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By Elizabeth H. Cottrell

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There was a time – not so very long ago – when the use of Facebook, or similar social networking sites, was for personal use only. Any attempt to promote a product or service in the forums or posting areas was considered taboo and resulted in flaming or ostracizing or sometimes even termination of membership.

As private users with businesses began to see the power of Facebook networking to boost their business, there was pressure on Facebook to create appropriate ways to do this without infringing on the individual community that was the main attraction of Facebook from the beginning. One result is “Facebook Pages.” Here’s what Facebook itself has to say about why they created Facebook Pages:

“Facebook created Pages when we noticed that people were trying to connect with brands and famous artists in ways that didn’t quite work on Facebook. We created Pages to offer you a way to accurately represent on Facebook what’s important to you in real life. Facebook Pages help you discover new artists, businesses, and brands as well as connect with those you already love. Not only can you connect with your favorite artists and businesses, but now you also can show your friends what you care about and recommend by adding Pages to your personal profile.”

A business, organization, musical artist, or brand can create Facebook Pages to share information, interact with their customers/fans, and create a highly engaging presence plugged into Facebook’s social graph.

These Pages are distinct presences, separate from users’ profiles, and optimized for these presences’ needs to communicate, distribute information/content, engage their customers/fans, and capture new audiences virally through their customers’/fans’ recommendations to their friends.

Facebook Pages are designed to be a media rich, valuable presence solution for any artist, business, or brand that can be integrated seamlessly into the user experience with socially-relevant applications.

It’s easy and free to start a Facebook Page. Note that you don’t have to have a personal Facebook profile first, but if you do, this can be your portal to your Facebook Pages. If you DO already have a Facebook account, do NOT create another one – it violates Facebook rules to have more than one account. From one account, however, you can have an unlimited number of Facebook Pages. One blogger said he had trouble accessing all the menu features using Firefox, so you might want to do this with Internet Explorer.

Here are the simple steps:

1. Go to the sign-up page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php

2. Choose an appropriate category is for your business. This can’t be changed later (if you want to change it, you have to delete that page and start another one), so take the time to choose wisely. Play with the drop-down lists to see the variety of options. Note that you can make a Facebook Page for a single product and there is no limit to the number of Facebook pages you can set up.

3. Type in your business or product or brand name and click “Create Page.”

4. Enter a short description of your business and a Website URL in the “Add Information To This Page” area. If possible, upload your logo as a photo/image.

5. Click on the hyperlink for your business name in the top left corner and click “publish this page.” This step is necessary so that others can see your business profile.

Blogger Dharmesh Shah recommends one more very important step: from your new profile page, click “Add to my products” so that you become the first “fan” of your own business. From this, your other “friends” on Facebook will see something on their site like “Sally Smith is a fan of your business name.” If any of your friends decide to become a friend to your business, then THEIR friends will see a similar message and the “good virus” begins to spread the word about your business, name or brand.

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SOURCES

Facebook Pages

Facebook Pages Frequently Asked Questions

Owyang, Jeremiah. “Testing Facebook Pages and $20 worth of SocialAds.”

Shah, Dharmesh. “Now, Any Business Can Tap 53 Million Facebook Users (For Free).” HubSpot Blog, November 12, 2007.

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© 2008 Elizabeth H. Cottrell. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Elizabeth H. Cottrell is a home-based entrepreneur, freelance technical writer, and owner of Riverwood Technologies, a desktop publishing company in Maurertown, Virginia. She is currently a staff writer and editor for IAHBE.