Facebook Pages functionality has improved dramatically with the recent interface overhaul. Now, it makes even more sense for small businesses to consider creating a Facebook business page as a bit of an outpost for the business.
You must have a Facebook profile in order to create what many call a fan page on Facebook. To start creating a page, simply log in and visit the Create a Page function.
Custom tabs mean custom landing pages
The first thing you may notice is the tabbed interface that can be lined up to focus attention on important elements of your page. You can create tabs for things like videos, photos, discussions and events and by doing so you can build out subpages with a specific focus. These tabs use common Facebook applications, such as Events, to drive the page content and are simple to set up and edit. Each tab has a unique URL giving you the ability to promote particular events or photos as well as create some custom landing page functionality.
The addition of the Wall function
Fans and non-fans alike can view and join the conversation by commenting on activity and creating activity on your page’s Wall. This added level of engagement gives pages much more dynamic community building functionality and helps your page behave much like the rest of Facebook.
You may also notice that Facebook in general has taken on a Twitter-like feel on the status updates. These status give you the ability to put content out and on to the profile pages of your page’s fans. This alone should get your attention. If used properly this should give businesses the ability to more effectively, yet still gently, promote within Facebook.
Tricking out boxes with FBML app
A new default tab called Boxes holds lots of potential for businesses as well. Think of a box page as a free form scratch pad. You can add up to 10 of what Facebook calls FBML elements (you must add the Facebook Static FBML application to your apps to edit these). FBML is Facebook’s mark-up language but these elements will take any HTML as well. So you have the ability to add newsletter sign-up forms, ebook downloads, and other HTML based elements. (You can add any of the default elements such as video or discussions as well.)
Doesn’t play nice with apps
One source of frustration at the moment is that Facebook just kind of flipped the switch on this update without much warning so many apps don’t work with the update. Facebook’s homegrown apps, such as video, events, photos and discussion--all good ones for your page, seem to work, but for now many other third-party apps don’t.
I would suggest you install the Facebook Notes, Extended Info Box, Events, and Video applications and then use the third-party Twitter and Blog RSS applications to bring your blog and Twitter activity into your Facebook business page.
Seriously ugly URLs
Facebook has suggested that brands will be able to acquire vanity URLs for their business or personal pages, but it is not available as of this writing.
While you can promote your Page URL from outside of Facebook, the URL structure is pretty ugly and long. I would suggest creating a subdomain on your site and using that as the main promotion URL with a 301 redirect to your Facebook page.
This is an evolving platform and my page is by no means the ultimate example of what’s possible for business using Pages, but it should get you started. You can view the Duct Tape Marketing Facebook fan page here.