Facebook fan pages are like anything else on the Internet: easy to do fast and dirty, and more complicated and time-consuming to do right. Whether you're making the page as a true fan or creating a community for fans of a brand you represent, the steps are the same. And even if you're acting as a fan, you can still take your tips and inspiration from the top marketers to make your page the best.
First, you need to find your way to a page creation space on Facebook -- either by using Facebook's "create a page" tool or the link at the bottom of somebody else's fan page -- and then select what kind of page you're making. Sign in that you're authorized to make the page (if you're officially representing the brand), and that you agree to Facebook's policies.
The basic categories are: Local Business/Place, Company/Organization/Institution, Brand/Product, Artist/Band/Celebrity, Entertainment and Cause/Community. These are only necessary for the templates that follow -- you'll probably know which of these you need. (Before automatically choosing Artist/Band/Celebrity, check out the options for Entertainment, because there's a bit more variety, and it could suit your needs better.)
You enter your basic information, depending on the type of page you're making: name and Web site, hours and addresses for a business, contact information and more.
Next, you need an image. Remember that whatever you choose needs to represent your brand -- and we're using "brand" here inclusively, whether you're talking about an actor or a detergent -- and should be a recognizable image that also scales easily to that tiny square you see next to people's comments on your wall. You might need to play around with the size and centering of the image to get it just right.
Next up, we'll look at some of the things that can help your page stand out.
Tips for Making a Good Fan Page on Facebook
Each and every area on your fan page is an opportunity to be funny, creative, smart or interesting. Select "favorites" for your page that will resonate with fans, describe your project in a clever way, and think outside the box. Use the five-picture photostrip at the top of your page in a genius way -- tell a story, spread one image across the strip, or represent five different states of your project, for example -- and you'll gain fans on sight that had never even heard of you beforehand.
We'll talk in a bit about updating your fan page with posts and content, but you should think about pictures and videos as well, even at this stage. For a business, this can be as simple as including photos of a new product or a successful event. Bands should offer backstage and candid photos of the artists. Other creative types can get a lot of mileage out of convention appearances or other interactions with fans. Basically, include anything that makes members of the community feel that they're connecting to you and your brand in a way that makes the relationship worthwhile.
For example, if you're a design or advertising company, obviously you'll want to break up a never-ending stream of logos and product designs with more human elements, photographs of personnel, and visuals and videos of similar content by other designers you admire. The point of starting a Facebook fan page is to reach out and touch somebody: No matter how amazing your four-color branding exercises are, without offering fans a chance to know the human team behind them, you might as well just be showing a corporate portfolio.
If you're a Facebook user, you know how annoying it can be when a business or community posts constantly on your wall about things that don't matter. Of course, if you're trying to advertise your site or fan page, that comes with the territory -- just remember that you can annoy fans away with too much content noise. After all, it's as simple as clicking that "like" button one more time, and you've lost their eyeballs.
What are some good ways to draw attention to your page? Read on to find out.
Publicizing Your Page
Once your fan page goes live, it's up to you to get your page out there. Everyone involved in the project should share the news with their friends immediately (or at least those who would be interested), and you can go looking for fans and fan pages of similar projects -- as long as you're confident your approach won't look like spam.
And don't forget to take advantage of events: Any chance you have to get an RSVP from a fan, take it. The numbers don't really matter, but the connection is important. Even if it's not really a physical event, simply by casting your new album's release or the move to a new office building as an event creates excitement and the option of attending, even if it's just in spirit.
Of course, the Facebook overlords will eventually do a lot of the work here for you, as their algorithms connect you to similar brands in your category: If all of your fans also like another band, Facebook will eventually mention your page to them, and they'll have the option of visiting your page. You can also take this reciprocal idea into your own hands, and approach other bands to mention your page, or your events, on their own.
Offsite, of course, it's important to make sure your Web presence is represented everywhere it can be. If you have a YouTube channel; a Twitter, Google+ or Reader account; a Web site or a portfolio, you'll want to make sure your "like" button or fan page is easily accessible from each of those places. And likewise, providing links to all those networks and sites on your fan page is a great way to integrate all these different streams into a sensible Web presence. Facebook users hit that "like" button like they're collecting Pokemon cards, so they'll remember to check your offerings later. The easier you make it for them, the more likely they'll see and remember you in their news feeds.
Once your page is up and running, maintenance is important. Get some tips on the next page!
Tips for Maintaining a Great Facebook Fan Page
Remember that every social account you open represents a certain amount of ongoing effort, so if it's likely you're going to give up on a given account, don't bother opening it. Nothing spells certain death for a prospective fan like a page that hasn't been updated in a year.
It's also important to remember the individual demands of each network. You can't just put the same content out in every stream, because you're creating different relationships with different fan groups. Even though many networks are quickly learning to combine and work with each other, the fact is that every social network is designed for a different purpose. Learning to use Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr wisely means using them each for their specific purpose. If you simply post the same information, jokes or content to every stream available, you're running the huge risk that an annoyed fan will cut you out of the equation on at least one network, if not more.
So, you've created and publicized the page, and now your Facebook popularity is blowing up. On the one hand, it's exciting and comforting to see your number of friends growing each day. But on the other hand, your work has only just begun. That was the easy part.
Now you have to tend that garden. Start conversations, ask questions, elicit feedback about your project or your page, update with photos and videos (not only of your brand and team, but of other stuff your team enjoys), reach out to fans whenever possible, invent contests or just-for-fun hashtag games related to your brand category, upload and tag pictures from events, reciprocate other users' kind mentions of your brand, and watch out for PR opportunities (and nightmares).
Have you run into a problem with your page? Read on for some troubleshooting tips and hints.
Trouble Spots, Site Updates and Hints
The way our news feeds operate now means that you need to keep up a fairly constant stream of interaction with your fans in order to show up in their feeds at all. All it takes is a post or two that your fan "likes," and you'll stay on their radar, but unless they change their default settings, it's possible they won't even see most of your updates.
You need to keep this in mind, as it changes the way your fans interact with the brand -- and don't take it too hard. The policy of hiding certain pages and updates was enacted to keep users from being overrun by companies and spam, because that's how MySpace faded away. Think of it this way: Facebook isn't about sales, it's about entertainment. So just stay entertaining!
So, though it may go without saying, take it easy on the sales, merchandising and other requests for money. Announcing that a new single is dropping is one thing, but begging for money is not what this is about. You've seen corporate pages begging for cash, offering coupons and special orders, with a million clickable links going who-knows-where, and you know how it makes you feel. Don't be that guy.
If anything, your fan page should be a place where you offer fans free content. Downloads, live tracks, high-resolution images or product samples are all free offers that will keep your fan page on your fans' minds, which means more eyeballs for the next phase of your work.
One strategy here that many brands use is the "like gate," which is just what it sounds like: "Like" the fan page, and you'll get free content. They're easy to set up, you probably already have the content ready to go, and fans love it. "Like gates" get to the heart of the reciprocal relationship that Facebook fan pages are designed to use: Just for showing a little love, fans get something new, fun and exclusive.
Next up, learn how to manage your community of fans.
Your Facebook Fan Community
Any community discussion opens your business up to trolls, fan fights, crazies and every other obnoxious behavior you find on the Internet. The only difference between your fan page and some forum where you might find yourself or your brand discussed? This is your turf. You're responsible for the hurt feelings, the weird fights and all the rest of the regrettable behavior that anonymity and passion can sometimes invoke.
By paying attention to the threads and posts on your page -- even though it can be an intimidating task -- you can get to know your fans and make sure any damage is limited. It's up to you to take possession of your page and the way your fans act, and it's definitely implied when you undertake a project like this.
Beyond providing ongoing content, watching out for trouble spots among the fans and remembering not to repeat yourself too often, you can also look at improving the experience directly. Some major corporations and artists have a whole multimedia dog-and-pony show they've paid somebody a great deal to develop -- but there's nothing stopping you from looking into their work for inspiration about other ways to make your fan page pop.
Apps like ReverbNation and BandPage, for bands, can add a lot of glitz and functionality to your page. Explore ways of integrating applications and other gadgets into your page to simplify life or brighten the look, but always remember that a fan page exists primarily to keep people involved in your brand and your work, and to allow you to show your gratitude for their interest in your work.
Lots of companies and artists talk a good game about loving the fans, but your Facebook fan page is a simple-to-use, instant-feedback, delightfully intimate way to thank your fans directly.
Want to learn more about Facebook? Check out the links on the next page.
- 35 Of The Best Facebook Fan Pages (A Fun & Inspiring Reference Resource) (July 18, 2011) http://web.appstorm.net/roundups/social-media-roundups/35-of-the-best-facebook-fan-pages
- Bamieh, M. "5 Great Facebook Fan Pages That Truly Get It." Thoughtpick.com. March 2011. (July 18, 2011) http://blog.thoughtpick.com/2011/03/5-great-facebook-fan-pages-that-truly-get-it.html
- Create A Page (Page-Builder On Facebook) (July 18, 2011) http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php
- Ehrlich, Brenna. "10 Best Practices for Bands on Facebook." Mashable. July 2011. (July 18, 2011) http://mashable.com/2011/07/11/bands-facebook
- Green, Callan. "Killer Facebook Fan Pages: 5 Inspiring Case Studies." Mashable. June 2009. (July 18, 2011) http://mashable.com/2009/06/16/killer-facebook-fan-pages
- ibid. "10 Top Facebook Pages and Why They're Successful." Social Media Examiner. August 2010. (July 18, 2011) http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/top-10-facebook-pages
- ibid. "New Changes to Facebook Fan Pages." Don't Drink The Kool-Aid. December 2009. (July 18, 2011) http://www.dontdrinkthekoolaidblog.com/new-changes-to-facebook-fan-pages
- Ostrow, Adam. "You Might Not Love the New Facebook, But Brands Should." Mashable. March 2009. (July 18, 2011) http://mashable.com/2009/03/19/new-facebook-brands
- Paola, Callan. "How To Build A Facebook Fan Page." Don't Drink The Kool-Aid. May 2009. (July 18, 2011) http://www.dontdrinkthekoolaidblog.com/how-to-build-a-facebook-fan-page
- Porterfield, Amy. "How to Create a Facebook Fan Page Editorial Guide." Social Media Examiner. April 2010. (July 18, 2011) http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-create-a-facebook-fan-page-editorial-guide
- Vreeland, Eric. "20 Examples of Great Facebook Pages." Hubspot Marketing Blog. March 2011. (July 18, 2011) http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/9469/20-Examples-of-Great-Facebook-Pages.aspx
- Ware, Tim. "How to Build the Perfect Facebook Fan Page, 2011 Edition." Techipedia.com. April 2011. (July 18, 2011) http://www.techipedia.com/2011/build-facebook-page