Over the past couple of months, I’ve spent a lot of time working on Facebook Pages for clients. To say the least, it has been eye-opening, educational and enlightening.
From the outside looking in, creating a Facebook Page is a straightforward process for companies that want to establish a bigger digital presence. With Facebook having more than 600 million registered users, Facebook Pages have become increasingly irresistible. In some respects, it reminds me of when I was a reporter in Hong Kong in the early-1990s when China was starting to open to foreign companies. In theory, China was extremely tempting given the large number of consumers. The reality, however, was that getting a foothold was a huge challenge.
When it comes to Facebook, many companies are jumping into Facebook Pages because, well, they want one. After all, everyone’s getting one, and no one wants to be left behind. But one of the biggest problems with Facebook Pages is the ease of getting one. A few clicks and you’re good to go.
Well, not really.
Creating a Facebook Page is the easiest move, which explains why there are so many of them. The challenge is the next steps – and I’m not talking about creating content and engaging with your fans…er, I mean “Likes” (Editor’s note: “Like” is downright goofy.)
The most important consideration with a Facebook Page is deciding what to do with it and the features it needs to have. While an out-of-the-box Facebook Page is fine if you want basic functionality, the real magic starts when a Facebook Page is customized. This mostly involves the creation of tabs that provide a Facebook Page with more ways for consumers to engage and use it. It could be e-commerce, contests, videos, activities or online services. The nice thing about a Facebook Page is the creation of tabs is up to your imagination.
So if you buy into the idea of custom tabs, the next decision is deciding what they are going to be and how they are going to meet the needs of your target audience. To make that happen, these tabs need to be developed using FBML, Facebook’s version of HTML. It takes planning and time to develop tabs so they do the job and engage users. As important, tabs should have a process that get people to do something – be it visit a Web site, make a purchase, enter a contest, “Like” or share with friends. They can’t simply be fluff with no upside for companies.
Now that you’ve created the tabs, the focus needs to move to content – contests, videos, photos, polls, update, links, etc. – that engage users and, as important, encourage them to come back on a regular basis. To make this happen efficiently, it is important to have an editorial calendar aligned with your marketing and sales activity. An editorial calendar offers structure so content doesn’t need to be created on the fly. While being flexible and engaged is a good thing, it also helps to have a plan of attack so content can happen on a sustained basis.
As well, a Facebook Page needs love and attention. It can’t be allowed to operate as silo-ed activity that is somehow able to support and promote itself. Too often, companies create a Facebook Page, and then expect the word to beat a path to its door. In reality, a Facebook Page is like any other marketing activity; it needs to be promoted in lots of other places – Web sites, marketing collateral, business cards, e-mail signatures, packaging, etc.
Finally, a Facebook Page needs to happen pretty much every day. It needs a person or a team to create content, engage with users, and promote it on daily basis. It’s a lot of work and not terribly sexy but it’s a key ingredient – along with customized tabs, an editorial calendar and marketing support – if a Facebook Page is going to be anything more than just another digital entity.