Let’s cut to the chase. Social networking and blogging continue to increasingly dominate the amount of time we spend online, while e-mail usage declines. Facebook recently passed the 500 million user milestone with its average active user spending nearly an hour on the site per day.
If you’re a business or organization, that includes farms, that’s one hour less that web users are spending on your site. To be relevant in the rapidly changing landscape of the web, you gotta go where the people are. This means you should stop asking if you should participate in social media, and start thinking about the best ways to get involved.
For many, this means (at the very least) setting up a Facebook business page. With Facebook for business still being a relatively new concept to many users, there is often confusion when it comes to getting started. And, as an agricultural professional working to get more farmers and organizations involved in social media, is often a source of frustration I feel when receiving a “Friend Request” from a business.
It is important to remember that a Facebook business page is NOT a personal profile. Many businesses/organizations unknowingly (and some intentionally) go about setting up their page as a personal account, missing out on many of the advantages an official business page provides. Not to mention, multiple personal profiles for one person are against Facebook’s Terms of Service.
Advantages of an Official Business Page
Setting up an official business page provides your organization a much better set of tools, insights and acceptance to the general Facebook public than a personal profile.
- While strongly resembling a personal profile, an official business page doesn’t require an approved friendship for Facebook users to be able to receive its content in their News Feed. All a user has to do is “Like” your page one time to automatically receive your content.
- Many users are turned off by a business trying to “friend” them from a personal profile. An official business page gives you the benefit of users becoming fans without concern that your business will be looking at their photos, commenting on their status updates and accessing their e-mails and telephone numbers for marketing purposes. Reluctantly, I have often had to ignore a friend request from more than a few organizations because I do not wish to provide them access to that much of my information.
- Facebook provides business page administrators with “Insights” and weekly stats sent directly to your email, keeping you abreast of the performance of your page and engagement level of its fans.
- By clicking “Edit Page” on your business page, you’ll also be able to adjust various settings and add on interactive applications. You can also add multiple administrators for your page to post official status updates and help manage the page.
- Unlike a personal profile, an official Business Page is available to anyone on the Internet, whether they have a Facebook account or not.
Secure your Official Business Page
- Go to http://www.facebook.com/pages/and click on “Create Page”
- You may choose to set up an official page for:
- A local business like your farm
- Brand, product or organization
- Artist, band or public figure
- Drop down menus with your chosen option further specifies your page’s niche.
- Enter the name you’d like to use for your page, then click the box verifying you are an official representative of the business or organization. Then click create official page.
- You’ll then be taken to the page you have created. It is pretty much a blank slate at this point that you will fill with information and posts. Facebook will provide key steps that will help you get started, such as adding a profile image, basic information, status updates, and ways to promote your page on your website.
- From this point on, anytime you wish to access your official business page, all you have to do is search for it by name in the search box at the top of the Facebook Page.
- Facebook allows users to be administrators of multiple pages. Revisit each step above to set up subsequent pages.
- Upon attaining 25 fans, be sure to give your page a custom URL at www.facebook.com/username. This will allow more opportunity to promote it by sending users to www.facebook.com/yourcustomname.
These are just the basics to get you started. There are many, many more options an official Facebook business page provides you. Want to share your tips for businesses on Facebook? Add them to the comments below.
Dan Toland is communications specialist with the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and author of “Discovering Your Social Web: An Ohio Farm Bureau Guide to Social Media.” He will be sharing more tips and insight on using Facebook to agvocate during AgChat’s Agvocacy 2.0 Training Conference Aug. 30-31. Follow him on Twitter @d_toland and @OhioFarmBureau.