2016 Small Business Content Marketing To-Do: Claim Your Facebook Page

Facebook has 1.5B active monthly users
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It’s 2016 and we’ve been getting back to the basics in content marketing. It’s like getting back to the basics of love, but we all know that means a road trip to Luckenbach, Texas.

Today’s post is for those hold-outs–and those who love them–who don’t have a Facebook page for their business yet. If you already have a Facebook business page, give this a skim. You might be missing something.

Feel free to forward to those dinosaurs at the chamber meetings whom you’ve been nagging for years. There’s been so much nagging. We’ve been “shoulding” on each other about so many things. And, I’m sorry, but…

It’s time for Facebook. I’m so so sorry.

Back in 2009–heck even into late 2013–I advised certain clients that they didn’t need Facebook. If everybody jumped off the bridge, does that mean you should, too? No, no it does not.

Believe me, I know the arguments for and against, backward and forward. I’ve danced that dance many times, leading and following. I’ve used FB personally and professionally, on behalf of numerous clients, groups, events, nonprofits, and individual providers.

Like most of us, I suspect, I’m ambivalent at best around Facebook. At worst, I’m existentially plagued by the sign of this beast.

Folks, we’ve not yet reached peak Facebook.

But we have reached the point where not having Facebook is like not having your phone number listed in the yellow pages in 1987.

(Remember 1987? Of course you do. That’s why you’re reading this post. People who weren’t here yet in ’87 have already done the FB; maintained a presence for their parents; and moved on to Snapchat, tumblr, and Instagram.)

Which is to say that, unless you’re a hyper-reclusive celebrity and have already come into your fortunes, you are making it prohibitively difficult to be found when you don’t deign to play along with the Facebook game.

Yes, it’s a game. A great big giant game. Probably a metaphor for life. Whatever.

Metaphors be with you.

And also with you.

Let’s get on with it, then. Trust me…I hate this as much as you do.

Why you need Facebook for your small business in 2016

I have four good reasons you need to be serious about Facebook this year. Let’s dig in.

1. Facebook is a juggernaut

I don’t have easy access to an Oxford English Dictionary these days. (It’s such a tragic piece of post-collegiate life, I mourn it.)

Soooo, let’s all take a look to Wikipedia for the next best in definitions.

Sanskrit Jagannātha (Devanagari जगन्नाथ) “world-lord”

Literally, Lord of the World. Our word juggernaut comes from the ancient Sanskrit for one of the names of God.

The ancient yogis were referring to Krishna, not Zuck, but whatever. In America, when we talk about Masters of the Universe, we’re a durn sight more provincial, a la Tom Wolfe in Bonfire of the Vanities and writing here in the NYT circa the Economic Downturn of 2008.

Facebook enjoys over one-and-a-half billion active monthly users.

That’s about five times more men, women, and children than we count here in the states. And, that’s a planet full of people who have become accustomed to thinking of the Internet as Facebook. And Facebook as the Internet.

Not everybody is going to look for you on Facebook. Just most.

Remember when your Aunt Mildred thought that dial-up AOL was the Internet?

Remember how precious and quaint you thought she was.

We are too young here to be Mildred, kids.

2. What happens when most people look for you on Facebook?

And you’re not bloody there?!

I thought you’d never ask.

Facebook automagically generates a page for you, if you haven’t yet claimed it for your own.

Better and better, they dynamically populate that page with information about your competitors, especially one’s who have Facebook pages, including reviews about them.

Whether you’ve claimed it or not, your FB business page probably* exists.

And it’s promoting your competitors to boot!

* If you have the type of business where people might “check in” when they visit or for which people might search business hours or location–e.g., restaurants, chiropractors, doctor and dentist offices, clinics, brick and mortar storefronts–Facebook will make an “unofficial page” so that those searchers don’t leave the site and go look for you on Google.

An older example

Here’s one I dug up for a post three years ago. (I’ve been wracking my brain for places that don’t have a Facebook page and struggled to find any.)

Automatically Generated FB Unofficial Business Page

The Freezer in Homasassa, Florida, has since fixed this problem. They now have a Facebook business page that does not just show reviews and addresses for their competitors.

A newer example

(This one’s kind of embarrassing, but… What I do for my readers, eh?)

I searched an old flame on FB. He’s a family medicine doctor in a certain city in a certain state. He doesn’t have a personal FB page. I thought I’d be clever and find his business presence–the medical practice. He hasn’t claimed that either.

You can see in this screenshot that I’ve removed all identifiers and left white boxes in their place. (He does not need to know I’ve been looking him up, ok?) Facebook had listed his practice phone number and address, shown it on the map, and listed competitors, one of whom has 43 public ratings with an average of 4.2 stars out of 5.

unofficial FB page for medical practice

Here’s the info box that explains what an “unofficial page” is.
is this your unofficial FB page
You can find out how to remove an unofficial page, straight from the horse’s mouth. The MEDrefer blog offers a whole guide on how to find and fix the automated FB page you didn’t know you had.

*Meanwhile, if you have an online business, you probably already have a Facebook page by now. If not, depending on how big you’ve gotten and how many people search for you on Facebook, you may not have to worry about this particular reason for opening a Facebook page.

All the other reasons are still in play, though. Again, I’m sorry.

Go ahead and check for your own autogen page. I’ll be right here when you come back. Here, take the tissues.

3. Google “values” social signals

For a primer on how social media signals affect SEO, you can see our previous post here.

For an in-depth treatise on the matter, read Stone Temple Consulting’s debrief of Google’s SEO guru Matt Cutts’ answers to the question, “Does Social Media Affect SEO?

4. It’s free-ish

It doesn’t cost anything to open–or claim–your Facebook business page. It doesn’t cost anything to post to it.

Eventually, we’ll talk about what does cost–the ads. Facebook ads are so super-targeted that they’re almost sentient. All the upsides of Skynet and Minority Report. Without all the downside risk of killer robots and such like.

For now, here’s a quick checklist for your new Facebook page:

  • Add a profile photo
  • Add a cover photo
  • Complete the About section, include your website address
  • Invite all your personal friends to like your new page  (After all, what are FB friends for?)
  • Add an employee or two as an admin with all or some privileges, so that they can then invite all of their friends to like the page

In an upcoming post, we’ll look in more detail about how to get started with your new Facebook business page. Now that I’ve convinced you to do it, right?

Right?

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Suzanne Hoenig is a strategist and writer helping small businesses, nonprofits, and private practitioners craft their marketing copy, grow their online and offline community, and navigate the changing tides of social media and digital content marketing.

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