Facebook 101: Understanding When & How To Use Basic Features
A simple guide to getting started using Facebook for marketing your business, organization or events
Whenever I talk about Facebook at a conference, I am amazed at how many people come up afterwards and are still confused with the differences between profiles, pages, groups and the other types of entities on Facebook. Even more frequently, I see examples of corporations simply doing it wrong on Facebook and I would like to use this post to try and clear the air on these issues. This simple guide will break down the different objects on Facebook and a high level overview on how they can (or cannot) be used for marketing.
What Is A Facebook Profile?
The Facebook Profile is meant for one thing and one thing only: humans. Due to the communicative advantages that profiles have, many times companies will inadvertently set up their corporate presence as a Facebook Profile. Facebook does not allow for any profile to represent anything other than a real life person, so the equity built up with these incorrectly set up accounts can be taken away at any time if Facebook terminates the profile account. Facebook continues to grow the personal aspect of profiles and the recent profile change on December 5th continues to show Facebook’s dedication to “tell a story about yourself.”
How To Use A Facebook Profile For Marketing
With a Facebook profile, you represent your actual self rather than a corporation or other entity. For example if one were marketing this article on Facebook with a profile, rather than “Search Engine Land” recommending the page or sending a message, the communication might instead come from Danny Sullivan or another member of the Third Door Media staff.
Facebook profiles have a few marketing options that are unique to Facebook, all of which should be used on a limited basis, as many users tend to unfriend those friends that are too overbearing. One use that profiles allow for is to suggest a page to friends which will notify other profiles about a page. All messages that are sent in the current Facebook landscape technically come from a profile, which are the messages delivered into the Facebook inbox and are the strongest signal on Facebook today. In general, the profile should be used very sparingly as they represent an actual human , as in the words of Chris Winfield, be a damn human.
What Is A Facebook Page?
Facebook Pages are the number one vehicle for companies looking to market on Facebook, as Pages represent businesses, political communities, or charitable organizations or endeavors (including bands, celebs and personalities). These pages look similar to a profile at first glance, but are highly customizable and have analytics. A recent redesign of pages allows for posts created by pages to display into a fans news feed like any other profile which made pages much more attractive to marketers.
When Facebook first announced pages, many users created funny unofficial pages that didn’t adhere to the terms of service agreement for what a page was supposed to represent. To combat these pages, Facebook implemented something called “Community Pages” where people could set up fan pages as unauthorized managers, and the community eventually runs the page by their relevant posts and questions that create the content like this generic baseball page.
How To Use A Facebook Page For Marketing
Your entity’s Facebook page should be the main hub for all marketing on Facebook, as it is a staple reputation management tool as they are indexed and generally ranked well in search engines. Now that Facebook page posts are shown in the news stream of profiles, Facebook pages have truly become much like an RSS feed as users will consume your messages within a medium that is used regularly.
Posting interesting information that is valuable for your fans will not only help to build your relationship with your customers, but will also help to grow your audience base. Facebook page wall posts have been reported to have a CTR of 6.49% showing the power of this type of messaging. Use your posts to ask questions, take polls and get fans to interact with the page all while making sure you are still providing value for those who are subscribing to your messaging by liking your page.
Sometimes a page that you create that is too generic can be deemed a community page and taken away from your total control if Facebook sees fit. For example, say an organization such as a “Shelter for Battered Women” created a page that represents “Ending Violence Towards Women.” This is a general topic and really should not be a page that you are authorized to run.
If you are setting up a page that falls between the grey area of whether or not it should be a community page or an official, authorized page, make sure to brand the page with your company name and messaging; make it clear that it is an official page.
A better route to take when creating this page for ending violence would be to use a more specific title like “Help [CompanyName] End Violence Towards Women” and use content that highlights community efforts that are being putting forward, and heavily brand the page. These steps help Facebook realize that this is a specific community effort that you represent and strongly decrease the chance of your page being stripped away from you.
What Are Facebook Groups?
Recently revamped, the new Facebook groups allow like-minded users to communicate with each other. Groups can be public, closed (invite only) or hidden and only profile accounts can be included into a group. Groups operate much like pages, but the default settings allow users to be notified of new threads. In addition, group chats can be conducted and “docs” can be created.
How To Use A Facebook Group For Marketing
The marketing potential for Facebook groups is much lower than Facebook Pages but can be effective in specific scenarios. Since groups only allow for profiles to participate, the same issues arise with profiles in that any messaging must come from a person instead of a corporate entity. If you do choose to market in groups, the profile in question should be very upfront and disclose any motives and should be very clear of their intentions.
If you are a vendor that sells Detroit Lions themed gear, you could participate in a Detroit Lions Facebook Group and contribute to conversations while infrequently sharing links about funny new products that are relevant to the conversation. If no current group exists, create your own and work to actively cultivate it. If you sell tile and construction supplies, get creative and set up a Home Remodelers Group or a Handyman Community Group where you can suggest your products where applicable.
What Are Facebook Events?
Facebook events can be set up by a profile or a page and function much like a group in that users can communicate with each other in a specific location. Also like groups, Facebook events can be public, closed or private. Users can respond to an event by confirming, declining, or offering a “maybe” to the host.
How To Use A Facebook Event For Marketing
Events can be used much like a page for specific activities and are only open to profiles to attend, not other pages. The creators of events (only profiles, not pages) can communicate directly with the mini-community that has been invited, and images, videos and files can be shared.
One main feature that events have is that the creators of pages can send invitees messages directly into their inboxes, regardless if the invitee has responded to the event. The only way to opt out of these messages is to respond with a “not attending” response. Many users have abused this system over the years, but for legitimate marketers, this messaging can be extremely effective.
What Are Facebook Questions?
Facebook questions allow for users (profiles) to ask questions to other users. At this time, pages cannot answer questions. Facebook questions currently dominate internal Facebook search for branded queries and can gather a great deal of visibility on a topic.
How To Use A Facebook Question For Marketing
By actively searching for topics that relate to your company, you may be able to get an inside track on having your answer highlighted above other answers if others vote you up. If you participate in Facebook questions, make sure that you provide a helpful answer that may include your company, but also features alternative choices. Currently the questions are not indexed by search engines like Yahoo! Answers are, but that is a possibility in the future.
What Are Facebook Places?
The newest entity in Facebook, places allow for users to check into locations geographically and is mainly used on mobile devices. Places was primarily generated to compete with Foursquare, and the check-in service is quickly gaining popularity. Owners can claim places and merge with pages to help have a more integrated feel, AllFacebook has a great manual on using Facebook Pages for Business.
How To Use A Facebook Place For Marketing
Facebook places allow friends to share their location (and your business) among other friends, and can help boost your visibility. In addition, Facebook recently launched a self-serve “deals” that can be used for the following:
- individual deals for a discount
- free merchandise or other reward
- friend deals where you and your friends claim an offer together
- loyalty deals for being a frequent visitor to a place
- charity deals where businesses pledge to donate to a cause when you check in
AllFacebook again has a killer guide for using Facebook deals for businesses, and Facebook also have a video that further explains how to make a deal. Places are already making waves in Facebook and eventually, I believe that these places will play a huge part in local search as well, so build your presence up as soon as possible.
What Are Facebook Ads?
Facebook ads are demographically targeted text and image ads that can target users based on a variety of variables including likes, age, sex, schooling and much more. These ads can be CPM based or CPC based and traditionally have a low CTR, with reports showing an approximate CTR of 0.04%.
How To Use A Facebook Ad For Marketing
The process is very simple, it is advertisement or a paid placement of a message. In addition to normal text/image ads, interactive ads exist for pages and events. For ads that promote Facebook pages, users can like the page directly in the ad, and for those ads that are promoting events allow users to respond within the ad itself. Other than that, test out the targeting and start advertising.
Ads run for Facebook pages have interactive qualities that make it appealing for advertisers. An ad that is created specifically for a Facebook page allows marketers to offer a customized message and users can “like” the page directly from the ad.
This guide should clear up the various methods of social media marketing on Facebook and hopefully lay the groundwork for those who may be planning on starting to market on the social network. Sitting down and taking the time to plan out a marketing plan on Facebook will pay dividends. In addition, one of the main takeaways for each entity on Facebook would be to market tastefully, as it is a very different environment than any type of traditional marketing. So get out there and start marketing correctly on Facebook!
For more information on community pages, see the official Facebook Community Pages FAQ.
For more information on how pages work, see the official Facebook Page Manual.