8 Ways to Finesse Facebook for Social Media Marketing

Facebook is fast becoming the dominant business social media marketing tool and yet there are still many, myself included, who marvel at the clever things others are doing on their Pages and wonder how on earth they did that.

In this article we’ll explore behind the scenes and reveal some obvious and not so obvious things you can do to spice up your Facebook Page for marketing.

Group vs Page

So lets start with the difference between a Facebook Group and a Facebook Page.

Despite having lots of features in common there are substantial differences, the most important from a marketing perspective is that Pages are indexable by search engines whilst Groups are not.

While Groups gives you the ability to bulk email your members (the draw back being that once you hit 5,000 members you’re capped and no longer able to bulk email), Pages allow you to send all your fans an update that lands in their Inbox and there are no limits on these sends.

Pages also allow you to make use of Apps (applications) that further extend your ability to deliver your marketing message, whilst Groups have none of this functionality. On the plus side for Groups you do get greater control over who can participate through an approval process, whilst Pages only allow restriction by age and location.

To sum up, Pages give you a marketing position within Facebook (you can think of it as if it was your own prime real estate positioned interactive Billboard) whilst Groups give you a community space (like an exclusive up-market venue for a networking group or club).

Tweaking Your Facebook Page

The standard Facebook Page is pretty lifeless as a Marketing channel, the good news is that there are work-arounds, insider tips and apps that can turn your Page into something worthwhile. Here are just a few...

Page Profile Image

The size of your Page Profile Image sounds like its the one thing that Facebook are unable to make their mind up about. As of December 2010, you have a space of 200 pixels wide by 600 pixels tall, giving you plenty of space for pictures and text.

The trick is to get the positioning right for the square thumbnail that Facebook uses in Friend panels and against each update on your Page Wall.

Currently on a 200x600 Page Profile Image Facebook ignores the top 102 pixels and the bottom 339 pixels, which means that you or your designer need to take this into account when creating the image.

Status Mentions

Adding @mentions in your update is what you do when you make someone’s name go blue in a Facebook status.

Basically it is a type of tagging that you use to identify other Facebook resources that are within your social network – Friends, Pages, Events and Groups. The great thing about @mentions is that when you use them in your updates, the resources you tag your update will end up displaying your post on their Wall.

To use @mentions, simply type the '@' symbol followed by the name of whoever or whatever you want to tag and a handy dropdown list will appear. Click to select the one you want, complete your update and submit. The '@' symbol will not appear in your status update message on your Wall, however the resource you tagged is now a blue clickable link.

On December 18, 2010 Facebook accidentally rolled out new Page features that are currently in development. One of the new features people observed was automatic mentions. So in the nearish future you may be able to do away with using the '@' symbol, but for now it’s how you tag.

Static FMBL

The easiest way to get any type of HTML into the main content section of your Facebook Page is through the FMBL app. This app allows you to create a tab that works just like a regular web page with graphics, links and forms.

Rather than get bogged down in tutorial mode, here’s a tutorial from Mashable and a trouble shooting guide from Hyper Arts that will get you sorted.

Now that you’re on top of the whole FBML thing, here is something cool that will help with measuring your marketing efforts.

Adding Google Analytics to your Facebook Page

  1. You first need to have your Google Analytics UA tracking code handy;
  2. Next you need to create a custom image tag that will be embedded in your Facebook Page, you do this using the WebDigi Link Generator; and
  3. The final step is to take all the custom image HTML code the Link Generator created and paste it into the code on each Page you want to track.

For Fans Only

You may have seen this trick on some of Pages of big brands like Nike, Coca Cola and others… To see some cool content or access a coupon code you have to 'Like' the page first.

What’s really happening is that there are two layers to the FBML, the bottom one is shown to Fans and a top one that hides the Fan layer when you’re a Non-Fan.

You can experiment with this idea on your Page using this code –

<div style="width:520px;text-align:center;">
<fb:visible-to-connection>
<div style="position:relative;top:0px;left:0px"><img src="http://www.saresults.com/images/fans.jpg" width="507" alt="Fans see something awesome" border="0" /></div>
<fb:else>
<div style="position:absolute;top:40px;left:0"><img src="http://www.saresults.com/images/nonfans.jpg" height="180" width="497" alt="Non-fans see an invitation to Like" border="0" />
</div>
</fb:else>
</fb:visible-to-connection>
</div>

Here’s how it works. You’re using a div container to position the images in the two layers. The Fan layer image is set as the bottom image, whilst the Non-Fan image is positioned using CSS on top of the Fan image. Only when Facebook detects that there is a connection between your Page and the visitor (that means they 'Like' it) will the Non-Fan image be hidden away to reveal the Fan image underneath.

One other thing... when you're the administrator for the Facebook page, when you look at it (even if you Like the page) you see both images and it looks really odd. Rest assured that it works properly for everyone else.

Extended Info

Another great way to get HTML onto your Facebook page is with the Extended Info app. This app allows you to create a box, tab or custom section on your Info Page and makes it easy to collect information from your friends with click and name form fields.

Linked Website Snapshots

When you add a link to your status update you get the option to select an image from your website (mostly people select the logo) that accompanies the link, plus your META description from the website page linked to is displayed.

For some websites, particularly those that use Flash, there isn't really a suitable image that can be selected so when people reference your website in their status updates it looks flat and boring.

The way to overcome this lack of a great image is to add some additional META tags to your website pages that points Facebook to an image that you create just for this purpose.

In the <HEAD> section of your website pages simply add the following code using your own information in the content bits –

<meta property="og:title" content="title" />
<meta property="og:description" content="description" />
<meta property="og:image" content="thumbnail_image" />

Here’s an example –

<meta property="og:title" content="Social Media Checklist" />
<meta property="og:description" content="A checklist of things you can do to make life easier in the fast-paced and racy world of Social Media Marketing" />
<meta property="og:image" content="http://www.saresults.com/images/socialmedia.jpg" />

The safest dimensions for your image are - width 130 and height 110 pixels.

Vanity URL

Unless you have a Facebook vanity URL for your Page already, you’ll have one of those messy things like -

http://www.facebook.com/pages/yourbusiness/123456789

For a professional business, it’s the type of URL you’d be reluctant to print on a business card or stationery, which is why getting a pretty and clean looking vanity URL is such a good idea.

The great thing is that Facebook have made this really quick and easy to do.

  1. Log into your Facebook account. Facebook requires you to have a vanity URL for your Profile before it will allow you to create one for your Page.
  2. Change the URL in your web browser address bar (where the URL is shown) to be – facebook.com/username
  3. In the window that opens Facebook will suggest some names or you can type in one that you like in the form field.
  4. Make sure that it’s available and then double check your spelling and make sure you’re 110% certain that you’ve got the URL name you want, as there is absolutely no way of ever changing it again.
  5. Then click the blue ‘Set Username’ button and you’re done on your Profile.
  6. Now you’ll be prompted to go through the same process with your Pages.

Because there is no way you can reverse these vanity URL changes, Facebook will show you lots of warning messages before it accepts the change, so remain calm, double check your typing and get a great Facebook URL for your Page.

General Suggestions

Before you go crazy with changes and making your Facebook page really smokin' hot check out the fundamentals.

Keeping Up with Demographics

This has nothing to do with your actual Facebook Page and everything to do with the investment you make - your money and time.

Some business types can struggle with certain types of Social Media, and Facebook is no exception.

Before you over-capitalise in your Facebook investment (or other Social Network web presence) take a look at the demographics for the website and see if who you want to get access to is actually there.

QuantCast can be very helpful if you’re unfamiliar with the numbers.

Custom Friend Lists

A handy Facebook Profile feature that you use for segmenting your Facebook friends so that you can send them targeted messages. Rather than send all your contacts the same invitation to Like your Facebook Page, you can create messages to suit different type of friends.

To create a Custom Friend List, select Account>Edit Friends and click on the
'+ Create a List' button in the top right corner. Type in the name you want to call the segment, then click on the thumbnail photo for each friend you want to add to your Custom Friend List.

Now when you go into Messages, you’ll be able to type in the name of your Custom Friend List instead of individual names to send them all a message.

Old Versions in Memories

One other "accidentally released possible new feature" for your Profile/Page may be what Facebook calls Memories. The suggestion is that you will be able to look back… giving you a snapshot of each year’s activity since you’ve been on Facebook.

The introduction of this sort of feature may have implications around trust and commitment as people look to see how consistently you’ve engaged with Facebook and how much value you’ve contributed during that time.

Now all that's left to say is that like all things on the Web, everything can change in a heartbeat. The features you have today can be gone tomorrow, but rather than get gloomy about the potential loss, consider getting every last drop of value out of your efforts today and know that the connections you make now may be your future raving fans and loyal customers.

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