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Start: Mark Evans

Should your company have a Facebook page? Add to ...

I have previously written about the importance of having a good corporate website, given it is increasingly the way potential customers learn about who you are and what your company does.

It is one of the reasons I'm seeing many companies decide to refresh or overhaul their sites. Putting your best foot forward digitally is something that needs to happen.

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Another digital option many companies have embraced or are exploring is setting up a Facebook page.

These are different from personal pages on Facebook as they offer different features and functionality.

Facebook pages have become popular as a way for companies to establish a stronger presence on Facebook and, at the same, engage with the fast-growing Facebook population.

Since Facebook pages were introduced in late 2007, more than three million have been created by large and small companies.

The ability to easily update Facebook pages with fresh content - photos, videos, status updates, polls, etc. - make them a good complement to corporate websites, which, for the most part, are fairly static. The combination of a Facebook page and a corporate website can provide a company with a solid one-two digital punch to meet the different needs of consumers.

An important consideration in deciding whether to launch a Facebook page is to recognize that it will need a steady flow of content to provide users with reasons to visit on a regular basis. It doesn't make sense to create, but not regularly update. You might as well stick to having a website that is updated every so often.

A Facebook page can be a great way to build a community and engage with users. As well, it can be customized to provide additional functionality. Using Facebook Markup Language ( FBML), software developers can build all kinds of applications within customized Facebook tabs.

These tabs can be as simple as a "Welcome" that providers visitors with a quick snapshot of a company and the other features available on its Facebook page. They can also be much more robust so that companies can, for example, offer e-commerce within Facebook. On their Facebook pages, Delta Air Lines Inc. allows consumers to purchase airline tickets and check in for flights, while Starbucks Corp. makes it easy for people to top up their Starbucks cards.

Last week, Facebook introduced several well-received upgrades to its pages that make them much easier to manage. This makes the option of creating a page even more interesting.

Even though a Facebook page offers a lot of features and functionality, it should not replace a company website as a way to provide people with corporate information. Both have important roles to play.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is a principal with ME Consulting , a content and social media strategic and tactical consultancy that creates and delivers 'stories' for companies looking to capture the attention of customers, bloggers, the media, business partners, employees and investors. Mark has worked with three start-ups - Blanketware, b5Media and PlanetEye - so he understands how they operate and what they need to do to be successful. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshUniversity and meshmarketing conferences.



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