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Facebook Pages Get More Business Friendly

Update: I am hosting a live Facebook for Business webinar – Jan 21, 2010 – Listen to the archive recording here

This month’s overhaul of the the Facebook interface dramatically improved the functionality of the Pages feature on Facebook. Anyone with a Facebook profile has had the ability to add something called a Page to extend some content beyond the profile page. This was a smart thing for businesses to do as you could control the content and fans could subscribe to the content. The functionality, however, was pretty limited and these pages were more like static web page brochures than anything else.

With the latest overhaul the Pages have become much more profilelike and, in my opinion, much more useful as a tool for a business build a brand and community inside of Facebook.

New Facebook Pages

On top of a new tabbed interface the most notable changes are:

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. I believe 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 twitterlike feel to the status update. Not surprised really, but it was a bit jarring for the Facebook hardcore, many teenagers who still don’t have a use for twitter. But, the new status update being added to Pages gives businesses the ability to put update content out and on to the profile pages of 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.

Custom tabs mean custom landing pages

Another significant addition is the tabbed interface that can be lined up to focus attention on important elements of your Page. Now you can create tabs for things like videos, photos, discussion, 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.

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.)

Once you create the elements you can slide them around the page to the get them to display as you like. Here’s a quick example – Note: If you clicked on the example link I just gave you, it took you directly to the tab page I wanted you to go to. So, in effect, you can create and promote custom landing pages inside of your Facebook Page and promote them as entry points. Great place to offer non-fans a reason to become a fan. (tech note: you can edit the Boxes page by dragging the elements around, but you must go to wall page and hit Edit the page to edit an individual FBML element)

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 3rd party apps don’t.

I was able to install RSS-Connect and create a Blog/RSS tab that currently displays blog posts from all my Duct Tape Marketing Coaches and my twitter feed. There is a setting that puts these in the Wall page sidebar as well.

Seriously ugly URLs

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. I use fb.ducttapemarketing.com to get the job done.

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 your started.

A couple more example pages
Hubspot
The Advance Guard

Additional reading
Hubspot Overview of New Features
The Advance Guard free ebook
Mashable Overview
Venture Beat
Facebook’s Overview

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  • http://www.referralkey.com/ Chris O.

    I wonder what this will mean for Twitter?

  • John Jantsch

    @Chris – I don’t think it impacts twitter – it’s really Facebook trying to tap twitter’s popularity and copy its approach.

    the Facebook audience and twitter audience are different too – hardcore Facebook users, college students, don’t use twitter at all.

  • http://www.vinnylabarbera.mp Vinny LaBarbera

    Great article John, thank you!

    In response to your reply to Chris O., I think we are going to see this trend change very quickly as many people who religiously use Faceboook are also starting to get on Twitter. Ever since the Oscars starting using Twitter as well as the news and radio stations, I have noticed many people flocking to Twitter.

    Anyways, love the advice on the FB pages..thanks again.

  • http://www.referralkey.com/ Chris O.

    Idefinitley agree to some extent, (a few conversations reaffirmed) however, I think it is impossible for the new FB homepage not to affect Twitter in some way.

    Nearly every Twitter user has a Facebook and that can’t be ignored.

    What does that mean?

    We’ll need to revisit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Green-Boating/55084079854 Seth Platt

    I actually found a redirect that provided me with a link to the main page of my Facebook page. Copy the link location from the link on your Page with the analytics. The url is ugly but at least I can promote my Facebook page now. Will have to work on that redirect. As always, thanks for the great advice John.

  • http://webtechlaw.com Paul Jacobson

    Your 301 redirect idea is brilliant! Thanks for suggesting that. It is a fantastic idea.

  • http://www.queeniefestival.com jamesq

    Thanks for the article John,

    I recently set up a Facebook page for the Isle of Man Queenie Festival over setting up a Group and I’m sure these new developments will be really useful. I read somewhere that you should set up a Group as well but I’m not sure this would over egg the pudding and turn people away. Any thoughts?

  • http://www.goeverywhere.com GoEverywhere Team

    I am loving the new look and functions of Facebook. I logged on to my account on my webtop and was completely taken by surprise. I have yet to check out all of the changes entirely, but so far I am hearing some good feedback from FB users.

  • http://www.fiscalfreedomfighters.com Fiscal Freedom Fighters

    I love the new Facebook even though it’ll take some time to figure it all out. Your post was very helpful in getting a head start on it all though.

    One thing I’m curious about is to how it’ll impact the use of Groups. Do you think they’ll still be a prominent feature of FB?

  • http://www.pilothousecomm.com Phone Systems CT

    Great info – THANK YOU! I had just created a Page and then it all changed- one question- I’m looking at your page and see an icon to become a fan where people can easily click on to become fan- how do i do that? thanks again for cutting through the confusion to provide some really useful info.

  • http://www.thegospelstation.com Rita

    I want to set up a page for The Gospel Station radio network. Should it be a group? A Business page — and if so, is it better to choose a local (when we’re more than just local) or choose brand/ non-profit, or religious organization… or even public figure.

    My aim is to create awareness of our radio stations (like K-Love) and to increase listenership (having a live stream, and a link to our main website) AND having a way to do fundraising, as I am the donor development dir. Is it even advisable (or necessary anymore) to create a ‘normal’ facebook page (like my own personal one) for the Station? I don’t know if the business pages might limit my expression or that of the listeners.

    What apps might you recommend for the fundraising part?

  • http://stevereports.com Steve Pohlit

    John this is very useful information particularly the 301 redirect and the use of tabs.

    Thank you

  • Lynn

    Thanks for clarifying the changes–yours is the best written article I’ve read. I especially liked the specific examples you gave on potential for businesses.

    It does seem more difficult to *find* the fan pages I belong to. I find no place to go to see all my fan pages. Am I missing something? I’ve had to type the page name in the search box to locate them–this seems
    tedious.

  • http://www.the42ndestate.com Adam Pieniazek

    I was loving the new facebook pages…that is until the bugs hit.

    Our new blog posts are not pulling into our wall and we can’t respond to any comments. I can write the comment, submit it, but it never shows up…looks like a lot of other facebook page users are having similar issues, but of course the fortress that is facebook customer support is silent.

    For a site that claims it wants to encourage open communication, they sure don’t practice it themselves.

  • http://www.giossa.com Antonio Giossa

    John, I came here thanks to a Twitter link. In my opinion, you’re 100% right. The new Facebook is better for companies and organizations (but, on the opposite hand, it seems that many users doesn’t like it).

    Yours,

    Antonio Giossa
    Buenos Aires | Argentina

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Green-Boating/55084079854 Seth Platt

    I think another question to ask is will Facebook end the use of companies utilizing profiles to market their products and services. I believe this practice does not coincide with permission based marketing and should be discouraged. I continuously get invites to become friends with businesses. If Facebook wants us to create business pages it must insist others follow similar practices so that we have an equal marketing playingfield in attracting new customers.
    In regards to Rita’s question groups are a great additional tool for recruitment due to the invite feature, and have the capability of sending out email blasts to all your members.
    Additionally there is a new url direct Facebook app if you do not know how to do a redirect.
    http://apps.facebook.com/webaddress/

  • http://annmartinphotography.blogspot.com/ ann martin

    “I was able to install RSS-Connect and create a Blog/RSS tab that currently displays blog posts from all my Duct Tape Marketing Coaches and my twitter feed.”

    I would love to know the steps to accomplish this. I do have my blog as a sidebar on my boxes page, but it doesn’t format properly, half of the blog page is cut off.

  • http://www.iangilyeat.com EH

    I didn’t know that you could have things such as newsletter sign-up forms on your pages. This would be a great asset to our clients. Thanks for the tip!

  • http://www.twitter.com/tonyobregon Tony Obregon

    Thanks John, great tips. Looks like FBML won't accept Javascript though.

  • Jake

    Great post and great ideas! I have one question, how do I get my business' Page to be open to anyone without having to login to facebook? I can cut and past our Page URL and get to our Page if I am logged in, but not if I am not logged in.

    I see that your FB page is open to anyone w/out requiring them to sign in… how did you accomplish this?

    Thank you,

  • http://www.bloggingforboomers.com/ rosie

    I had such great drama using the redirect tool on my host site. It worked for minute then it went to other places on Facebook and finally just could not be found. Such great drama. I finally used a snipurl. But, I refuse to give up. Any suggestions?

  • Debbie

    Thanks for the great post. Do you know if you can create multiple business pages connected to your user profile?

    I'd like to create a business page for a friend's business and wondered if I could you the page manager from mine, but didn't know if I'd be able to designate which page the rss feed would go to. I have one, and they have one.

    Or, would it be best to set up a personal profile for them w/their own business page. Thanks for any help you can provide.

  • danstrongin

    does anyone know how to switch from my personal profile to my business page easily? also, how to get the twitter app to show up on my business page?

  • http://www.myttoos.com/Blog/ Rob

    Hi John, can u let us know howto add the newsletter to a fan page?

    Maybe you can post the code here or email me?

    Great work btw.

    Rob

  • http://www.mycmsite.com/jlavineway Jane Lavineway

    should you open a seperate Facebook page for your business, or just add a Fan page to your personal Facebook account?

  • http://www.mycmsite.com/jlavineway Jane Lavineway

    should you open a seperate Facebook page for your business, or just add a Fan page to your personal Facebook account?