With the move to Timeline format in February 2012, Facebook Pages are increasingly becoming the primary hub for users to discover and interact with all types of businesses and organizations online. For marketers, Pages are the primary means of reaching your audience, by publishing content that appears in the News Feed and Ticker of users who have liked your page, and by paying to promote this content through Sponsored Stories.
This article provides a wide-angle view of Facebook Pages.
Basics: What is a Facebook Page?
Facebook Pages represent the official identity of businesses and organizations on Facebook. Anyone can create a Facebook Page, free of charge. The primary focus of Pages is content, uploaded or linked to by the owner of the Page, that is published to the News Feeds of Facebook users who have chosen to like a specific page. For example, as a user, if I like Coca-Cola’s Facebook Page, when Coca-Cola posts a photo using their Facebook Page, may see that photo in my News Feed. Whether or not a given user is shown this photo in his or her News Feed is determined by EdgeRank, Facebook’s set of algorithms that determine relevancy between people, pages and content. Understanding EdgeRank is critical to managing a successful Facebook Page, and we address the topic in-depth here.
To get started with creating a Facebook Page, click here. If you already have a Facebook Page, we recommend creating a test page in order to test out some of the techniques and strategies outlined in the Facebook Marketing Bible, without risking publishing accidental stories or making changes to your current page.
The Role of Pages in Facebook’s Ecosystem
Pages are designed to share stories, akin to the way Facebook’s users share stories with their own friends and social network. Whereas in 2011 Facebook focused on getting Page owners to share content, instead of pushing our advertising, Facebook’s goal in 2012 is to get businesses to give context to the content they share through Pages. This shift affects all Page owners, and is the core idea that should guide your approach to Facebook Pages.
While Timeline is an important aesthetic change, intended to encourage Pages to share stories, it is important to remember that the overwhelming majority (typically over 90%) of interactions between Pages and Facebook users occurs in the News Feed and Ticker. Facebook Pages themselves are visited by a relatively tiny number of users, and are typically only viewed when the user is discovering the page for the first time. Therefore,
- Focus on publishing great content that users will interact with and want to see in their News Feed – this is where the vast majority of your focus should be.
- The visual appearance of your Page should be thought of as a first-impression, akin to what you would want visitors to see when walking in the door for the first time.
The Look and Feel of Pages
Structurally, Facebook Pages are very similar to the Facebook Timeline (previously called “profiles”) that each individual Facebook user has. However, there are a few key differences in the type of content that is displayed:
While visually identical to cover photos for user Timelines, it is important to note that Facebook policy prohibits cover photos from containing any price or purchase information, contact info, calls to action or references to Facebook features such as Like or Share. The intention of this policy is to prevent cover photos from appearing like banner ads, and to ensure that Pages use the space for engaging images.
Prior to the introduction of Timeline for pages, this image was displayed at the top left of Pages, and was displayed in a larger format that accommodated for tall images. Now, it is displayed as a square image, displayed directly to the left of the Page name. This is the image that is displayed as a thumbnail in the News Feed
This section, displayed directly underneath the profile picture, displays information from the About section, for Pages that do not have a location:
For pages that have added a location, like a restaurant, retail store, or museum, this section displays the Page category, address, phone number and hours:
Apps and Views
This section displays all apps that have been installed on a given page. Previously, these apps were accessible via a small list on the left side of the page, underneath the profile photo, and commonly referred to as “Tab Applications”. Facebook’s own apps (Photos, Videos, Map and and Events) are pre-installed on every new Facebook Page, as they play an important role to the types of content Pages can publish:
Photos is always the first of the four items that are displayed, but the order of all other apps appear in can be changed by clicking on the pencil icon that appears in the top right:
It should be noted that while many marketers have spent both time and money in these Tab applications, in general they see very little traffic, and we do not view them as an effective marketing or advertising solution when weighed against other opportunities to invest both time and money.
The first item in the right column of a Page is friend activity – this section displays any interaction the user viewing the Page has had with the page, including likes, comments, shares and mentions of the page in their own status updates. This is Facebook’s way of surfacing connections between your Page and a user’s friends as the first piece of content on the Timeline, which fits in with Facebook’s larger principal that users are more likely to engage with businesses and brands that their friends are connected to.
Because Friend Activity is user-specific, there is no way to preview exactly what will appear in this section, but it is currently displayed as a story, if one exists:
And/or as a list of the user’s friends who like the Page:
Recent Posts By Others
Directly below Friend Activity is a box that includes the most recent posts made by other Facebook users, who are not friends with the user viewing the Page. Previously, before Timeline, Pages could choose to display this content on the Page’s wall, a concept that no longer exists. The fundamental idea here is that unless a user is friends with the person making the post, it is not particularly relevant to them. The new format allows access to these posts, without presenting them as a focal point for the Page.
Recommendations are displayed directly underneath Recent Posts by Others, but only for Pages with a location associated with them. Recommendations were added to Pages in June of 2011 as a way for users to write recommendations for places they had been, somewhat similar to reviews on Yelp or Foursquare.
Like Facebook users, Pages can like other Pages, and choose to feature up to five of these Pages. This box displays the Featured Likes that the Page owner has chosen. This is particularly useful for Pages that may represent businesses that are part of a larger parent company, have affiliate or partner businesses, or are about a specific product.