After helping 5 people through this process in the past few months, I realize it is time to make a post on the subject.
Let’s face it: Facebook has a confusing interface. It’s easy to get lost on their site. And they don’t seem to have an obvious way to create Business/Fan Pages if you are already logged into your account. Actually, I’ve only found the Fan page to create these by going through their Help section. (And from here on, we’re just going to call the Business Page what many refer to them as: Fan Pages. They are the same thing.)
And then there are two types of Facebook accounts for businesses and non-profits: Groups and Fan pages.
So first, a few decisions to make and then the how to…
Before creating the Fan Page or Group Page, there are a few things to consider.
Before you create anything: are you authorized to do so by the organization you are creating a page for? In other words, did your boss or the head of the non-profit tell you to do so? Are you the boss? The reason to consider this is: whoever creates the page owns it and controls access to it. Thus, if you are a small business owner, YOU should create the Fan Page so you can retain control of it. If you ask an employee to do so, and they leave, can you get ownership of the page? Maybe. Now consider the scenario of a disgruntled employee or non-profit member leaving. Good luck with that.
Do you want a Group Page or a Fan Page? Or both?
Basically, one is indexed by search engines, viewable by those who are not Facebook members, and allows for tracking statistics of site visitors. The other does not do those things and is better suited to those who want to have extended discussions.
One author gave a nice breakdown of the difference between the two here.
A nice feature both Fan Pages and Groups have: the ability to designate other members as Admins. So if you are a busy supervisor lacking the time to maintain these sites yourself, you can certainly designate the activity to another employee. Just make sure they have a Facebook account and then invite them to the Group or have them become a Fan on the Fan Page. Once they have joined, you’ll see options to change them to an Admin and can set what they can and can’t do with the Page or Group.
Creating a Facebook Fan Page
First, log into your existing, personal Facebook account. Then, look at Advertising at the bottom of the page. Then select Pages. (Or, just go here http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php and simply walk through the signup form.) Once the page has been created, you’ll see an option to edit the page on the top left of the page under the picture. (And if you mouse over the picture, you’ll see the option to upload your own.)
Make sure you spend some time looking through the Apps area and see what you can use that may benefit your business. You can see find them by selecting Edit Page and then you will see the Applications area a little down the page. Also, you will see More Applications and Browse More to a wider variety of applications and widgets.
Some of these pre-made apps that may be useful to you. Also, if you run a search online for things like “create free widget” you’ll find websites made that allow you to do make your own widgets to install on Facebook. These sites require no programming knowledge and have little templates and wizards allowing you to create your own. Some have handy little drag-and-drop interfaces allowing you to customize your widget.
Not sure what kind of widgets to make? Take a look at your competitors pages. Or just browse those sites and see what they have to offer.
HELPFUL HINT: Make sure you bookmark the Fan page you have created. It may not show up in the Facebook search results right away. So if you don’t remember the address you may have a hard time finding it again. Also, you may want to become a Fan of the page so you can find it easier in the futuer. However, bear in mind that once you become a fan, your Facebook friends can see what you became a fan of. So hold of on becoming a fan until you feel like the page is complete and ready to launch. Then you can also use the Share button on the page to share it with your friends.
Creating a Facebook Group Page
Log into your personal Facebook account. Then look at the search box in the top right corner of the page. Just type the word groups and a dropdown will appear that you can click on. Click that and you’ll go to a page where you will see a Create a New Group button. From there, just fill out the information requested and there you go.
You will have the option to invite people to your group as well. Be selective in who you invite. Not everyone you know will be interested. And if you invite them and they don’t join, avoid sending them invites regularly. Take the hint and realize your group just isn’t their thing.
Once you’ve created your Fan Page and Group Page, don’t be afraid to play with it. You can’t break Facebook. Spend time changing where various components are located on the page, adding images, videos, widgets, and all the other things that go with having these pages. Have fun!