Social Media

A Simple Guide to Running a Facebook Page

So, I’ve created a Facebook page to promote my work… now what do I do with it?

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while, but was holding back because there’s so much I don’t know about running a Facebook page.

But I’ve seen a few different versions of the “so now what?” question recently, which has prompted me to pass on and share, for what it’s worth, that which I have learned so far.

This guide is based on 3 simple principles:

  • Keep learning
  • Keep listening
  • Keep it simple

What are the benefits of running a Facebook page?

  • It’s a simple way for you (and your fans) to spread the word about what you do.
  • It allows for organic growth (the more clicks, likes, fans… the more people find you, easily).
  • It provides a means for you to learn more about others (whether that’s clients, customers, students, participants, community)
  • A separate page means you can separate out your personal use of Facebook from your professional presence.  This means, if you want to, you can keep your friends to those you ‘really’ know (whoever you define this) and your updates fairly personal / private.
  • There are lots and lots of people on Facebook.  You should be there too.
  • It’s not a huge amount of work given the word-spreading benefits.
  • Trying to figure how Facebook works (or doesn’t) teaches you about social media, community building, online marketing, human behaviour

The Set Up

  • You probably want to have a welcome page to explain what you’re about, (and also make that your landing page for new visitors)
  • There are applications you can use that allow you to import your blog feed
  • After that you can add in other things like photos, events, videos, but remember to keep it simple (and proportionate)
  • Have a look round for the ways others have set up their pages.  Think about what you like, and what seems to work
  • Just as you would borrow ideas from the blogosphere: look for good examples, borrow from the best, see how you can apply it to your own
  • Once you know what you’re trying to do, google for the technical ways to do it.  There are lots of good blog tutorials out there that will talk you through things step by step (a couple of examples at the bottom.)
  • But: you need to accept that the way to do things on Facebook keeps changing.  Advice you find might be out of date, or about to become so.

Content: What do you put on the page?

  • Go beyond links to your blog posts - it’s not that an interesting a diet on its own
  • Post short updates that are simple and easy to digest.  Thoughts, reflections, quotes, some links to good stuff you’ve read elsewhere, prompts, questions.
  • Be positive and encouraging.  People often go to FB for a pick-me-up.  Offer something that provides support, inspiration, food for thought, a moment to pause and see a problem differently.
  • You can also prompt discussions: I don’t use that feature myself though as a) the material can get lost, not appearing on the wall and b) it’s more work to manage and moderate than I think it’s worth.
  • Get ideas from the way others use fan pages (that means you’d better sign up to some to get an idea of different approaches)

Managing and Moderating

So, you’ve got your page up and running, with content going out… then what?

Well, mainly, it’s a question of popping over, checking in, showing up, responding, and being present.

There’s also remembering to:

  • Keep an eye out for news on changes that Facebook is making to pages, in case it affects you
  • Be patient, and accept that FB is quirky and often frustrating
  • Weed out ‘look at my stuff!’ material posted on your page wall.  (How much material you want others to post and share is something you want to consider, both at the start, and as you go along, in the light of how people use / abuse it)
  • Respond to comments (and moderate / delete stuff you’re not happy appearing on your page)…
  • … without needing to respond to every last word.  Conversations drift in a different kind of way on FB than they do on a blog.  It’s okay to leave some thoughts trailing; in fact you’ll need to, or you’ll never get to the end of some conversations.
  • Decide what to do about becoming friends of fans (ie those who like your page). I don’t befriend fans unless they also happen to be people I ‘know’ in other ways.  (My FB friend rule is currently: would I email this person for help, regardless of whether or not I’ve met them in real life? If yes, they’re a friend.)
  • Tune in to the things people are talking about, or seem to like, and think about ways to respond to those interests and needs.
  • Don’t worry about the ‘right’ way of managing a page… go with what suits your style, the amount of time you have, how much engagement you’re looking for and so on

I’m sure there are lots of other points I’ve missed from this guide, but I was trying to keep it simple and not put you off if you’re contemplating running a page!

What would you add to this list?  What have you learned about ‘what works’ either from running a page, or participating on the pages run by others?

Some Resources:

If you want to see how I’m using Facebook, I’ve two pages on the go:

The Writing Space

The Midlife Journal

Here are a couple of examples of blog tutorials on how to set up Facebook pages. There are *lots* more out there.

How to use FBML to display your profile photo on a custom fan page: (Anti) Social Development

How to add a custom tab to your Facebook fan page: Blog Design Studio

Kim Woodbridge has lots of really good material at (Anti) Social Development - browse the Facebook category she has there for more.

Last but not least, if you’re not sure of the benefits of running a Facebook page, you might want to read this article about the way best-selling author Isabel Losada uses Facebook as a means to sell books.

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14 Responses to “A Simple Guide to Running a Facebook Page”

  1. On September 7, 2010 at 1:26 pm Tom Evans responded with... #

    Thanks Joanna - just setting one up for my new book Flavours of Thought - this is very timely and invaluable advice

  2. On September 7, 2010 at 2:27 pm Kim Woodbridge responded with... #

    Thanks for the links to my articles - I’m glad they are useful :-) I love your point about being patient because Facebook is quirky - that is so very true …
    Kim Woodbridge´s last blog ..How to Use the Facebook Livestream Application for Static Content and Dynamic CommentsMy ComLuv Profile

  3. On September 8, 2010 at 12:30 am Diana responded with... #

    Thank you, thank you! My FB fan page is just sitting there like a neglected friend. I have no idea what to put on it! I feel so silly having it just sit there. I enjoy others’ pages, I’m just not good at working on mine. But I must!

  4. On September 8, 2010 at 3:20 am Patricia responded with... #

    this is very helpful in just understanding the difference between a page and a post…I am going to come back to see if I can figure this out - because it is understandable for me…Thank you
    simple is great for me
    Patricia´s last blog ..ONE LOVELY BLOG AWARD – THE NEW FOLKSMy ComLuv Profile

  5. On September 8, 2010 at 5:06 am Jens P. Berget responded with... #

    Thanks for sharing. I’m running a Facebook Page, but my problem seems to be that I forget about. I’m not on Facebook every day (I just don’t understand what to do about it, how to separate business and personal stuff), hence I forget to visit my Page and follow up on questions and keep updating it.
    Jens P. Berget´s last blog ..5 Reasons I Love Zappos Without Being A CustomerMy ComLuv Profile

  6. On September 8, 2010 at 12:16 pm Melanie Jongsma responded with... #

    I signed up for Mike Stelzner’s Social Media Success Summit, and it included sessions by Facebook Guru Mari Smith that was very helpful. She has a lot of helpful (free) resources on her website and Facebook page—if you search for her, you’ll find them. Like you said, Joanna, once you have your page set up, you do have to show up there every now and then and be present. That’s what’s hard for me to remember!
    Melanie Jongsma´s last blog ..5 business benefits of hiring a freelancerMy ComLuv Profile

  7. On September 8, 2010 at 2:57 pm Karen Kring responded with... #

    Nice read. Thanks for writing this so I didn’t have to.
    Karen Kring´s last blog ..We Are Skokie- a few of the pictures from the All Skokie Photo ProjectMy ComLuv Profile

  8. On September 8, 2010 at 7:42 pm Elle B responded with... #

    I’ve been wanting to set up an FB page for awhile but have been completely intimidated by all the info out there. Thanks for making it simple and understandable, and especially for including examples.
    Elle B´s last blog ..PD James- From Bureaucrat to Writing RoyaltyMy ComLuv Profile

  9. On September 8, 2010 at 9:42 pm bookfraud responded with... #

    excellent points — now if i only had something i could actually promote on FB, i’d be set.
    bookfraud´s last blog ..More Matter With Less ArtMy ComLuv Profile

  10. On September 11, 2010 at 12:07 am Lucid Glow responded with... #

    I’ve had a page for a year, at least. I still haven’t gone past the initial useless stages. Help!
    Lucid Glow´s last blog ..Review of «the Defenseless» by Amos KepplerMy ComLuv Profile

  11. On September 13, 2010 at 9:56 am Steven@Natural Organic Cosmetics responded with... #

    Many thanks for the tips. Have had a facebook page for sometime now but been unsure as how to use it to build the business side.
    Steven@Natural Organic Cosmetics´s last blog ..Cosmetics- Are They Making You Sick My ComLuv Profile

  12. On September 19, 2010 at 6:58 am Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Thanks everyone, I’m glad the simplicity of this proved useful.

    @ Kim, your resources on FB are first class, thanks for passing on so much of what you’ve learned

    @ Melanie, good point about Mari Smith, she’s definitely the go-to person on FB

    @ Diana, I don’t think you ‘must’! But it can be a good way to connect with folk and help to spread the word, and doesn’t require a huge amount of work once you’re up and running. Remembering to pop into FB and checking is the main thing!



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