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Are you thinking you really need to figure out this Facebook thing and get your business on there? Or have you dabbled in Facebook marketing a bit, have a double-digit of fans (most of them your friends from college) but still don’t quite know what to do?
If you’re still not sure about the dimensions of the cover photo (Cover photo? What cover photo?) or if the idea of setting up an app makes you sweat more than the recurring nightmares of forgetting your locker combination, then you’re in the right place.
This is the help-I-don’t-know-where-to-start guide to getting your social car out of park. Then you can get the super scoop about using Timeline for business and pick up a few pointers for engaging your audience.
But for now, let’s talk getting started. So what do you do first?
Get Your Page
If you’re brand new to Facebook for business, the first place to start is with a business page. You don’t actually create an account for your business page. Rather, you create a page through your personal account. So you must be logged into your own personal Facebook account before you can build a page.
To begin building a page, start here and choose a category.
Holy mackerel, would you look at all those choices! One might expect a bit of exposition about each of these page types considering many businesses can fall into more than one of these categories.
Alas, there is a dearth of useful information from Facebook on what to select here. The important thing to know about these categories is that the primary difference is in the type of information you can enter about your organization.
Here is a short breakdown.
Local Business or Place: you can enter your store hours, parking availability, address and price range along with basic info like web address, phone number and “About” info. If you want to list your store’s details, this is a good choice.
Company, Organization or Institution: you can enter product information, awards, your mission, founded date, address, description and web, contact and About info. If you don’t have a storefront or you’re an online business, this is a good choice.
Brand or Product: you can enter similar information as the company page but no address. The assumption here is that your products are sold through multiple vendors or retailers, like Apple or Dell. If you’re one of these guys, or you’re mass-distributing a product, go for it. Otherwise stick to Company.
Artist, Band or Public Figure: in addition to similar info as mentioned above, you can also include your birthday, bio, political affiliation (for public figures), influences (for bands) and other specific details depending on the subcategory you pick. This is a good choice if you’re looking to promote yourself personally rather than as a business.
Entertainment: you can enter a website and description but no contact info. This is a good choice if you’re promoting a book, movie or something similar.
Cause or Community: you can enter a bunch of personal info here, such as your educational information, employer, interests and contact info including web address and cell phone. This is a good choice for no apparent reason I can think of. Oddly, Non-Profit is listed under Company/Organization, as is Religious Group and most baffling of all, “Cause”. I’d check the other categories first before attempting this type of page.
The good news is that if this is all rather much, you can (sort of) change your mind later. After you create the page, you can go to Edit Page > Update Info and change the category. The bad news is that the categories here don’t match the initial selections one-to-one. For example, Artist/Band/Public Figure is not on the list but “People” is, and you can select “Band” from the subcategories.
Your best bet is to think about this for a moment and select your best choice. But don’t get so hung up that you stop. It’s not impossible to change later, it may just take a bit of exploring. Worst case scenario? You can delete the page entirely (before you get it going) and just try again.
Claim Your Name
Your page URL is going to start its life looking something like this:
That’s not sexy to say at a party. Ideally you want your URL to be your business, organization, book or band name. If you can’t get the exact name for length or other reasons, then aim for something printable, say-able and relevant to you.
Now, not to split hairs but there’s a difference between your actual page name and your page username. Your page name is what’s visible on your actual page itself, right under your Cover Photo on your Timeline. Your page username is what appears after facebook.com in the URL. That’s how your page appears in a browser address bar and how you print it on business cards and letterhead.
Clear as black ink, eh?
The important thing to know is that you can change your page name only up until you have 200 Likes. After that, you cannot change it, so make up your mind early!
When it comes to usernames (URLs) you can set it once and change it once. If you set a username and then change it, you cannot change it again.
Complete Your Info
Now that you’ve got all these empty information fields, start filling ’em in. Go to Edit Page > Update Info and that will take you to the Basic Information screen. Knock yourself out.
Memorize that edit button! It’s going to be your new best friend.
As you enter info, the important thing to know is that if you’re a brand, company or person, your “About” info is going to show up under your Cover Photo on your Timeline. If you’re a local biz, you’re going to see address, phone and hours.
Set Your Cover Photo And Profile Image
Your profile picture is the small-ish square the sits at the bottom left of the Cover Photo on your Timeline. It’s also the picture that appears beside your posts in other people’s newsfeeds. Since it ends up being a tiny icon in the newsfeed, you should consider this when you select a photo. Choose something with too many intricate details or that doesn’t compress well and it will be harder for people to recognize.
Generally a logo works well here for businesses.
You can set your profile picture in one of two ways.
Go to Edit Page > Update Info and select “Profile Picture” from the left side navigation. From here you can browse for a photo. There’s no Save function here so once you browse and select a photo, it’s a done deal.
You can also change your Profile photo from the Timeline itself. When you arrive there for the first time, a popup box will guide you to browse for a photo the same way. In the future, you can change your photo by going back to the edit page or simply by hovering over your photo until the “edit” button pops up.
A note about size: Although Facebook won’t tell you (unless you do it wrong), you cannot upload a photo less than 180 pixels wide. Given that the photo itself is sqare-ish, I suggest you upload a photo at 180 x 180 to reduce the likelihood that it will end up squished or cropped. If you upload a larger photo, Facebook will automatically downsize it but then you risk some nasty compression, so stick to 180 x 180 and you should be ok.
The Cover Photo gets added one way and that’s by clicking on the little “Add a Cover” icon on the Timeline itself.
There’s a boatload of restrictions about what you can’t put in the image so I’ll let you read those here.
The important thing to note here is that you should upload a photo that’s 851 pixels x 315 pixels. Talk about precise, right?
If you upload a smaller photo it will get stretched and look horrendous, so stick to those dimensions.
You might find that your photo looks horrendous anyway. What’s the deal with that?
Whatever fancy compression Facebook does on the back end can wreak havoc with some types of photos. Photos with large expanses of a single color fare the worst. Photos with some depth of color and texture do better.
Any time you want to change your cover photo, just hover over it on your timeline and you’ll get a “Change Cover” popup.
Once you’ve done this, you’re pretty much set as far as getting the basics in place!
Take A Gander Through Your Options
There are a few other settings to be aware of, all of which can be accessed by going to Edit Page > Update Info.
I’ll go through those briefly.
Your Settings: go here to check whether you want to be alerted when someone comments on, Likes or messages your page. Since we’re talking marketing here, I suggest you check one of these boxes!
Manage Permissions: these are fairly self-explanatory when you see them, but note that you can set whether or not people can post or add photos to your page, tag photos or message you. You can also add blacklisted words that should not be allowed on your Timeline. Finally, this is where you go to delete your page, but this is totally un-doable so be very sure you mean it!
Featured: lets you essentially Like another page as your page and show it on your Timeline. This may be a good option if you’re building reciprocal relationships with other businesses.
Resources: among other things, this is where you go if you want to set up an ad or get some marketing guidelines from Facebook.
Admin Roles: use this if you want to make someone else an admin on your page. There are various permission levels you can select to determine what that person can do. This lets you give someone else access to help you with your page without giving them access to your personal account.
Apps: lists the apps added to your page. Some are default apps, such as photos and events.
Mobile: this is where you can get your “upload email” so that you can send a photo and caption to your page directly via your phone. Given the number of “I was drunk and had no idea what button I pushed” mistakes that I’ve seen, you may want to stick to doing this while you’re at your desk.
Insights: all sorts of statistical goodness about interactions with your posts, demographics of your audience and reach. A post in itself! But good to check out early and often.
Help: exactly what it sounds like. More information than you’ll ever want to process.
Now, What About Those Apps?
In my experience there are three things that wake people up at night in a cold sweat: the prospect of losing their job, the threat of nuclear war and Facebook apps.
Can you get all fancy and complex with Facebook apps? Sure. You can spend lots of money on designing and programming custom apps. But you can also set up apps that are no more difficult than anything else we’ve just done, assuming you can dry your palms and stop them from slipping off the keyboard.
Just think of an app as another page, but instead of sitting there with posts and a status box, it does something else. What that thing is, is up to you.
On our Facebook page we have an app that lets people sign up for our email list. Some people use apps to display a special welcome video or tutorial. Maybe you want to pull your most recent blog posts into your app, or even set up a store right on Facebook.
Let’s start at the beginning and you’ll see how easy it can be.
For starters, your apps will appear in small rectangles – called tabs – below your cover photo. Up to 4 are visible at a time, but you can see more by clicking the small arrow to the far right of the last tab.
The Photo tab is always visible and it’s always the left-most tab. It shows the last photo you uploaded, so you may want to consider that as you begin to upload photos.
Visible tabs are called “Favorites” and once you have multiple apps, you can add any 3 additional apps to your favorites by clicking the + icon at the top of the app.
Since the default apps are certainly nothing to write home about, how do you add your own?
The simplest way is to start with a third-party service like Shortstack or Lujure. Although the exact how-tos of using one of these services is beyond the scope of this post, they’re pretty simple and straightforward. You can log in using your Facebook account and try them out for free. It’s pretty easy to drag-and-drop your way to a cool tab and if you’re just getting started, you can tinker around, mess up, delete it and try again without anyone being the wiser!
An important thing to note about tabs: most apps have some sort of default photo that will appear in your tab on your Timeline. But those are sort of ugly, certainly not branded to you and probably won’t invite people to click.
Once you’ve added an app, click on that little arrow to expand them again, and then when you hover over one you’ll get a little pencil icon that means you can edit it. Click the pencil and you’ll get more editing goodness.
A couple of things you can do:
Swap position with: this lets you rearrange the order of your tabs and will come in handy when you have more than 4 apps and you want to show some and hide others.
Remove from favorites: takes it off your tabs but does not delete the app.
Edit settings: the goldmine! This is where you go to change the default image and the name that appears under the tab. Use this wisely – make sure both the image and text invite people to click. The size of the image you upload for your tabs should be 111 pixels x 74 pixels. Yup, more exactness.
Link to this tab: if you want to send people directly to an app, perhaps a storefront, video or special message you can get a direct URL here.
How About That Blank Page, Eh?
Now that you’ve set up your Facebook page, all that empty space will be staring at you along with the one fan your page has – you.
So yes, it’s time to get out there and start marketing, winning fans and influencing people. That’s a whole other topic, but the good news is that you’re starting rock-solid and you don’t look like some befuddled newbie tinkering around on a computer and just hoping something clicks.
But before you get to the juicy heart of marketing, there’s one more thing you can do to pimp out your page a bit and look a little more legit than just a big empty space.
At the top of your status box, there is an option to add Events and Milestones. I suggest you throw a few Milestones in there. A milestone can be the date you made your first dollar, landed your first big gig or released your first book. The nice thing is that you can date it with the year, month and day it happened, so it begins to fill out the story of your organization. Add a little exposition and don’t overlook the photo. Remember, this is a visual medium and people like the pretty, shiny things.
No need to go overboard but if you can create a bit of backstory for your organization with milestones, dates and photos, it will be a much more compelling experience when you finally do invite people to Like your page.
One last tip: milestone photos display full-width at 843 x 403 so if you size your photos properly you’ll take advantage of the full space without any funky cropping or compression.
Two Quick Things To Know
Thing 1: I mention this because I’ve seen it happen a lot. You want a page, you create one. You mess around with it a bit. Maybe you create another page and mess around with that one. You’re not really sure what you’re doing but you’re adding Likes and posting some stuff… in multiple places. Quite possibly you’re also accumulating friends on your personal page and doing a bit of marketing there.
But here’s the problem:
you cannot “transfer” friends or Likes and you cannot combine pages.
Update: 9/24: There is a very limited set of circumstances under which you can merge pages. Thanks to my friend Mayura for pointing out this nuance. According to Facebook, you can merge two pages if they’re about a similar thing, in which case your less popular page will be merged into the more popular page (by number of Likes) and all of the content, photos and other information on the merged page will be deleted. I haven’t been able to do this in practice, perhaps because the pages were not deemed similar enough by Facebook. You can read the guidelines here.
Your best bet is to set up a single page, perhaps even set it to “unpublished” (under “Manage Permissions” on your Update Info page) and get your ducks in a row before telling the world or even your Great Uncle Ike.
The last thing you want to do is manage multiple pages for the same business. The next-to-last thing you want to do is go begging everyone who likes one page to like another now that you’ve made up your mind which one is “for real”.
Thing 2: If you’re wondering, “Do I need a business page or can I simply use my personal page to market?” the answer is, “You absolutely 100% need a business page.” That is, if you’re marketing a business. Like a lot of small business people, there may be crossover between business and personal. A number of my friends are also my clients, but I do not market on my personal page. I’m personal!
It may be a bit more challenging to get those Likes than to simply send a friend request but it’s also a ton more professional.
If you’re not convinced, consider the fact that you can’t use apps on your personal page, nor can you have more than 5,000 friends. That may seem like a big number now, but when your business takes off, you don’t want to be limited by an arbitrary number.
Everything I just told you is true as of… right… now. In five minutes it may not be. Facebook has a reputation for changing things often and unexpectedly. I know of at least one other Facebook post on this blog that puts the profile photo dimensions at 150 x 150 instead of 180 x 180 because at that time, those were the dimensions. If I had to go back and update every Facebook post I’d have to turn it into its own mini-business.
Just remember that things change. If something doesn’t work, stops working or looks kind of… wrong… it’s quite possible that something has changed again. No sweat. There’s bound to be someone out there writing about this stuff!
And You’re Off!
With a good setup you’re ready to start Facebook marketing. We’ll get into more of the nitty-gritty of that next time, but for now you can create a page worry-free or dig into yours and start sprucing it up from the ground up.
On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being “holy crap I still have no idea what to do” and 10 being “I already set up my page as I was reading this”, how confident do you feel that you can get started – or restarted?
If you have any nagging questions or if anything here didn’t quite add up, let me know!