May 4, 2013

How to Set Up a Facebook Fan Page to Promote Your Blog

Profile shown on Thefacebook in 2005
Profile shown on Thefacebook in 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I detest Facebook, but I cannot argue with its utility in helping to drive traffic to Atheist Revolution. There are simply too many people using Facebook to ignore it as part of a comprehensive social media strategy. In this post, I am going to give you some tips on how to set up a page in Facebook to promote your blog. Facebook pages can be used to promote all sorts of things - even people - but I am focusing on their use to promote your blog.

Some bloggers use Facebook effectively to interact with readers, get ideas for blog posts, and all sorts of other things. That's fine, but I am not going to address any of that here. As I said, I am focusing solely on the goal of driving traffic to your blog. I am assuming that this is the main thing you are hoping to accomplish. To the degree that you have other goals for Facebook, you will want to adapt some of what I will suggest.

How Facebook Fits Into Your Social Media Strategy

Picture a large funnel. Your blog sits at the narrow end. Social media services (e.g., Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, Facebook) sit around the rim of the large end. Their primary utility lies in their ability to send visitors to your blog. A good tweet, pin, or post brings visitors to your blog. A great one is shared by your followers/fans to bring even more visitors to your blog. Facebook is merely one point along the rim of that funnel.

If you are not crazy about the funnel metaphor, you can think of Facebook as a means by which people interested in your blog can keep up with your work. Some people will subscribe via email or RSS; others will prefer to do so with Facebook. Your goal is to make it easy for them to do so. This is why you need a presence on the big social media platforms (i.e., to give the people who use those platforms an opportunity to connect with your blog).

Setting Up a Facebook Page For Your Blog

Because Facebook is constantly changing their design (and almost always for the worse), I can only describe how this works at present. The following instructions will assume that you have a personal Facebook account and that you are logged into it.

You should see a small downward pointing arrow on the far right of the Facebook menu at the top of your screen. Pulling down this menu will reveal "Create Page." Facebook will then present you with six options about the kind of page you want to create. Which one you select for your blog does not matter much, but I'd recommend "Brand or Product." You will then need to choose a category. You will find "Website" toward the bottom of the list, and this is what you want.

Now here is the really important part. In setting up your page, give it the same name as your blog. My blog is named Atheist Revolution, and my Facebook page is named Atheist Revolution. Why is this so important? Branding. You are promoting your brand with this page. In selecting your profile picture and cover image, use something that will be instantly recognizable to readers of your blog (e.g., your logo, your color scheme, your avatar). Again, this is about consistent branding. You want this page to be associated with your blog and not mistaken for anything else.

Using Your Facebook Page

Once your new Facebook page is set up, you want to make sure that buttons or at least a link to it are added to your blog so that visitors can see how to find it on Facebook. I suggest that you also write a blog post announcing your new Facebook fan page. It gives your current readers another way to get your content (and hopefully share it with their Facebook friends).

As for what you actually do on your Facebook fan page, that's easy. You post links to your blog posts. You can do this manually by copying and pasting the URL of your blog post into the status field of your Facebook page. There are also a few ways of making this automatic so that every time you publish a new post on your blog it appears on your Facebook page without you having to do anything.

What you are hoping for now are two outcomes:
  1. People who see your post summaries on Facebook (when you post a URL, Facebook only shows the meta description of the post) will click on the link to read the full post on your blog, and
  2. People who have read your post will click the "Like" button in Facebook and/or share your post with their friends on Facebook.
The One Big Problem With Using Facebook to Promote Your Blog

There is plenty to hate about Facebook, but when we are talking about driving traffic to your blog, one stands out from the rest. Most of your Facebook fans will never see most of the content (including your blog posts) that you post you your fan page. Facebook has not been able to come up with an effective business model for how to make money with their service, and their current effort involves trying to trick you into paying to promote your posts. I believe they are now calling this "Boost Post," but I am sure they will try something else when that continues to fail miserably.

The idea is that only a small fraction of your fans will see your content unless you pay exorbitant fees to push it to them. I have seen several reviews of the service aimed and businesses that would have the sort of money to do this on a regular basis, and the verdict seems to be that it is not even remotely cost effective.

There are three partial solutions, none of which actually resolves the problem but which might make you feel better:
  1. Persuade as many of your Facebook fans as possible to add your fan page to their "Interests List" rather than just liking your page. For those who do so, your content will be more visible, but good luck getting more than a few people to do this.
  2. Hope that lots of people click "Like" on your posts. This seems to make them somewhat more visible, but is something else you have little control over.
  3. Hope that lots of people share your post with their friends. Again, this can help, but you don't have any control over it.
Limitations aside, a Facebook page can be an effective way to drive traffic to your blog and requires little effort to set up and maintain.