Article at a glance:
- Facebook is one of the easiest social networks to use.
- Getting started requires only a valid e-mail.
- Post a link, photo or comment once or twice a day.
With half the U.S. population on Facebook, it’s easy to surmise that pretty much everyone who’s conscious and has a heartbeat is posting status updates and “liking” Starbucks.
Online social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are fabulous – free – DIY promotional tools. But if half the country is using Facebook, the most popular of these, guess what? Half of us aren’t. And the older you are, the more likely you’re not. According to socialbakers.com, 24 percent of Facebook users are 18 to 24 years old; only 13 percent are 45 to 54. And it goes down from there.
Why all this about Facebook? Because if you’re not using social media, you’re missing a great, big (have I said free?) opportunity to tell people about your product, book or business. The more friends and “likes” you get, the more your audience grows; every person who connects with you is also potentially sharing your message with all of their friends.
Of all the social media, many agree Facebook is the easiest to use. Personally, I think it’s the most fun. I enjoy reading other people’s posts and sharing links, advice, photos and other bits of my life on my page.
Maybe you’re not on Facebook yet because you don’t know how to get started. Or you’ve launched a page, but it’s sitting there twiddling its thumbs because you’re not sure what to do next. If this is you, or if you’re a Facebook vet interested in fresh ideas for content, help has arrived. I asked our Social Media Campaign Manager, Jeni Hinojosa, to give you some tips to get you up, running and “liking” a whole new world!
To set up a Facebook account, go to www.facebook.com and click “sign up.” You’ll need a valid e-mail account, and you must provide your birthday (which you can hide from the public.) You’ll be guided through the steps for creating a personal profile page, which can be limited to viewing by close friends and family, or can become your public persona. Facebook walks you through all of the steps for creating this page.
Don’t ignore the profile picture! Part of the value of social media is that people can put a face – or an icon that represents you – to a name. If you’re promoting yourself as a means to get the word out about your book or product, I recommend using a self portrait.
Some people create a personal profile page in their business’s name. That’s not a good idea. Facebook users don’t visit these often because there’s little interaction and they tend to look like advertisements. Instead, businesses, authors and entrepreneurs can opt to create a “fan page” devoted to their brand and message.
In the upper right-hand corner of your Facebook profile page, click the arrow next to the word “home.” Then click “account settings.” In the new screen, find the row of words across the bottom right and click, “Create a page.” You’ll see six options; local business is one. If you’re planning a page where you’ll be interacting with users (which I recommend) click “Cause or Community.” Facebook will also walk you through setting up this page, which has features that are different from your personal profile page.
So now you’re up and running. Hooray! Here are some suggestions for making friends and getting people to “like” your page – the keys to growing your audience.
- Let people know you’ve launched a new page. For your personal profile page, search for people you know and invite them to be a “friend.” (They can accept, decline or ignore your invitation; you’ll only know if they accept.) If you’re launching a business or community page, invite them to take a look. These pages don’t get “friends;” instead they get “likes” when people visit and click the little thumbs-up icon in the upper right-hand area. When someone “likes” your page, the content you post will show up on their pages, where their friends will see it and, perhaps, be enticed to visit. (Do not ask for or demand that people “like” your page. It’s not good etiquette.)
- Visit other pages with topics relevant to yours. If you’re promoting a craft beer, visit pub pages, beer-lover pages and others with similar interests. “Like” those pages and interact with the people there by adding your comments to the posts. You can also simply “like” comments and photos – keep an eye out for little thumbs-up icons! All of that activity gets more visibility for your page; if you have interesting things to say, people may return the visit.
- Post status updates once or twice a day. Keep the content on your page interesting to give readers a reason to visit. You might post a link to an article that’s relevant to your topic; you can share a personal experience or useful information; or offer advice. Photos are popular and you can post what you find on the internet or upload your own. When you can’t think of anything at all to say, try finding a fun photo and announcing a “photo caption contest.” That tends to get people commenting.
- Respond to comments and posts by others. Check your page regularly and be sure to respond to any comments or questions. Invite people to add their own posts to your page, and when they do, be sure to thank them and “like” their message or comment.
Once you get going, be careful; social media can become addictive!
I hope this information makes you feel more comfortable about getting started on Facebook, and more effective if you’re already there. It’s high time you started experiencing how the other half lives!