Facebook is a great tool for many businesses looking to reach out on a personal level to customers and potential customers. And more and more businesses now realize that a Facebook presence can be beneficial in their marketing plans.
Business use of Facebook though should be as thoughtful and planned as the use of any other marketing tool. You can’t just throw up a profile photo or graphic and expect big things. This ain’t a field of dreams – if you build it, they won’t necessary come.
The first major decision a business should make is whether to establish a Facebook profile, a Facebook group or a Facebook page. In our opinion, the only choice for a business is a Facebook page.
Once upon a time, groups were the only real option for a non-person on Facebook. And groups still have a valid purpose. If you have any sort of association that you wish to remain “invite only”, stick with a group. But, if you’re looking to use Facebook in your marketing scheme, “invite only” seems a bit counter-productive.
Facebook pages also have several advantages over profiles. (And Facebook specifically asks businesses to use pages as opposed to profiles.) While both profiles and pages funnel items into the news feeds of their friends/fans, Facebook pages are much more dynamic and customizable.
A business page can allow fans to post their own photos or video (subject to your moderation) and can even provide discussion boards related to your business, services and products. Another option for Facebook pages? Reviews.
Beyond these out-of-the-box components, Facebook now allows additional pages (up to 10, I believe) of coded content to be included in any Facebook page (but not in profiles). Businesses are no longer limited to the basic tabs. If you want to add a fully designed landing page featuring a clickable flyer or catalog view, you can. If you want to add newsletter sign up forms, you can. (Take a look at the Facebook pages of Gap, J.Crew and Dell for an idea of how intricate these can be.)
So, now you know how we feel about it? Any arguments for profiles or groups? Any features of pages we missed?