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NMOA Direct Marketing Article
Why You Need a Facebook Page - And What You Should Do With It
By Alison Zarrella

Local restaurants. Regional chains. Big-name celebrities and independent business owners. They're all on Facebook. Because no matter what industry you're in, chances are, your customers are on Facebook. And if they're not?

A Facebook Page offers a huge potential to connect with fans in a new way. Your competitors know this, and your customers are already there. To younger generations, it's especially odd to see a company NOT using Facebook. In short, you can't afford not to be on it.

Many people sign up for Facebook and quickly get discouraged by all the things they think they can't do or don't understand. But that doesn't need to be the case. Here are a few tips to help you step by step through developing and maintaining a Facebook Page and marketing campaign.

Use a Facebook Page
There are a few times when you may choose a Group over a Page, but for most marketing activities, Pages are the way to go. They are the Facebook-preferred method for brand-to-consumer conversation and offer more tools for Admins, as well as Facebook support for new functionality. Groups are easier to set up, so they are used more frequently for smaller, less professional initiatives.

Customize Your Page
Brand your Page by taking advantage of the Page customization opportunities available for free, like an FBML tab. Don't worry about competing with the big name-and big budget-brands. If you have a basic knowledge of HTML, you can create a custom FBML tab with images and text. Include an incentive to "like" the Page, like an exclusive offer. And take advantage of native Facebook functionality. Photos, Videos, Notes, Events and yes, even Groups, can be used on or with your Page.

Focus On Content
Content is a cost effective way to boost your Page presence and set yourself apart from the competition. Develop a content strategy, and aim to post once a day. Try creating themes and patterns for content, so contests, tips, fan features each have their own day. And when writing posts, focus on engagement (comments and "likes" on posts) to increase Page interactions, which boost your presence in the Newsfeed and help drive more "likes" overall. Experiment with media wherever possible, which gives people more to look at and helps them stick around longer.

Monitor and Manage Your Page
Once your Page is on Facebook you need to interact with your fans. And that doesn't just mean broadcasting your message. Ask questions and listen to comments and complaints. Thank your brand enthusiasts and respond to criticism or questions honestly and openly. Have a policy in place for responding on Facebook, and stick to it. Automated systems can help monitor, but you need to manage actual follow-up.

About the Author:
Alison Zarrella
Interactive Copywriter & Social Media Consultant
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