Google Has conceptual images for what a Chrome OS-based tablet computer user interface might look like at its open source
For more information about enterprise networking, go to NetworkWorld. Story copyright 2010 Network World Inc. All rights reserved.
David F. Carr, Forbes · Friday, Aug. 27, 2010
After writing a couple of columns about the advantages of creating a Facebook business page, I thought I should tell you how to go about doing so. This won't be a detailed technical tutorial. Some companies are building whole e-commerce storefronts around Facebook's application programming tools, but you can get started much more simply.
You want to get started now, so you can capture your business "username"--a short address like www.facebook.com/carrcomm that you feature on business cards, brochures or your e-mail signature. Some marketing experts believe capturing your Facebook page name (along with your Twitter URL) is proving almost as important as capturing your Internet domain name (See "The Facebook Opportunity" and "How Facebook Changes Marketing and Sales").
The first three things to do are the simplest:
--Register your page.
--Invite friends and customers to "Like" the page (register to get your updates).
--Secure a unique page username.
No. 2 is a prerequisite for No. 3 because Facebook will not let you establish a username until you have a minimum number of people register. At this writing, you need 25 Facebook fans. And just like with dot-com domains, you want to secure the name that's the best match for your brand before someone else gets it.
A Facebook page is also known as a "fan page" because until the Like button came along, Facebook asked people to click a button saying they wanted to "become a fan" of a page. Although it looks much like a personal profile, a page for a business, nonprofit, political campaign or other organization has different ground rules. An individual can only have 5,000 online friends, but that limit does not apply to a page. And where "friends" have to be approved individually, Facebook's Like button functions more like the "Follow" function on Twitter, where no such approval is required. A Facebook page is also a natural destination for any Facebook advertising campaigns you may choose to run.
Step 1. Create A Facebook Page
Since Facebook changes its page layout and menus on a regular basis, the quickest way to get to the form for registering your page is to follow this link:
Note that it's important that you do this yourself, or have it done by someone you trust implicitly. Whoever creates the page is registered as the owner of the page. That is, the ultimate right to modify or delete the page will be associated with that individual's personal Facebook login. After the account is set up, you should assign administrator rights to other users, so no single person becomes a bottleneck.
Facebook asks you to identify your page with one of three broad categories:
--Brand, product or organization
--Artist, band or public figure
Give some care to the selection, particularly between "local business" and "brand, product or organization," because you won't be able to change it later. Categorizing your business as local might be an advantage if you want this page to show up in regional directories. But if you sell nationally, you may want to identify yourself as a brand. Before you decide, also study the drop-down list under each category to see the best match for you. Some options that are available under local business are not shown under brand, and vice versa.
After choosing your category, give your page a name and check the box that says you are authorized to create a page for this brand or organization.
You will then be taken to the basic page template, a blank Facebook profile for your business. Follow the onscreen instructions to customize the page. Then create a few starter messages before you start inviting people in, so there will be something there for them to Like.
Step 2. Get Your Facebook Friends To "Like" You
Now, it's time to Like your own page, invite in friends, family and colleagues to populate it, and then start spreading the word more broadly. Click on the "Suggest to Friends" link to call up the dialog box for inviting people who are in your existing personal network.
Because you haven't yet secured your Facebook page username, your page will have a long messy Web address, but you can still put it in an e-mail and send it out to customers you're not personally connected with on Facebook. Once 25 or more people sign up for your page, you're ready to move on to the next step.
Step 3. Set The Facebook "Username" For Your Page.
In Facebook terminology, you can set a "username" for either a personal profile or a page. You set this by going here:
Facebook first displays the option for setting the username for your personal profile. If you haven't done that yet, you might want to do it now, as a way of building your personal brand.
There's a separate link on the same page for setting a username for a page. This will display a drop-down list of any pages you have registered.
If you try to do this before racking up those 25 Likes, you'll get a message saying your page "is not eligible for a username at this time." If your page is eligible, Facebook will display a data entry field where you can type in the desired page username and click "Check Availability."
If the username you want is not already taken, you will then get a chance to lock it in. Think carefully before you do so, because you won't be able to change it later, you're not allowed to transfer it to someone else, and you can't infringe on anyone else's trademark. Essentially, Facebook is trying to avoid getting into all the complications associated with domain name registration and ownership disputes--although these will doubtless arise anyway.
Enhancing Your Page
Now that you've established a home for your online identity on Facebook, you can start enhancing it. You can do a lot with the built-in tools, such as The Wall for your page. There are also many options you can configure within the basic setup, before you get fancy.
The initial setup includes a few default page tabs, including Wall, Info, Photos, Discussion and Reviews. There are others you can readily add, such as a tab for videos, and you can also go shopping for applications, created by Facebook or independent developers, that will add more tabs to your page. For example, if you're an independent consultant, you might want to add a tab displaying your LinkedIn profile. And if you want to get more ambitious, you can create your own custom tabs, or hire a Web developer to create them for you.
But probably the first thing you want to do is start a conversation with your customers and maybe announce a special offer or two, which is no harder than posting a status message.
David F. Carr is Forbes' columnist on technology for small to midsize businesses. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more: http://www.financialpost.com/smallbusiness/C