With 25% of all internet time spent on Facebook, it is a powerful digital media marketing tool for local brands. It’s also a free word-of-mouth engine as conversation and sharing are at the heart of the platform.

With more than 675,000 adults in the Durham area currently using Facebook and more than 4.6 million users in North Carolina as a whole, not having a brand presence on Facebook means missing out on a huge opportunity to reach potential customers.

Changes to Facebook brand pages happening on March 30 puts brands in a better position to use the network as a free marketing tool.

Here are a few ways to optimize local Facebook brand pages to increase engagement and brand awareness.

Use Engaging Images

The most important images on your Facebook brand page, under the new timeline format, are the cover photo and the profile image.

Your cover photo should represent the essence of your brand and showcase your product or service. It is a 851 X 315 pixel image used across the top of your brand page.

Your profile image should be your brand logo. Use an image that can scale from 180X180 to 32X32 pixels. This image will be used throughout Facebook in news feed stories, ads and sponsored stories.

Use images when posting updates to your Facebook page. Photos engage users on Facebook more than any other type of content. According to a Facebook internal study, posts with a photo gallery or image yield 2X more engagement.

Promote Your Facebook Page

Whether it be in your business office, on your products, on your website or via your other social networks, promote your business’s Facebook page wherever you can.

Make it easy for customers to remember your Facebook Page name by using a short, custom URL slug for your page address (for example: http://facebook.com/creativityloft). 

Try to keep this URL slug the same as what you use on Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. to make it easy to remember.

Talk Local & Talk Current Events

Because the conversion for pages puts the timeline front-and-center on Facebook pages, “tabs” lose some of their effectiveness, as you won’t have the ability to set a canvas tab as your default landing tab.

This makes the conversation on Facebook most important – which is Facebook’s mission.

Spark conversation and increase the “virality” of your page by talking not only about your company and your industry, but also local news and current events as appropriate.

Respond & Interact

Responding to and interacting with users on Facebook helps customers and potential customers feel connected to your brand. 

With the new Facebook timeline update, brands can now have the option of responding directly to fans. This enables companies to respond to customer service issues directly and gives customers a more personalized and private communication method on Facebook.

Highlight Brand Milestones & Content

With the new Facebook page update, local companies can highlight business milestones that give customers a better sense of the brand’s history.

The new timeline format also allows brands to highlight or feature large post update formats and pin posts to the top of their brand pages for increased exposure for important content.

Before March 30, Facebook page admins can preview and edit what their page will look like with the timeline format. Below are a few resources to help you prepare for the change.

Resources for optimizing your brand’s Facebook page

Creativity Loft’s Facebook Page Timeline Resources list : http://creativityloft.com/2012/03/free-new-facebook-page-timeline-tutorial-downloads-and-videos-everything-you-need-to-know/

Facebook Pages Product Guide : http://ads.ak.facebook.com/ads/FacebookAds/Pages_Product_Guide_022812.pdf

Facebook Page Timeline Interactive Tutorial : http://www.learnfacebookpages.com/


About the Guest Blogger: Tivi Jones is a business consultant with Creativity Loft (http://creativityloft.com), a digital media marketing agency and resource blog for brands looking to use and conquer digital media. On March 28, she’ll be teaching a class on using social media for local businesses as part of  Chamber U.

Stats by Facebook, Social Bakers, PRDaily