How to Develop and Maintain a Prosperous Facebook Page

While Facebook and Twitter battle for the top spot in the social media world one thing is clear – Facebook far surpasses all other social networking sites, including MySpace and LinkedIn. Twitter is undeniably hot but the 140-character limitation is, well, limiting. MySpace has clearly focused on making itself uber-hot for teens. LinkedIn is a great business tool but still keeps a corporate-like environment hovering over its virtual conference room, and without the water cooler conversation happening on Facebook, it just doesn’t measure up to the FB traffic, yet.

Facebook works because it crosses boundaries. When used correctly, business owners, managers and supervisors can tap into both business and personal connections. And for those who use FB on a personal level, the connections and “friends” can lead to fantastic business opportunities – if you create and use the Facebook page to the maximize the site’s potential.

And that’s the key. Many VARs are simply jumping in to social networking by simply creating a user name and password, writing up a bit of a bio and branding message and then, well, that’s it. They aren’t posting thought-provoking ideas or posing questions for discussion, or sharing links to great ideas from other sites. They are not utilizing Facebook to its full potential.

So how many friends do you have on Facebook anyway? While it’s not an end-all, be-all to whether or not your Facebook page is helping to position you and your brand, the more friends you have, the better the chances are that you’re reaching out to your customers – and their customers.

Here are just a few of the ways you can use your Facebook page as a mini-branding website in itself:

– Highlight company news.

– Invite customers and vendors to participate in events.

– Post links to articles, ebooks and online webinars that you offer.

– Connect and communicate with your customers.

– Continue to position your brand.

– Offer an honest inside glimpse of who you are and what your core values stand for.

Whether it’s for friends or fans, your page must communicate and continue to develop and tell your story and your brand. As you embark on creating your page for the first time, try these few easy steps:

– Determine who you want viewing your page and set your account settings accordingly. Do you want everyone on Facebook to be able to view your information or just your customers? Maybe it’s your customers and their customers (in Facebook this would be your “Friends” and their “Friends”). Once you decide whom you want to communicate with, ensure that your messaging and posts fulfill the needs of that target audience. Your customers may not want to know that your cat sleeps on your desk while you work – or maybe they do. The key is to provide a balance with informative information about your product and brand, while making it a bit human and personalized.

– Categorize your tabs on your profile page to match that of your audience. Will your target audience want more info than what is provided in the information section of the Facebook page? What kind of photos or video can you add? Facebook can conduct polls and surveys for you as well to drive conversation and position you as a thought-leader in the industry. Think like your customers would think. What would they want to learn from you? Then provide that for them.

– Have a party. Or in Facebook’s world, an “Event”. An event doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical happening in a brick and mortar location either. It could be a webinar invitation or a blog posting that you’ve created where you want to encourage people to interact with you on a particular topic. Facebook allows you to invite people to events. It’s a great way to make your customers feel a part of your community and your world. And you help to position your brand at the same time.

– Continue to offer the goods. Customers, vendors – your friends – will continue to come back to your FB page and interact with you if you provide them with a steady flow of resources, information, and insight that will help them do their jobs better in order to be more profitable. Are there new trends on the horizon that you’re aware of? Have you partnered with two vendors in order to offer a complete end-to-end solution for your customers? What are the tools you have in your treasure chest that will help to motivate those you engage with? Add those to your page as well.

Just because you have a Facebook page doesn’t mean that it’s working to your benefit. To make your Facebook page dance you must show a bit of vulnerability, a lot of energy, and offer up plenty of reasons for friends and fans to stay connected. Most importantly, create a Facebook plan that will keep you on track and on target with your goals – and help you to build more and more friendships.