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Optimize Your Facebook Business Page Description: An Excerpt from “31 Days to An Awesome Facebook Page”

Some of you may know that I am working on a book “31 Days to An Awesome Facebook Page”. I’ve been making progress, although it’s been slow. Last week I completely rewrote a page of the book because of an email conversation I was having. I won’t show you the old version, since I think it’s pretty terrible. But I will show you what I rewrote. I think it does a much better job of explaining the importance of the Facebook Page description and what you should accomplish with it. I’d like to get your opinion, though. If you think something should be added or taken out, let me know in the comments at the end of this blog post.

None of the text below has been edited. I wrote it on the fly, so please excuse any typos, misspellings, etc. Also, please note that this may not be the final version which will appear in the book. 

How important is your Facebook Page description? While I can’t tell you how many people will read it, I can tell you that it might be the deciding factor in whether someone Likes your page or even decides to do business with your company. A description of your company will not only tell your customers why they should Like your Page (don’t forget your compelling reason here) but it will also answer the question “Why should I care?” Your Facebook Page description can also aid you in being found when customers search for your services. So, optimizing it for this is a good idea.

Action for Today: Rewrite Your Facebook Page Description According To The Steps Below.

 So how do you write a Facebook Page description? The first thing you need to do is grab any “about” language you already have. This can usually be found on your home or about us page on your website.

Using your website “about us” or home page blurb is a good place to start for your Facebook Page description. However, most of these are filled with stiff, formal writing and take way too long to tell what your services actually are. They also, might not include all your services. If you have some text you can work with, then grab that and put it in your favorite word processing program. Read through it, speaking it out loud. Put yourself in your customer’s or potential customer’s shoes. Does it sound like something that would explain clearly, and in a conversational tone what you do? If not, then your job is to make it sound that way. This could take a while, so strap in.

Stiff Formal Language to Look For

  • Using the name of your business instead of “we” or “us”. It’s okay to use it a couple of times. After all, this helps with search engines. Just don’t always refer to yourself in the third person er…business.

  • Using big fancy words, industry language, or lengthy explanations to explain what you do. Just tell them what you do in the quickest and most concise way possible. Bad example: Team 3 Media uses superior tools and state-of-the-art technology to build innovative websites that position you as an industry leader. The only good that can be rescued from this sentence is that we build websites. However, we could have used less and better words to describe what we do. Good example: Want a website that fits your brand personality and moves you closer to your marketing goals? We can help you with that. Check out some of the work we’ve done… Also don’t use words like innovative or industry-leader. Although, there’s nothing wrong with tooting your own horn, it’s bad form to say that about yourself. If someone else has said it and posted it online, then link to it. A description like this always sounds better if it comes from someone else, and it’s more believeable.

  • Don’t tell, show. Another thing that can be learned from the bad example above is that it tells you what we do, but doesn’t really show you. Adding pictures to your Facebook description is out of the question. However, you can add links back to your website, or even a custom Facebook tab to show examples. Let the quality of your work speak for itself.

What Your Description Should Do

 Answer these questions for your customers.

  • Who are you? What makes you unique?

  • Where are you? Do you only do business locally, or are you available to work remotely?

  • What do you do?

  • How are you doing it? Do you use any tools to make you more efficient? Do you have knowledge that could make a difference in the service you provide? Do you look at a problem in a different way from others in your industry?

  • When did you start? Have you been working in this area for a while, and if not what sets you apart from your more experienced competition?

You get bonus points if you can answer these questions in story-form, especially if you’ve got a good one. Did your frustration with badly written web copy drive you to create a course to teach people to write better web copy? Then tell your customers that. It’s way more intimate and enlightening than just saying “I write good. Come take my ecourse on writing.”

 You can also provide an answer for the pain point you sooth, or the need you fill. What do they get out of it? Will their new website provide them with more traffic, make it easier for their customers to find the answers they need, and generate more sales for their company? Then make sure that goes in your description.

 Use Bullet Points, Headlines, and Lots of Paraghaphs

Don’t be afraid to use bullets, headlines, and lots of paragraphs to break the description up. This makes your description easier to read.

NOTE: the headlines will not come across as being bigger (or underlined or bolded) in your Facebook description but it will create some much-needed space that makes your description easier to read.

If you use Word to write your description, your bullet points will come across just fine. Though you may need to go back in and add an extra line between the paragraph before the bullet points. For some reason, copying and pasting from Word removes this.

Play Friendly With the Search Engines

If you are working towards search engine optimization, you have a unique opportunity to add in those keywords to your description. Be careful how many places you insert your keywords. You don’t want to stuff your description full of them. Not only is it bad for search engine optimization, but it’s also makes your description sound terrible!

While we’re on that subject, make sure that your description does not start to sound overly-formal or awkward when you add in the keywords. There’s a delicate balance between making your description readable and making sure the search engines like it.

Put Your Website Link Or Other Important Contact Info Within the First Couple of Lines

Do this only if you don’t have a brick-and-mortar location or you do most of your business from your website. By inserting a link or email address into the first part of your description, you’ll ensure that it appears (and is clickable) just below the cover photo on your Facebook Page.

The Correct Way to Use Pictures On Your Facebook Page

using photos on facebook the right wayAre you guilty of using those “previews” of pictures from the stock photo sites on your Facebook Page? You can see an example to the right. After all, it’s easy to “save image as” and then post it. You didn’t even have to pay for it!

Stop! Before you add that picture to your Facebook photos, you need to know a few things.

You Are Stealing Artist’s Work

Yes, that’s right. Artists depend on these stock photo sites to help them distribute their work to a wider audience. Every time you use a picture that you didn’t pay for (even if it’s the preview) you are taking money away from those artists. In other words, you’re stealing.
Let’s look at it in another light. What would you do if someone came into your store and shoplifted? You’d probably call the cops, right?
Don’t be swayed by the fact that a digital download of a photo is not a “physical item”. That doesn’t matter in the least. Stealing applies to digital as well as physical products.
 

You’re In Violation Of The Sites Terms of Service

You might not know it, but using a preview of a picture for marketing purposes is against those stock photo sites terms of service. This time the problem is with digital rights. Artists “sell” the digital right to their work to stock photo sites in exchange for royalties and increased promotion. By using the photos without paying for them you are committing copyright infringement.

 

What Can Happen?

Well, other than the obvious jail time and fines, you could also lose access to your Facebook Page. If someone reports you to Facebook, they have every right to take your Page down (check out #5-Protecting Other People’s Rights). Also, if some blogger or news organization finds out, you can kiss your reputation goodbye.

 

I Don’t Give A Damn About My Bad Reputation

I’ve seen what happens when businesses’ failures are subject to the internet’s share buttons. Not only is it bad news for any future marketing efforts, but you could lose a lot of money and business over something that is easily fixed.

 

How to Fix It

Use stock photos on Facebook the right way by following these three steps.
Step 1: Delete all offending photos from your Facebook Page. Yes, you’ll lose the impact, but that could be a good thing in this case.
Step 2: Purchase or find alternate free pictures to use. I wrote a blog post recently with links to some great free photo sites.
Step 3: Thank your lucky stars that you found out about this before someone else did.
P.S. Yes, I did take a screenshot of a Facebook Page that was doing just this and I have contacted them about it. We’ll see if it makes a difference…

Great Resources for Using Online Photos the Right Way

Copyright license choice

Picture Via opensoursceway and flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/4371001458/

So you’ve finished that blog post and now you want to find a great photo that will compel people to click on your link when they see it on Facebook. You pull up Google images and type in a word from your blog post, and lo-and-behold the internet dumps a treasure-trove of options onto your lap. You eagerly wade through the pictures, trying to find that one perfect photo that will make even the most click-weary want to read your blog post. Before you decide to “save as image” stop and ask yourself whether that picture can actually be used.

Say What?

Anyone who lived through the Napster era knows that copyright infringement happens. Sometimes we lament the loss of free services such as Napster, because it allowed us to get free content. But for the most part, we understand that copyright infringement is wrong.

The Problem

Do you remember when Google images first came into being? It was awesome. Suddenly, you could not only search for websites, you could search photos within those websites. Oh, how I loved this feature. It led to many hours of finding cool background images for my desktop. But it created a problem. Google’s indexing of pictures around the web made them seem incredibly accessible, where before they were not. Couple this with the fact that most photos published after March 1, 1989 do not require a copyright notice, and you have a recipe for easy copyright infringement. When was the last time you saw a photo from the internet with a copyright mark on it?  I believe that this has led to the belief that these pictures are “free to use”.

Now, I understand wanting to use these photos, especially since iStockphoto is so expensive. I mean, what’s the harm in putting it on a blog post?

The harm is that despite all rationalizations it is still wrong. You are still “stealing” someone’s work and using it without their persmission. It’s not just a moral issue, it’s a money issue. If you had paid for that picture, you could be contributing to the livelihood of an artist (something I feel very strong about). Instead, the picture is ripped off from a website and plastered all over the internet, making it hard for that artist to get paid for their work.

Is there a solution? Can you still find a way to use the photo you desire?

Absolutely.

The Solutions

First of all there is a site that you can use to trace all instances of a photo on the internet. It’s called TinEye and we use it when we want to know where an image originated from. For artists, it can also be used to track down instances of your work across the internet. Below is a screenshot of what the front-page of the website looks like. As you can see, you can upload an image, copy and paste url, or even drag and drop a photo from another open page directly onto the TinEye website.

Because I was curious, I took the screenshot I made of their website and dropped it into the search engine. I got 39 results back. That means that 39 other people took or used a previous screenshot of TinEye’s home page.

TinEye Reverse Image Search

How To Be Really Safe

There are other ways to be really safe, though. You can use free services that allow you to use their photos under a creative commons license. These are sites such as flickr and Creative Commons search that give you access to photos that can be readily used. Most of these photos only need an “attribution link” (a link back to the place where you found the photo). Though you should check the license just to be sure, as there is more than one version of the creative commons license.

There are actually many sites out there that index or host creative commons photos. Doing a Google search for creative commons images brings up a couple of sites and blog posts about the issue. One of our favorites is Photo Pin (which has a very unique interface). If you do decide to use Photo Pin and are only looking for free images, don’t click on the top row of images as they are sponsored results from iStockphoto.

Another great site is the free image search from 123rf (a stock photo site that is quickly becoming a favorite of mine). This site allows artists to upload and tag their photos as free to use. You can use their free image search to find these photos and add them to your website as long as you include the attribution link back to them.

Update!

I got into a conversation on the Small Business Forum at Social Media Examiner about this topic. Here’s a couple more resources for free (or cheap photos). First up is Comp Fight, which is actually a flickr search tool that searches only their creative commons commercial license photos . This is not that different than using flickr search itself, except that it makes searching those commercially available pictures much easier. Another great resource is this blog post by Rich Brooks where he covers 13 free or cheap stock photo sites. I love the last one (your smart phone). Which is a great free resource for photos that is probably with you 24/7! 🙂

So remember, before you use a photo that you found on the internet, make sure to check and see if you can actually use it. To be safe, always assume it is copyrighted unless it says otherwise.