Facebook encourages marketers to have a “business” page, also known as a “fan” page (which is different than a regular Facebook profile – create one here). While there are great marketing benefits in having this kind of presence on Facebook, there unfortunately are some limits versus having a normal profile or even a group page. We definitely recommend having a Facebook page and working it properly by creating consistent engaging content will significantly enhance your business, just so you know what you can and can’t do, here’s a list of some basic pros and cons:
Tabs – Facebook pages give you the ability to add and customize tabs, which are like extra pages or menu items. These tabs take basic html, so they are extremely flexible, just as almost any general page on the web. This is very useful if you want to provide information that doesn’t necessarily fit within the default Facebook functions/media. For example, you can have forms, links to your latest products/downloads, videos, banners, etc. These tabs also allow you to also create optimized landing tabs that you can design solely for conversion of a certain promotion. For example, “Click here for you’re your chance to win a free ipod!” Here’s an article on how to add custom tabs to your Facebook page.
Apps – There are some cool apps available only to Facebook pages, such as e-commerce apps that allow you to sell on Facebook, Youtube apps to display videos, “Bandpage” apps for musicians to display their music, etc. You can even hire developers to create completely custom applications for your company. Unfortunately, Facebook has closed the app directory, so you will need to search for any existing apps. One wayto find existing apps that might be great for your page is to go to pages similar to yours and see what apps they are using.
Search Engine Optimization – Facebook pages have great SEO, so even if you end up doing nothing with your page, it’s still a good idea just to have that presence. When creating a Facebook page, make sure to fill in all pertinent information – give it a good Title, About Us, basic info, local info and addresses, etc. Make everything as keyword-rich as possible because this is what will be read by Google and may index above even your website. Also, even when searching within Facebook, it’s a lot easier to find your needle in a smaller haystack of businesses than it is to find it in 750 million profiles.
Inbound Fans Only – While I list this as a con later, what you have here by default, is the members of your page are only quality leads. In outbound marketing, cold prospects may or may not be someone interested. Example, in Myspace, business pages had the luxury of sending friend requests. However, you’d find that members would just except them, either without thinking or just for the sake of increasing their friend count. This is opposed to now your members who had to consciously subscribe to you. Members like this will more likely have open ears to what you have to say.
Ads – Facebook’s ads system is such a robust system because of its precision targeting. Profiles not only filling out their interest, but choosing already existing pages allows Facebook to pool everyone together based on interest, resulting in highly targeted, quality segments. With a page, you now have access to the most targeted market there is for your business – members of your page! Who else would want to purchase your product more than those who consciously joined your page because they were interested in you?
Aside from this, you may one day need to reach another market through Facebook ads. For example, you may be a musician similar to Justin Bieber and you’d like to market your music to his millions of fans. You can now target that pool of prospects and combine it with other similar pools to create significantly large, targeted audience that is likely to be interested in your page or product.
Sponsored Story’s – Someone says something good about your page – here is the key to viral and social marketing, the power and trust of word-of-mouth. Now, having a page allows you to extend that reach further – you can pay for “sponsored stories”, similar to an ad, you can increase the reach of that word-of-mouth and give it more weight to those that may not have necessarily seen or paid attention to the glowing review.
Insight – A huge benefit for having a Facebook page is Facebook’s built in analytics system that measures engagement to your page. You’ll be able to track, for example, how many likes you get a day. What posts are the most engaging? Has your engagement dropped from last month? Did a campaign increase engagement? By how much? Facebook’s API allows access to their data and can be used for different types of analytics integration, including Google Analytics Social Engagement measurement. Though the system can be improved (there are limits on what you can segment. Also, the definition of metrics like “likes” are too ambiguous – do you mean I got 10 likes to posts today or 10 likes to my page?), this is great for a general idea of what activity is happening on your page.
Cons (Limits of Fan Pages)
Inbound Fans Only?! While this is great from a consumer’s perspective – limiting spam requests – for marketers, it’s …well … limiting. Your market has to come to you. Similar to the “Opt In” vs. “Opt Out” email subscription discussion, while “Opt In” will get you more qualified leads and less unsubscribes, it also means you have to be a lot more creative in enticing prospects to sign up. You have a similar challenge here – businesses now have to come up with engaging content and promotions to make it of value for users to “Like” their page. While this has its benefits, it doesn’t make life any easier for increasing your membership.
Wall Updates don’t reach all your fans. With Facebook’s new EdgeRank algorithm, only posts relevant to users will appear in their feed (based on how often they interact with you page, how much engagement your posts get, etc.). It becomes the chicken-and-egg – no one will see your post if it’s not attention worthy, but then how can it get attention if no one sees it?! If your page is new or took a break for a little while, and people stopped visiting, your 1000+ fans you worked so hard to acquire may not even see any of your wall updates.
“Updates” page don’t trigger a “red” notification. There is a way to send notification-type messages called “updates” via your page. However, these do not trigger an update like regular Facebook inbox messages do. The fall into an “others” bucket, and may not be read right away, or if you’re like me, I don’t even read the “others” bucket at all. While this was meant to reduce spam interaction by putting all the “business” type messages in one bucket, I would even argue that this is more detrimental to consumers. They willingly wanted to get updates from these pages, and because of this, they may miss things they were interested in.
Unable to invite members to an event. While you can create an event under your page, you are unable to send invites to members of the page (though you can send invites to friends of your profile to that event). That means it will not show up in your members’ profiles under events (unless they willingly make the effort to find your event and attend). Thus, if your guests aren’t engaged with your page, very few may notice the event.
Unable to message event guests. If you do manage to get guests to your event, if the event was created under your page, the “Message Guests” feature will not be an available function. Instead, “Update Fans of Your page” is available, which means you can send a non-notification updates about your event, but to all your page members, not event guests.
While having consistently engaging content on your page is the standard way to engage your members and will eventually increase your membership, sometimes, you need a boost! The limits on Facebook page functions sometimes hinder this. In our next post, we’ll go through some “guerilla” viral tactics that use functions (events and messaging) that are available to your profile, your friends’ profiles, and your page, to maximize notification and engagement.