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Should Your Blog Be on Facebook?: The Nuts and Bolts of Fan Pages

In our recent parenting blogger roundtable, Mommy Man author Jerry Mahoney said, on using social networks in conjunction with a…

In our recent parenting blogger roundtable, Mommy Man author Jerry Mahoney said, on using social networks in conjunction with a blog:

Not promoting your blog is like renting a theater to stage your one-man show and then refusing to put up flyers because you don’t want anyone to show up.

There are folks who use blogs purely as online diaries, but most of us hope for a readership — and social networks are a way to find and grow one. Today, we’re focusing on Facebook. Should you create a Facebook fan page for your blog? How? And what do you do once you have it?

Why create a Facebook fan page?

You already read and comment on others’ blogs and share some of your own posts on your personal Facebook page. Is creating a separate page worthwhile? It can be — it offers capabilities that a personal page doesn’t, and lets you use the “networking” part of “social networking” to engage new readers. A few of the perks:

  • No limit on fans. A personal page caps your friends at 5,000 — not usually a problem for purely personal use, but  an issue  when your blog starts to take off. (We’re pretty sure it will; you seem great.)
  • More statistics to obssess over work with. Fan pages offer analytics (Facebook calls them “insights”) that let you see which posts are most viewed and shared, along with basic demographic data about your fans. You can use these just like WordPress.com stats, to help you create blog content that speaks to your readers.
  • A place to share one-off thoughts and links. Those quick ideas or links that you’d like to share, but wouldn’t write a whole post about? Now they’ve got a home. Ditto for things readers want to share with you, but which don’t necessarily have a place in your comments.
  • Expanded conversations. Sure, you want to foster engagement on your blog and maintain a lively comment section. But if you want to foster other conversations, Facebook’s discussion tools give you a place to do that. Maybe one of your knitting blog readers wants a sock pattern that you don’t have. It might be odd for them to ask on an unrelated post, but they can ask on Facebook and get several responses — and you get a great idea for a sock post, which ultimately brings more people to your blog. Win-win!
  • Networking, networking, networking. We take our friends’ recommendations seriously. When your best friend Sue follows your blog’s fan page, all her friends see that — and they’ll come check you out now that you have Sue’s imprimatur. You can also comment on other friends’ and blogs’ content as your blog instead of yourself, generating more exposure. Rather than waiting for people to discover you, you’re actively making connections among those likely to become readers.

A fan page also gives you a place to share your blog posts and related content without feeling like you’re spamming friends and family; you can more easily keep your personal life and blog life separate.

We’re not shilling for Facebook here, though. Creating a fan page isn’t a non-stop path to viral success, and there’s a notable downside: it’s work. If all you do with your page is share your blog posts, it’s not going to get you very far. A successful fan page needs a content plan, just like your blog does, along with regular tending. You’ll also have lots of readers who don’t use Facebook, and building a vibrant community there could leave them out of interesting conversations.  Maybe you don’t use Facebook, and don’t want to — totally fine, concentrate your time and energy on mediums you enjoy spending time with.

Still, if reader growth is a goal, fan pages have a role to play. If you’re already a member of Facebook, adding a fan page for your blog can be an effective way to supplement your other activity in the blogosphere.

If you build it, they will come

You could create an account for your blog the way you did for yourself, but then you don’t get to take advantage of all the perks of fan pages. Instead, you’ll create a page — you’ll be the administrator and will access it through your personal account, but it’ll be a totally separate entity and won’t display your personal info.

Creating a page also allows people to like or follow it without having at add it as a “friend,” which can seem like too much commitment. A like is less of an investment on their part, and keeps you from hearing the dreaded, “I just need some space… it’s not you, it’s me.”

To get started, head to the Create a Page page, which looks like this:

facebook page

Pick “Brand or Product” — yes, you’re a brand — and select “website” from the drop down menu that appears. A setup wizard will walk you through adding info about your blog; you’ll want your great “About” copy, your URL, and a logo or picture. You can also add links to other social network profiles, to help fans find your Twitter feed or Pinterest boards. Once you’re done filling in the info, click “save.” Facebook will create the page and deposit you there. Any time you log in to your personal account, you’ll see a link to your page in the navigation on the left.

(Well, it’s on the left for now. You know Facebook.)

custom urlWhen you’re on your fan page, you’ll see a bunch of admin tools on the top and the page content below. Take some time to click around the admin tools; there are lots of handy tooltips to get you started. You’ll also see this (left) — once your page has 25 fans, you can claim a custom URL, so your fan page’s web address can be

http://www.facebook.com/myawesomeblog

instead of

http://www.facebook.com/pages/something-kinda-like-your-blog-name-987654321.

Way easier to remember, and looks much better on a Moo card.

Your blog has a fan page. Now what?

As the old social networking riddle asks, “If you build a Facebook fan page and no one likes it, does it still grow your traffic?”

No, it doesn’t. (It’s a pretty crappy riddle.) Your page needs (1) content and (2) fans.

To start with, share a few of your blog posts to the page, and add a little “Hello!” message so your company isn’t sitting on cardboard boxes when they come for tea. Now, start rustling up fans with those most likely to like you: your friends, family, and existing readers. Share the link to your new fan page on your blog — try announcing it in a text widget if you don’t want to dedicate a post to it, or just add the Facebook Like widget — and invite your existing Facebook friends to like the page (the admin tools have a wizard for doing that, which lets you select which friends to invite).

Now that the fan ball is rolling, you can leave that to grow organically as fans like and share your content… so you’ll need some of that. You’ll want to share new blog posts to the page (you can set up Publicize to do that automatically), but that shouldn’t be all — if the fan page does nothing but promote your posts, there’s little point for anyone to follow it. In addition to posts, you’ll want to add other content, like:

  • Other bloggers’ posts — there’s nothing like sharing the love, and promoting others’ good work ultimately brings people to you, too.
  • Random funny, interesting, or provocative links. Your fan page becomes valuable when you curate, helping fans weed through the swampland of the internet to find the goodies. Links and posts with great images are especially shareable.
  • Questions. If there’s one thing people enjoy doing on Facebook, it’s sharing opinions. You might not want to run a poll on your blog, but asking questions on Facebook is a good way to get people to engage and to get feedback on what your readers are interested in.
  • Status updates. Are you on round three of the DIY project you’re planning to blog next week? Are you headed to the movies to see the next film you’ll review? Did you just spend 15 minutes trying to remember the word “conundrum”?Keep fans up to date and share blog-related glimpses into your life.

You don’t need to do all of this every day; doing that is a good way to drive fans away, as you flood their Facebook feeds. But posting a few times a day, with a mix of blog posts and other related content, turns your fan page into a supplement to your blog — another place readers can come for good content.

In the end, building an engaging fan page helps you as a blogger — you’re not creating an alternative to your blog, you’re creating a feeder tool that funnels you readers and post content. Maybe you’ll realize that the last few links you shared would make a great roundup or post topic, or conversations with fans will open new avenues of thinking. It takes work to maintain a strong page, but in the end, the Facebook page should grow your readership, help you create more and better content, and ultimately boost your blog.

If you’ve already got a fan page, we’d love to hear about how it helped your blog (or not)! For more on promoting your blog via Facebook, check out Copyblogger’s excellent resource guide to Facebook marketing.

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  1. Thank you. I have all my friends and family right now wandering what’s going on because I confused a personal page with a fan page. This helps a lot. So here I go. Look for it soon.

  2. I’ve had a page on my FB for my blog for over a year and it’s been pretty slow going getting “LIKES”. However the analytics are extremely helpful. I can see for instance that though one of my posts only gets 2 likes, FB stats will tell me that 100+ people have looked at it.

  3. This has been suggested to me by several people. It’s just I’m having enough trouble keeping up with my blog, here … and really wonder if that wouldn’t simply bury me, never to be seen again. It is definitely worth thinking about. I do use all the “publicize functions” and they do help a lot … I’m just not sure I’m up the the additional, well, work.

    1. In that case, I’d probably skip creating one — it should be an extension of and tool to help you blog, not a chore that takes you away from what you really want to be publishing.

  4. After about a year and 7 months of putting myself out there as a blogger, I’m still at the beginning stages so if I create a fan page for myself, I’d feel as if I’d be tooting my own horn lol.

  5. I have recently been trying to revamp my blog’s Facebook page, and these tips gave me some excellent direction. I have a hard time walking the line between being spammy and being mayor of a ghost town, but it seems like the more informed work you put into your Facebook page, the more you get out of it. People want to be engaged, and you just have to know how best to curate your material to the Facebook audience.

    Great post.

  6. I created a Facebook page for my cooking blog, and even though it’s not technically viral, I do have one recipe that’s has over 1,000 views. Not bad, considering I haven’t businessed-up the blog (no advertising on it).

  7. Thanks! I’ve been hesitant to create a FB page because though I want traffic, I don’t necessarily want my tiny town and of course, my mother reading and analyzing and questioning me on everything I write! Lord have mercy. The instructions are helpful in case I decide to be brave.

  8. Thanks for this informative post. I’ve been resisting linking facebook to my blog because my blog is too personal in nature. It’s read by hundreds of strangers, but I would feel uncomfortable advertising it to all of my friends and colleagues. What I didn’t realize is that a blog FB page can perform as a separate entity from my personal page. I might try it out. Thanks again.

  9. For me – FB fan pages just don’t grow on their own. It’s easy to get followers by advertising with FB, though. Some of that does flow back to the blog.
    Even with daily posts and 5000 + fans it grows very slowly.

    I have found that Google Plus is exploding. There are a lot of artist and a lot of followers and it seems like it get new fans and new growth all the time. This is now the main funnel to my blog. On G+ I just a personal account. Because there is not limit to the number of people that can follow you a personal account works just fine.

    1. G+ is fascinating; I know people who have cultivated really robust communities there, and people for whom it’s like shouting into the abyss. I’m interested to see how it develops and if it becomes a more niche service, the way MySpace was for musicians.

  10. I connect only with regular readers with my personal facebook account – that provides a platform for meaningful two-way conversations. I feel, FB page is more like a one-way conversation that is more suitable for big companies & brands. It works well with niche blogs, but not so well with personal blogs (my experience).

    1. I think there’s truth to that, although if you write a personal blog that consistently touches on some themes (parenting, job hunting, health, whatever), then you have the basis for and could gain from a fan page.

  11. The alternative to facebook pages is that you can allow people to follow your profile too. It brings up it’s own messy alternatives, and doesn’t give the same analytics, but it means people can follow what you do.

  12. Great Post. I’ve recently started a blog (http://insatiabledr.wordpress.com/), I’ve made a Twitter account (@insatiabledr) and an Instagram account (insatiable_dr), since the blog is about restaurants reviews in Santo Domingo, DR I thought maybe being more visual will help. I want to be in all social networks including FB but I don’t know if I can keep up with all the posting (I work full time). which of all social network do you think I should be in or which account should I keep?

    1. I think a lot of that depends on your topic and community — I’ve had a personal blog that did so-so at generating engagement via Twitter, and an organizational blog that went nowhere fast on Facebook but created interest on Twitter regularly. I’d probably dip my toes into each, see which felt better, and focus on that one first.

    2. But to backtrack for a moment — actually, I’d probably spend my time making my blog awesome, and reaching out socially as it grows. Create a good foundation first, then accessorize.

  13. Been thinking about doing this for awhile, and this post was the prompt that finally got me to do it. So thank you, or curse you, for this. Time will tell. :-)

  14. “You’ll want to add other content, like… Random funny, interesting, or provocative links. Your fan page becomes valuable when you curate, helping fans weed through the swampland of the internet to find the goodies.” – Love this perspective, of using FB as a place to curate content. I do that a little bit on my page, but never looked at it that way. Like @APoeticTragedy above, I prefer Twitter, and Facebook seems cumbersome to me comparatively. Approaching my page as a curator will make it a lot more fun. Thanks so much for the ideas!

  15. My blog is publicized automatically in the Facebook and I am starting to have followers. I will play around in setting up a page just for the fans. Thank you.

    1. It’s less about creating a separate identity, and more about creating a supplement/feeding ground for the blog — give some of the ideas in the post a try, and see what happens.

  16. I would, but I don’t want my friends and family reading my blog, hence the handle I use instead of my real name. From what I hear, Facebook has a “real name only” policy.

    Also, screw Facebook. I’d definitely use it for business promotional purposes, but beyond that, eh.

  17. I’m not a parenting blogger but I made sure to put my two week old sneaker blog on a fb page, even though its just likes now I know in the long run it helps the blog look more developed, looks like I did pay attention in my Public Relations courses at GMU

  18. I think I’m going to create a Facebook page once I reach 5,000 views – I like working with the statistics! I think it’s a great idea for friends/family to keep your blog separate to your own personal account as some people may not even be interested in it… and of course it helps others to find it! Here’s hoping all goes well… I guess it’s also about having the confidence! It took me up until my 30th post to share my blog with Facebook friends – then one day I just decided it was time! Have fun everyone x
    http://happinessinacupcake.wordpress.com

  19. so basically money is the root to making the facebook “extension” successful. you can gain people through the free route but it seems an investment is almost completely necessary. very interesting post on the topic. thanks for breakdown!

  20. I have a FB fan page. It’s slow. I’m selective with who I let know about my blog FB page, as far as my FB friends go. I’ve got lots of ‘gratuitous FB friends’ – students, parents, etc, who I do not really want to read my blog. So, I’m still figuring out how to invite the FB friend I wouldn’t mind reading it. I just feel like it will show up on their feed ‘(so and so just like ______), and I just don’t want my students over there! So, I’m playing with it. But I love the idea of quotes, links, pins, etc- definitely stuff I don’t want to devote a blog post too, but keeps it lively and interesting.

  21. this was really helpful, thankx – i think i do most of that stuff – this is my page here – https://www.facebook.com/IrresistiblyFish – have found it adds the supplementary people that don’t necessarily connect directly to your blog but because of Facebook friends and by sharing inspirational quotes [can not lower myself to using cat pictures/videos - a sure winner] and other articles it helps invite some new people who will hopefully browse the aisles so to speak and end up on my blog… picked up one or two ‘tricks’ to try from here so looking forward to the progress…

    much thankx
    brett fish

  22. Thank you for the informative post…it’s nice to have a list of pros to do a reality check against my cons. Just can’t get past Facebook’s privacy policies to justify creating a page – unlike WordPress, which is more user-friendly.

    1. There are definitely reasons other that the time investment to avoid Facebook. Luckily, there are plenty of other ways (like participating here!) to spread the word :)

  23. Wow, what perfect timing! I’ve just been thinking about whether I should make a Facebook page for my blog. I just need to figure out what to do, as I have two (kind of related) blogs. Do I do two pages? Or one page for both, and if so, what do I call it?

    1. I think it depends on how related they are, and how much the readerships/intended audiences overlap. If could be a useful way create a flow of readers between both sites, or it could end up being too diluted.

  24. a facebook page would be such a great idea to add to may blog. I am waiting on a new lense I ordered so that I can add great photos for any readers I might have

    1. Can you say a little more about what you want to do? Do you want people to be able to comment using their Facebook login, or do you want a way for people to share your posts to FB?

      1. Hi Michelle,
        I already know how to enable people to share my posts to FB, but what about that people to be able to comment using their FB login ? i looked in the link i mentioned before but can’t understand what i should do for it.
        Thanks,
        Orit

  25. This post came just in time for me… I had just created my facebook page for my blog 4 days ago. So far, it has been mostly friends and family who like it. I had announced it on my blog the moment I have created. And seems like most readers find following the blog sufficient and no need for liking a facebook page. Is this really so? I find maintaining a facebook page is a supplement to my blog but I have to be prepared to spend almost equal time in managing it for it to succeed. Lots of work to do here! It’s my new baby and am still figuring out how to get my likes. Thanks for this post and thanks for telling me I can create vanity URL now!

  26. Great post. The tips are really good. publicity is very important in blogging, just like you said, who would want to present a show that nobody would watch. The fan page can be likened to the fliers we use for publicity. I appreciate this!

  27. My experience is that images gain about twice as many views as a post with a blog link. It seems immediacy is very important, and fans don’t necessarily want to leave FB to read a blog.

  28. Good thoughts, spurred me on to link to Twitter. Can you please look at my page and give me insight into why my Follow Me on Twitter link won’t show up in my sidebar, upstairsproductions.wordpress.com

  29. I’ve been thinking about a FB page for mine, but like someone else said, I’m not sure if I’m up for the extra work. I tweet links and sometimes update on Twitter; I’m still a bit unsure about FB. Thanks for the post: good advice and a few more things to think about before I bury myself under another thing :)

  30. Thanks for the tips. I am quite wary of facebook – and am waiting for them to permanently delete my personal account before setting up one for my blog. For some reason it is really hard to delete a facebook account if you once had one. I find twitter great though, and use it systematically.

  31. I’ve got both facebook and Twitter for my blog (slowly trying to grow both) and find that what I post on FB is rarely what I post to Twitter and vice versa. Facebook’s great for the visuals, and it seems that people are more prepared to click through to a post from FB rather than with Twitter, where it seems more a case of scanning tweets.