information or calls to action.
- You can add applications to your page, including your own custom content—video, rich text, graphics, opt-in box and more.
- You can add additional Admins (highly recommended).
- All Admins have equal rights to administer your page, including adding and removing other Admins (choose with care!). However, good news: at the recent Facebook Marketing Conference, one of the announcements for upcoming features included five levels of administration for Pages.
- Start here to create your Facebook page.
Study Other Facebook Pages
To get a sense of what’s possible for your own Facebook page, look at a variety of examples in your own industry and related industries. See this fun site called Facebakers. Plus, here are a couple of posts with great Timeline cover image examples.
For a full walkthrough of the new Timeline design for Facebook Pages, see this post. As of March 30th, 2012, all fan pages will automatically switch over to this new design.
So, that’s it! That’s all you need for now—a profile with a strategy and settings you’re happy with, plus the makings of a robust, active Facebook page.
About the Author
Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is a passionate social media thought leader, relationship marketing specialist, and one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing! She is author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Fast Company describes Mari as, “A veritable engine of personal branding, a relationship marketing whiz and the Pied Piper of the Online World.” Both Dun & Bradstreet Credibility and Forbes named Mari one of the Top Ten Influencers in Social Media. Mari consults with businesses of all sizes around the world to help accelerate their profits by integrating proven social media marketing strategies.