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Ask an Expert: Facebook Basics for Your Business

Steve Strauss, USA TODAY
Tuesday, 13 Dec 2011 | 1:08 PM ET

Today, Facebook is verging on one billion users; about 1/7th of the planet. A million users isn't cool. Know what's cool? A billion users. Something that gets that much bandwidth and that is growing that fast deserves your attention. Your business has to remain in front of people; it needs to be where the eyeballs are, and if that is Facebook, then so be it.

Roslan Rahman | AFP | Getty Images

In all likelihood (if you are like 1/7th of the planet) you have a personal Facebook page. But creating a Facebook Fan page for your business is a bit different than creating your own personal account. (Note: In 2010, Facebook replaced its "Become a Fan" button with the "Like" button. Even so, business pages are still unofficially called Fan pages.)

Here is how you do it:

1. Secure your user name. The first thing to do is to capture what is known as your Facebook vanity URL (or username), that is, www.Facebook.com/[YourBusinessName]. You do that by registering your page, setting it up, and getting 25 people to "like" it.

Once you do that, Facebook allows the vanity URL to be established. Be sure that the name you pick for your vanity URL is either your business name, a name associated with your business, or something closely related to your brand as your Fan page becomes a de-facto website for your business.

Another difference is that whereas an individual can have a maximum of 5,000 friends on Facebook, no such limit exists for the number of people who can like your Fan page.

2. Create your page. Facebook will first ask what sort of business you have. After that, you click over to the Facebook page template where you will begin to customize the page. Add in all relevant data:

• Company description
• Business bio and background
• E-mail and website
• Photos and products

Once the basics are out of the way, then the fun (and work) begins: you need to create a fun, interesting, interactive page that is full of articles, coupons, contests, and other valuable content. Facebook actually makes this process fairly easy as you can add apps and tabs for all sorts of these things.

• Here are a few you might want to check out:
• YouTube: Allows your visitors to watch your YouTube videos on your Facebook page
• Promotions: This app makes it easy to create contests and promotions
• Social RSS: Allows you to add the content from your other online properties (like your blog) to your Facebook page
• Polls: Allows you to, well, post a poll
• Twitter: Makes it easy to find and follow your tweeting Facebook friends
• SlideShare: Allows you to share presentations
• My Flickr: Displays photos from your Flickr account
• Upcoming: Allows you to post upcoming events.

3. Grow. Once your page is up and running and your vanity URL is established, it is time to get more people to notice your page. You first do that by telling your extended network about the page and getting them to like it.

After that, it is really a matter of engaging with your customers and extended audience. The trick is to consistently update your status and add valuable content to your page. Share tips and ideas, mention specials, post articles and video, and promote events.

Do that and you will have a page that people like — in more ways than one.

Today's tip: Not long ago, Facebook launched a new page called Facebook for Business (Facebook.com/Business), which offers step-by-step tutorials on how to use all of Facebook's various marketing features, including how to create a Fan page.

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