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How to build a Facebook fan page

I love Facebook. I mean really, it is my lifeline. And now, thanks to the extreme popularity of Facebook fan pages, I have a great way to help clients get involved on Facebook too.

The fan page, like everything in social media, can be built and done in a matter of minutes. That is, if you are not planning on having anyone look at it, connect to it, or like it. If you are, in fact, trying to give personality to your brand and connect with your customers, your Facebook fan page will take you substantially longer to create and will need to be maintained regularly.

* UPDATE – Before you build your page, you’ll want to know about the new changes to Facebook fan pages that will launch in January of 2010. They will have a direct impact on any company with a fan page.

Here’s how to get started.

1. Facebook appears to have hidden the “create a fan page” link on your home page. (If anyone knows where that is, feel free to let me know). So instead, you can go to an existing fan page, any fan page, and scroll down. On the left hand column at the bottom, it says “create a page for my business”. That’s the one you want.

2. You then have to select what kind of business you are, sign that you are authorized to be representing that business, and then create the page.

3. First things first, you’ll want to get your basic info on there. Click “edit the page” and scroll down to the information section. Click on the pencil and hit “edit”. They don’t give you a whole lot of room to be creative with this basic info. You’ll just enter info such as: website, address, and hours you are open. Nothing exciting.

4. Now you need a profile image. Yes, you can use your logo, but if your logo is a little boring and/or corporate, I’d recommend against it. Instead, I’d choose an image that represents your company, product or service. It’ll make the page a little more user friendly.

5. Add apps. Apps are the best way you can show your company’s personality. I’d start with the extended info app, as this allows you to create categories ie : favorite food, favorite TV shows, interests, travel, etc and then fill out your answers. What’s neat about this is that you can customize your categories to fit your business and your goals. If you are a tech company perhaps you’d use: favorite tech inventions of all time. If you are an apartment complex, maybe you make the category, best local places to eat. It’s up to you, but feel free to get creative and/or funny. People like funny.

There are many many other apps you can use, although depending on the type of business you are, there are some that may not be available. A couple that I really like are: the “You Tube Box” where you can showcase your favorite You Tube videos, the “Favorite Pages” where you can show other Facebook fan pages that you like, and “Networked Blogs“, where you can feed in your latest blog posts into your fan page.

6. Check your publishing settings. Some people may disagree with me on this, but I don’t think you should send an update to all of your fans every time you do anything on Facebook. True, that’s a good way to get your name repeatedly in front of them, but it’s also a good way to annoy them and, possibly, have them un-fan you. Again, look at your goals for the page and choose the updates that you think are most relevant to your fans. Do your fans care if you made an update to your extended info app. Probably not. What about a new event? Yes, maybe.

7. Add photos. I wouldn’t recommend doing a whole bunch of product shots, or building shots, or logos. If you want to have one “about us album” go for it. But since this is Facebook and it’s all about people and interacting, I’d recommend your pictures be people too. Whip out the camera at an event, take pictures of your employees, or pictures with your clients. Best of all, if you are able to have an event that your fans would come to, take pictures of your fans and then tag them. It will give your fan page added value.

8. Once you’ve gotten all this set up, go ahead and hit “publish” (it’ll be at the very top).  Keep in mind that for the page to be effective, publishing it doesn’t mean your done. You are going to want to make status updates, upkeep event info, add new images when they become available, start discussion threads, respond to people who comment on your wall, suggest your fan page to your friends, and plenty more. It’s all fun though. I promise.
Let me know if you think I’m missing anything and check back in next week. I’ll be sharing with you some pages that I think are doing it right.

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