Ready to put your business on Facebook? Your first step is to create a Facebook Page, the tool Facebook created specifically for businesses. You may have heard of Groups, Places, or Events, but Pages are where it all starts.

Facebook Pages (sometimes called “fan pages”) give businesses, organizations, and brands a channel to reach Facebook’s more than 500 million users. They’re like a profile page for businesses, but they also serve as a publishing platform, and come with a suite of tools essential for building an ongoing relationship with today’s social media-savvy consumers.

Follow these steps to get started.

1. Choose a Page Type

To create and manage a Facebook Page, you’ll need a personal account to sign in to. If you don’t have one, it’s easy to set up — just go to facebook.com for instructions. Once that’s done you can proceed.

Head to Facebook’s Page creation site and as pictured above you’ll be presented with images representing different pages types:

  • “Local Business or Place”
  • “Company, Organization, or Institution”
  • “Brand or Product”
  • “Artist, Band or Public Figure”
  • “Entertainment”
  • “Cause or Topic”

Choose the one that best suits your purposes and enter the basic info — usually just a name and a category, but more detail is required for the “Local Business or Place” Page type. As soon as you’ve entered that info, click “Create Page” and the Page will be created instantly. You’ll be taken straight there.

2. Add Images and Information

Your Page starts out very bare, so you’ll have to flesh it out so would-be fans know what they’re seeing when they arrive.

The first step is to add an image — consider this necessary, because many Facebook users don’t take Pages without images very seriously.

You’ll notice that your page is divided into three tabs — “Get Started,” “Wall,” and “Info,” as seen in the image above. There’s also a plus sign you can click to add new tabs. The “Get Started” tab is there to show you up front all the things you need to do to get your Page up and running, including adding an image, which appears as the top option.

Click it, then choose a file from your computer’s hard drive. This is preferably a colorful, eye-catching photo of your business or product, but a logo works too.

To add and manage additional photos, click the plus sign by the tabs, then choose to add a Photos tab. You’ll find the necessary tools there.

Now you should add some basic information to your page. Just go to the Info tab, then click “Edit Information.” The kind of information you can enter depends on what type of Page you created, and it’s divided into “Basic Info” and “Detailed Info” sections. You might as well fill out both while you’re here.

Once you’ve added all the information you want to add, click “Save Changes” and you’re good to move on.

3. Promote Your Page

The final step in setting up a Facebook Page is actually getting people to “Like” it!

When they do this, they subscribe to any updates you publish in the future, which will appear on their Facebook home page.

Also, each time they Like a Page, that Page’s name comes up in on the home pages of all their friends, too — but just that one time.

We’ll talk about two ways to gain fans from within Facebook in this article, but in others we’ll cover some more advanced techniques, such as promoting your Facebook Page on your website or through other social media websites.

The first way is simply to invite your existing Facebook friends to Like the Page. You can do this from the “Getting Started” tab under “Invite your friends,” or you can do it at any time by clicking on “Suggest to Friends,” one of the links on the left directly beneath your Page’s main image.

Both links do the same thing; they pop up a list of your friends. You can either type a name, or just click on a portrait, to select someone to invite. Pick everyone you think would be interested, then click “Send Recommendations.” Note that it’s important not to spam friends with invites they would not be interested in, so don’t do that if you don’t want your brand to get a bad rap.

You can also share your Page with people who aren’t your Facebook friends by importing a contact list from your e-mail or webmail application.

This option also appears under “Getting Started” — it’s called “Tell Your Fans.” Click the “Import Contacts” button to get started.

The window that pops up gives you two options; you can either import a contacts file from a desktop mail application like Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird (or from your LinkedIn account), or you can log in to your Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail account and import contacts from there.

Choose the option you prefer, and you’ll get to pick contacts to notify just like you could with the recommendations for Facebook friends.

Now What?

Stay tuned for guides to further enhancing your Page, promoting it in new places, posting updates that will engage customers and fans, and using Facebook’s Insights tool to track how well your Page is performing.

And if you have any questions or tips of your own, let us know in the comments!

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