10 Power Tips for Building & Growing Your Facebook Page.


by Gavin Seim. Updated 09/19/11. (Look for 09/11 note in tip titles).

So, you want a wildly popular Facebook page with thousands of screaming fans begging you for more?

I may not be able to give you that. But you never know. Seriously though, let me be clear. I have no intention of writing about how you can triple your fans overnight and make $4k a month in your spare time, while eating Cheetos and drinking beer. This is an in-depth article for anyone (but especially photographers) trying to build a real presence on FB. I’ve spent a lot of time working with pages, and this is nearly everything I’ve learned, all laid out for free.

Facebook Pages can be great tool for any business. They allow us to promote our brand in an interactive way on a venue frequented by a large portion of the population. It’s also free, which is even better. Now FB may not be a big deal five years from now, but today it’s king of the social web, and in business, we go where the customers are.

On the one hand, pages are simple, but their social nuances are what can make them truly effective. Watch for reference links throughout that will help you find your way through FB’s maze of information, starting withinternal help discussions where you can ask specific questions of other users.

Making a FB page successful takes cultivation, kind of like an garden. If you nurture it, it flourishes and produces. But if you ignore or abuse it, it gets sick, dries up, and dies. OK, now that my dramatic food analogy is over, let’s get into the tips. If you don’t already have a page, you can start by making one here. I maintain lots of pages, so feel free to check out any of them for ideas and +Like them if you like what you see.

1. Add Real Value:

Successful Pages are not about SPAM. They’re really about permission marketing (Seth Goden’s book is great for more information on that topic). When someone Fan’s (or +Likes) your page, everything you post to that page will show up in their feed. That person is giving you permission, and that’s VERY valuable. It’s also to be used with caution. If you abuse that permission, fans will learn to ignore, be annoyed with, and or Un-Like you for going overboard. Take the time to make a page with a balance that represents your brand and provides content and information that fans will enjoy. They already like you so the battle is half won. But only half. The rest is in your hands.

2. Get Some Balance:

This is a tough aspect. How much posting is too much? Well, we should first keep in mind how jaded people are to marketing BS. The best thing is to make your page less about marketing and more about you and your fans being friends. Add value and make them want to be involved. Lets consider a few examples.

  • Good: Sally posts her latest photos to her Sally Sue Photography page at 1PM. At 6PM, she sends out updates to her fans about the sale that’s going on. The next day, Sally does not post at all. The day after she posts a little photo tip for her fans. A week later, she make a nice reminder post letting people know the sale ends tomorrow. She follows this by posting a photo of a sunset she took over the weekend with a fun little story telling about where she went and what she saw.
  • Bad: Billy posts his latest sale on his Billy Bob photography page at 1PM and follows it up by sending an update to all his fans. At 8PM he posts it again just to make sure. The next day, Billy posts a photo from a senior session and lets everyone know in the description that a SALE is going on. That evening he posts again telling everyone that his SALE is still going on for a limited time and they should call SOON because space it limited.
  • Good: Sam posts a photo he loves and tags the subject in it so they’ll see and share it with their friends. The subject loves the photo, too, and shares the whole album with her friends, who then then tag other people they know from the event, thus continuing the process.
  • Bad: Dufis posts a photo of a dog with a link to his page in the description. He then tags all his friends as being in the photo, so they’ll be notified and comment to tell him how awesome he is. Yes, people do this. It’s called TAG SPAM and it makes people angry.

I think you get the idea. There are no set rules about when and what to post, but it should be appropriate. FB is a social place, and people hate being spammed. It can be very tempting to abuse your page for a few extra likes today, but it’s at the expense of real customers in the future. Most of us have had moments where we felt we overdid it in our marketing. Just think about how annoyed you get when people spam you, then imagine yourself receiving what you’re about to post. Would you be interested? Balance is the first key to a great page.

3. Content, Posts & Updates:

There are two primary ways to interact on a FB page. One is to send an update to fans, which you can do from the admin panel (Edit Page/Resources/Send an Update). The other way is to simply post on your page wall (just like you do with your personal profile). This can be a quick thought, a link, a photo, or even a video. When you post to the wall, it shows up in the feed of all your fans. When you send an update it only lets them know they have an update. They can decide whether to look or not.

Personally, I find wall posts more effective and rarely Send Updates to fans. Some people think sending an update is more like an email to everyone. In a way, it is. Fans will be notified, but that’s often where it ends because it seems to feel more like SPAM and tends to get treated that way (meaning ignored). Wall posts show up more like a conversation in feeds and get responses. I’m sure there are differing opinions on this, and I’m not saying you can only choose one. This is just my experience.

Keep the content going by making your page a one stop shop for your brand. Post links to new products, information, or blog posts on your website, maybe a video now and then. People are fans because they want to hear from you. Just make sure you don’t abuse that, and all should be well.

Even more importantly, post things that are interesting or start discussions. In 2011, FB started some sort of system where posts that get interest get moved to the top. I can’t pin down exactly how it works, but essentially, if you’re posting things that don’t get interest (likes, comments, etc.), FB shows that post to fewer people. It’s frustrating as such systems are inaccurate, but that’s the way it is for now.

4. Page Names & URL’s:

We’ve been able to set personal user names for a while now (i.e. facebook.com/gavinseim), but FB has the ability to set user names for pages (i.e. facebook.com/prophotoshow). You can do it here, providing you have 25 or more fans. A page user name is cool because it makes it easy to direct people to your page via business cards, ads, etc. Bear in mind that a page name or url cannot be easily changed once set, so be careful. Use a name you don’t like or spell it wrong, and you’ll have to go through a load of hoops to change it. Hopefully in the future it will get easier.

You can also set the category of your page. I’ve not found that this is particularly relevant to getting new fans. But you will want to be in a fitting category. You can change this later however.

UPDATE – Linking Your Page to Your Profile Employment Link. As of early 2011, on FB profiles, a person’s employer or business shows up at the top of their personal profile (you set this in your personal profile information). The problem is that it often links to a blank community page instead of your actual FB page. If you delete your current job and re-add it with business name “exactly” as it appears your page (not the url but the name), it should link properly from your profile info to your page.

For example, I was listed as employed by “Seim Studios” (my current business name). My page however is called “Seim Photography” (from years ago) even though my page URL is faceboook.com/seimstudios. After I changed my employer to the “excact” name of my page (Seim Photography), it linked just fine.. If you still have issues, there’s also a method using a browser plugin that allows you to dig in deeper.

5. Using Photos (09/11):

Posting photos to your page is a great way to share your latest project and get visual. Even for non photographers, it’s a good method of starting conversation. When I shoot a wedding, I hop on FB after the client proofing and post some images with my name in the corner (see the signature and logo article for more on this). I then tag the subjects in them, and the photos get seen (and hopefully shared) with the client’s friends.

A few hassles: First, FB has pretty poor image quality. It’s better now than it used to be, but it’s not great. I usually export my images about 800px from LR, with my name on them (using the LR mogrify plugin), and then upload them to FB. The quality gets crunched, but people are used to it. In the description, I’ll often link to a blog post with HQ images or a sideshow to generate extra cross traffic to my own site.

The next hassle is that while we often want to post photos to our page rather than our personal photo albums, it can be frustrating because people are not allowed to comment or even +Like a photo unless they’re a fan of the page that posted it. Still, I’ve decided to stick with it and post client images to my “page” rather than my “personal profile,” and over time it will build fans of my page. I’ve often let people know how to comment and +Like a photo by adding a line in the photo or album description. It can vary by situation, but I use something like this:

  • “Note: You can comment/tag once you +LIKE the Seim Studios page.”

A more recent tip in posting notes like this is that if, while typing a post or photo description, you use the @ symbol, and it pops up a list as you start typing the name. Select what you want, and it links directly to a person (or page). This means you have have something like “+LIKE the Seim Studios page,” and the page name will be tagged as an active link.

So, let’s say you tag a client in a photo on your page, then link to the page using the @ method. Every time someone views photo (even from that client’s wall), it shows that active link, and they can +Like you in a snap

This linking approach is clean and useful in for various things, just don’t over use it. Also, it’s proving to be a bit quirky at times (I think they keep changing it). But currently you can use this to link from a post or a photo that is posted to your page wall. For some reason, it does not seem to work in an a photo album description. But that could just be a bug.

6. On Tagging (also see 5 for tagging ideas):

If you’ve been on Facbook for a while, you’re probably familiar with tagging. Tagging on pages is simpler than on profiles, though it can be more restrictive. You can upload a photo, then tag the subject(s), who will then be notified, and have the photo appear in their photos and wall. Bear in mind that to tag someone they have to be your friend (via personal profile). Just a fan is not enough (believe me, it’s a requested feature). More on this in the friends and more tip section below

Allowing fans to tag photos on Facebook Pages. Not only can you tag your friends on page photos, but fans can tag their friends as well. I have no clue why this feature is hidden, but the option to control it does exist. It seems to be off by default, but turning it on will allow fans to tag photos that you post on your page. That’s good advertising. I’ve started gently encouraging tagging in albums and photo descriptions. Here’s how enable fan tagging for your page.

  • As of Spring 2011: Go to “Edit Page,” then click “Apps.” Look for the “Photos” application. Click the link under the details that says “Go To App.” This will take you to the page (shown below) that allows you to enable/disable tagging as well as re-adjust fan photo settings if needed. Click save, and you’re all set.

7. Walls and Stuff:

Just like you, fans like to be appreciated and responded to when they speak. It’s an honor, as well as great advertising, when someone says something good about you or your brand, and you should generally respond in kind. While you could run into a situation where something is said you don’t like, most fans have a positive mindset. As a page owner or admin, you have the right to remove posts or comments from fans, but be careful. People are touchy about being censored. If someone is cursing your mother and saying your business in belongs in @%$&, then you probably want to remove it. However, if there’s a valid concern from a fan, the best way to diffuse it is by fixing the problem and sometimes by letting everyone see that you fixed it is a positive thing. It’s your page and your call, just think before you act.

Login as a Page or as yourself (NEW): With the new page designs introduced early 2011, you can log in as one of your pages. When you switch, it means you get notifications and comment on things under the name of any page you admin. This can be useful, but be wise. Don’t use it as comment spam in hopes of getting more fans.

To change who you appear as, just click the “Account” drop-down in the upper right of FB. Then click “Use Facebook as Page” and select the page you want to appear as.

You can also interact on a page as yourself (i.e. personal profile name). I often find this to be a bit more personal, and it’s also great on pages with multiple admins since everyone can post as themselves rather than the page. To adjust these settings, go to your page, then to “Edit Profile/Your Settings,” and select the option you want, as shown below.

Finally, Pages have options for how users can interact with the page. For example, you can show only admin posts in the main feed, or you can also show fan posts. You can also control things like what users can post, profanity filters, and more. Adjust these settings from “Edit Page/Manage Permissions” as shown below.

8. Friends & Beyond:

There’s some debate about handling your profile. Many want to keep their business and personal profiles separate, but if you want to tag and interact with people you often have to be their friend (as in the case of tagging on page photos). Some get two profiles for this reason, but I can’t say I recommended it. FB terms state that you have to use your real name. Based on my research, using a nickname of even a business name as your profile is a good way to get banned (Note. I’m not talking about using your business name for your “page” but for your personal profile).

Bottom line: I friend my clients, and I do mix business with personal life to a degree on my profile. Now, on my fan pages, I’m pretty much all business (they +Like’d my page for its topic or brand), though I do try to keep it relaxed, fun, and informal. Also, because my clients are generally FB friends, I may hold my tongue on my personal profile as well, but if I feel strongly about something (yes, even politics or religion), I’ll post it anyway (on my profile). I keep in mind that my clients see what I post and decide accordingly, and this determines how far I want to go. As always, exercise wisdom when speaking.

A little tip about Events. They can be a good way to promote your event and let friends know (again, just use caution and don’t be spammy). Normally, when you schedule an event, it’s assigned to your personal profile, but if you use FB as page (like we talked about above), the event will actually have been started by your page. Because of this, it will show up in the Events tab on the left of your page if you’ve added it in. Edit Page/ Apps/ Events.

It’s up to you. Make the event host your profile, or make it your page. Note that while using FB as your page, you cannot send invites like you normally do. You can comment, share, and send an update to page fans, but to invite your personal profile friends you’ll have to use FB as yourself again.

9. ACTUAL FB Rules:

Mostly we’ve discussed guidelines today, but FB has some real rules regarding pages and profiles as well. The last thing you want is to build a valuable network, then get banned for a breach, and lose everything you’ve built. FB is huge, and it can be fickle and care little about you. See the FB Terms for a general overview (Section 12 for pages). In general, it’s pretty normal stuff like no spamming, but keep your eyes open. If you think it might not be allowed, look into it. You might also take a peek at Promotion Guidlines as there are some deeper rules regarding things like sweepstakes and contests.

Rules About profiles. It’s a no-no to have a personal profile and then make another profile for your business. You can make as many pages as you like (they are attached to your current profile), but you cannot have two Facebook profiles. I know, I know, many like the idea of having a personal profile for friends and a business profile for work allowing you to friend clients, tag them on your pages, etc. But it’s still against the rules. I don’t know how heavy FB watches this or what happens if you get caught. But if you get banned, you’re on your own, because FB is very clear on this matter. You can find the rules on profiles here.

Also, make sure you have a secure password and don’t get scammed out of it. If you get email asking for your FB login, it’s probably a scam. If a spammer takes over your account, your account may could get turned off because it’s being abused. While you may be able to appeal and explain what happened, it’s a real hassle you want to avoid. If the worst happens, however, take a look at this FB help pagefor info on getting your profile or page reinstated.

Sub Tip. Add a friend or family member as an administrator on your pages. That way, if something happens that causes you to be locked out of your profile, you still have a way to gain access to your page. To add admins, go to Edit Page/Manage Admins and add whomever you want.

10. Getting More Fans (09/11):

So you’ve made your page, have high hopes, and maybe even a good group of fans already. But how do you keep getting more fans without doing something that will get you on the national news, perhaps killed, or in jail? Well, there are a few things to consider before that.

Content & Sharing. Be consistent with relevant content. Be fun, yet professional. Post relevant and educational information, not just your latest sale. Get people interacting; don’t just expect everyone will seek you out because you’re that cool (even if you are). You don’t have to be spammy, but you do have to work to let people know you’re on FB. Try suggesting your page to friends. Just don’t become that guy who annoys everyone one about becoming a fan day after day.

Also as of Jan 2011, only admins can “Suggest a page.” That means that friends and fans can only “Share” a page (i.e. post it on their profile walls). Annoying as it may be, that’s the way it is. Refer people to the “Share” link on the very bottom left of the page.

Also, now that you can use FB as your page (as in tip #7), that means you can post as your page, which can be a good way to promote yourself. But use this with caution. It’s VERY easy to get spammy and obvious that you’re making posts just to get clicks to your page. I don’t post as page often. I’m not saying it’s a bad tool. Just use it carefully.

Cross Promoting & Website Links. You can share posts from your page to your personal profile or now and then share the pages themselves (bottom left of page). You can also link to your profile with a plain or image link from your site menus. There are also buttons that allow people to +Like your page or a specific article on your site. These are even more valuable and something users seem to be getting comfortable with. DO THIS NOW. It can be very good for page likes and for site traffic.

For example, you’ll see a like button used in this post. There are various ways to do it, but as a WordPress user, I simply use two plugins. At the top of this post, you’ll see a simple sharing bar of Like buttons for FB and others. There are options, but I use the Social Sharing Toolkit. Clicking Like, +Likes and shares a post and is great for letting people easily spread the word on interesting content (like this post ;).

But at the bottom, you’ll see I have another button to +Like the PPS Facebook Page. For this, I’ve been using the Like Button Plugin for WP. By using both plugins, I can have Like buttons for the page and for the post itself. You can also manually add buttons to your site generated by FB using Like badges.

Paying for Facebook +Like’s. Another way is to advertise your page within FB (for which they charge). This can be expensive (usually pay per click) and has varying degrees of success, so plan before you get into that. On the upside, you can set your budget to whatever you want and target your audience with FB ads, and it can be an interesting way to experiment with what people react to. But in my experience, it’s not the best way to get new customers. It often seems to cost more than the return.

Aside from buying ads outright, a new trend from services like Fiverr is people offering to get you Likes for a few dollars. I don’t know how the rules read on this, but be aware of how it works. I’ve tried it, and you can read about that experience here. Bottom line: some people will suggest your page to their friends for a few $$, and you’ll probabbly get some legitimate new fans.

Others promise more. For example, you get 200 new fans for $5. While they may well follow through, it’s pretty pointless. The accounts that Like your page you are not active users. Rather they seem to be accounts that have been setup strictly for this purpose. They like your page, and that’s as far as it goes; these are just accounts made to Like pages. While you’ll gets fans fast, you’ll kick yourself soon after when you realize that all these new fans mean nothing at all. The gratification is negative.

Finally. Some make the mistake of being hands off on the internet, either from laziness, or perhaps thinking their stoic silence makes them more awesome. It doesn’t. Keep your brand info and content up to date. When a fan posts on your wall, respond personally and by name. Remember, this is a fan page and fans love being appreciated. Make them feel appreciated by replying, giving them occasional special deals, or even freebies. Last, but not at all least, talk about things other then yourself and make your page something worth looking at, instead of just another ad in a sea of ads. Make it a conversation between you and your customers. Make it fun and interesting, and they will keep coming.

That’s all for now. I will continue to update this post as things change. Good luck, and feel free to leave your own ideas in the comments.

Gav

Gavin Seim is a photographer, podcaster and photo educator from Central Washington who specializes in pictorials, portraits and staying on the bleeding edge of the industries latest concepts and technology.