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Getting your head around Facebook – where to start/should you start?

Saturday, January 10, 2009
Grant Whiteside

One of the biggest criticisms of Facebook has been its inability to generate revenue and turn a profit. This is an ongoing challenge for the company as a whole, but that does not mean that marketers shouldn’t use Facebook as an excellent tool to reach target markets, expand market potential and incorporate Facebook into overall marketing activities. It is fast, effective and relatively cheap. With the right direction and consistent content updates, this could be a useful weapon in your business marketing arsenal in the next year!

In late 2007, Facebook launched a service that allowed businesses to better engage with their customers and brand advocates. The three-tiered product provided a platform for businesses to upload all manner of content, delivered a way of raising awareness of its existence and a mechanism to measure the impact. These services are called Fan Pages, Social Ads and Facebook Insights respectively.  This activity really marked the maturing of Facebook from merely a website that was all about getting in touch with friends and family, to a vehicle for companies to interact with their customers on a more personal level.  It became an environment  that can provide professional, business driven content for people to engage with.

Recently, Facebook further boosted the functionalities of these services making them even more attractive marketing and communication tools. But before you dive into the Facebook toolbox, it is important to fully understand the environment into which you are stepping and how to maximise the potential it holds.

Let’s start with the basics. What are Fan Pages?

Simply put, Fan Pages are branded pages where companies can post videos, images, news and announcements for their fans.  A Fan page is a place where companies can interact with their customers, gather opinion, provide unique offers and engage in discussion. An example of a particularly successful fan page is the Coca Cola fan page, which was originally started by two regular guys who quite simply just loved the product.  The Fan page eventually became the most successful Fan page on Facebook. As the page grew in popularity, Coca Cola had a choice to make; take over the page or allow the fans to retain control. Coca Cola chose the former and flew the pair who started it all to their Head Office in Atlanta and encouraged them to create a video about how the page was started and its subsequent success. This is great example of how companies should engage with social media – create brand evangelists, empowering them to engage with their favourite products.

Facebook Page


What about Promotion?  It’s not always enough to create a Fan page and hope that it will attract simply visitors by osmosis. Some effort needs to be made to support and promote the page. That’s where Social Ads come in. These are ads that are served by brand owners which appear either within a user’s news feed as sponsored content or down the right hand side of the page. The ads that appear are dependent on the content and preferences of the users; this enables a greater level of targeting based on relevance. Note that ads are served on a cost per click basis.

So the page is ready and the ads are up…now what?  In order to measure and monitor the success of your Fan page, Facebook offers “Insights”. This free analytics tool allows you to monitor the performance of your ads and pages in terms of actions, behaviour and exposure.

Initial comments on the Insights tools were not entirely favourable. Users felt that the information did not offer enough depth, nor was the reporting particularly intuitive. In May 2009, Facebook added new features that would give administrators a deeper level of information with which to optimise their pages and social ads.

Additional functionality now allows you to:

Monitor interactions: Wall contributions, comments and rating your content

Measure Post Quality: The quality score of your posts can be improved if you post content relevant to your fans such as videos, images and engaging posts.

View Fan Interaction Graphs: These are graphs that show how fans are interacting with your content in terms of the following:

  • Interactions
  • Interactions Per Post
  • Post Quality
  • Posts
  • Page Views
  • Click Through Rate
  • Engagement Rate
  • Media Consumption
  • Discussion Posts
  • Reviews

View Fan Dashboard Graphs:

  • Total Fans
  • Unsubscribers
  • New Fans
  • Removed Fans
  • Unsubscribes
  • Re-Subscribes

Review Demographic and Geographic Data: Information on geographic and demographic information will only be displayed for fan pages with significant fan numbers for security reasons.

So, there are the basic tools for getting started with Facebook Fan pages. Now what?

Before you jump in to create your Fan page, there are some things you need to consider.

1.       The size of your business – Is your product or service likely to attract many fans?

2.       Demographic selection – Are there aspects of your business that are more appropriate to social media than others? Do some products fit Facebook’s key demographic better than others? (Rather than promoting a whole website, you might choose a specific product range).

3.       Resources and Time – Social Media in its many forms can only be effective if you keep at it; if you continuously create fresh and engaging content, offer your fans something special and make them keen to support your brand.

Once you’ve considered the above, ask yourself, can you create strong content on an ongoing basis, devote the necessary resources and appeal to the right fan base on Facebook?

If the answer is yes, then Facebook has the tools available to get you started.

Grant Whiteside
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