If you aren’t already connected to the social media revolution, it is time to get your head out of the sand and harness the power of the digital network. If you want to get out ahead of your competition and make consumers excited about interacting with your brand, social media is the way to go. It isn’t an overnight marketing fix, it takes time to build a following, but if done correctly you can use social media to drive people to your website and ultimately to your front door. Are you ready?

After building your incredible website and blog, it is time to build a Facebook fan page. Before you run away at the thought of building your page, let me assure you that it is easy to get started, and I am going to walk you through it. But, of course, if you get stuck or need additional help with the more complicated aspects, we’re always here to help. (But I promise; set up is easy.)

The first thing you need in order to create a Facebook fan page is a personal profile. What? You don’t have one yet? Time to get one! I am not going to waste time walking you through profile set up because the steps are pretty self explanatory. Just go to Facebook, fill out the information to get started and let the steps guide you. You can probably set up a basic profile in about 15 minutes. After setting up your personal profile, spend some time poking around Facebook and getting to know the site – have fun. Check out some of your favorite companies’ fan pages and connect with friends.

Now to set up a fan page.

Once you are logged into Facebook, scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Advertising,” and then click “Pages.” There is some great information here about fan pages, so take a moment to read through the information and when you are ready click “Create Page.” As you go through the set-up process, remember that in any branding and marketing it is important to categorize your company in the right area to help people find you. So choose carefully.

One of the great things about Facebook is the ease of set up navigation. From here, setting up a fan page is really about following the prompts. Rather than point out each step, let’s look at the important ones to get your personal branding going.

1) Photo – Before you do anything else, make sure you have the perfect photo for your page. Maybe your logo is the best photo for your page, but maybe not. Think about other branding materials you have, maybe something seasonal. Obviously, you want your fans to see your photo and recognize your brand – that’s the goal. But if you have a creative image that is also recognizable, it might help your fan page attract fans with an element of fun.

2) Write something about your company – See the little box under your picture that says “Write something about your company”. This is very important because this is one of the items that is visible on every tab of your fan page. This is your elevator statement in 250 characters or less. Be sure to include a link to your website here, and in order to make your link clickable, don’t forget the http:// before the www. (Note: this statement can be changed at any time, so it is a great place to highlight a promotíon or other important happening for your company.)

3) Wall Settings – Another important tool in the set up of your page are the wall settings. You have to decide if you want visitors to be able to post messages for everybody to see or if you only want your messages shown. Unless you have a super controversial company, I recommend starting with allowing everything. It will help you build your wall faster because people like to post messages. If the posts become out of control or unflattering, you can always delete individual posts or change the setting later. (You will find “Wall settings” under “Edit page.”)

Once you fill in all of the basic information, you have successfully created a fan page. Don’t forget, it is easy to change, so don’t sweat it.

Now you are ready to take your page live. It is important for you to let people know about your page. This is where having an already active personal profile comes in handy because if you already have a lot of “friends” who are interested in your company, you can “suggest” your new page to them.

Alright you have a page. You have suggested to all of your friends – now what? Now you start the real work. Marketing and branding takes time and attentiveness. You can’t just set up this page and hope people find you. If there is nothing on your page that interests people, no one will become a fan. Social media is fun – your fan page should be too. Post interesting things about your company, but don’t be afraid to post something fun too. Try posting open-ended questions (to entice responses from your fans) such as “What is your favorite XYZ?” “What do you plan to do for the XYZ holiday?

Posting links and/or photos are also a great way to get people interested, plus they are more visually appealing so people are more apt to pay attention. Posting links to your website has the added benefit of pushing people to your site to find out more. Try posting on your fan page every time you update your blog – “Check this out” and attach a link to your blog.

Remember, the most important reason you have a Facebook fan page is to use it as a branding strategy to promote your personal brand. So, if your company is very “green” conscious, share tidbits about being green. If your company is all about marketing and branding (like us), you might post pictures of events, links to blog posts and information about the companies you help brand.

Those are the basic features of a Facebook fan page, but once you get going you will realize that there are many more things you can add to your fan page such as customizable apps, connecting the page to your Twitter feed, and much more. But you can’t do any of the fancy things until you get started with the basics, so for now create your page and start building your fans. Oh, and don’t forget to include a new link on your website to let people know they can become a fan on Facebook.

And that is how you can use Facebook as a branding strategy for your business.

By Lindsay Dicks (c) 2010