Facebook basics: Get started

Facebook Cartoon

Image: Leadformix Martoons

With more than a billion users, Facebook is likely to be part of your marketing mix, especially if your books are aimed at the general reading public. But Facebook isn’t just big in numbers. It offers a large and often confusing range of features and applications to help marketers reach its huge audience. In this section, we set out the bare basics you need to know to get started.

Some Facebook terminology

Connect to FacebookLet’s start with some important Facebook terminology. This is a constantly changing (and somewhat confusing) feast of jargon but to use Facebook, you need to understand it.

  • Facebook Profile. A Facebook Profile is personal and it must link to a real person. Things you post on Facebook using your Profile are usually private, visible only to people you invite as Facebook friends. Your posts appear in the stream of news and updates from friends and other sources which Facebook calls your timeline.
  • Facebook Page. A Facebook Page is public. Most things on it are open to all internet users and search engines. Facebook Pages are for marketers, Facebook Profiles are not (with some exceptions).

There are a couple of variations that are relevant to marketers but less widely used.

  • Groups. These allow invited Facebook users to participate in closed discussions. In the past, Facebook Groups were used for marketing but they’re best left for closed discussion groups like associations, clubs, user groups, etc.
  • Subscriptions. You can open up your Profile to let Facebook users who are not friends subscribe to your posts. Subscribers will see any post that you’ve marked as ‘public’. This might suit some authors, for instance, if they are already active Facebook users and don’t want to operate separate personal and public accounts.

A quick tour of Facebook

If you’re already a Facebook user, you can probably skip this tour. In case you’re not, here’s how people use Facebook and how marketers get into the conversation.

Click to get a quick tour of Facebook

Here’s a quick look at how to set up and use a Facebook Profile.

#1. Sign up for a free user account

First, go to Facebook.com and sign up for a free Profile. Here’s a video that will show you how to do it. If you’re already using Facebook, you can skip it.

#2. Invite people you know to become Friends

Facebook provides many ways to get started finding people you know on Facebook. As it learns more about your friend network, it regularly suggests other people you may know on Facebook.

#3. Post status updates

This is where you let your friends know what you’re doing, or share a video, photo or link with them. Your friends can comment on your updates. Your updates, and updates from your friends, appear in what Facebook calls your timeline.
Facebook status box

4. Use the Facebook Like button to share things

You can use it to share things you find on the internet with your Facebook friends, and to follow Facebook Pages you’re interested in (become a fan, in Facebook jargon).

The Facebook Like button is everywhere on the internet. It’s a quick way to share items which then appear on your own Facebook news feed and those of your friends’ – though not everything gets shared with Facebook Likeeveryone since the clutter would make Facebook unusable.

Instead, another important algorithm called EdgeRank is at play here. Facebook uses it to determine which of the many posts and comments from your Facebook friends, groups and Pages will appear on your news feed.

Facebook terminology for marketers

We’ve introduced two terms, ‘timeline’ and ‘news feed’. The timeline and the news feed look the same and appear to do the same thing so they are the source of a lot of confusion. But there are important differences which are crucial to marketers.

  • Timeline. The timeline is where you post your status updates. If you’re in your Profile, it’s also where you’ll see your friends’ status updates so it’s basically where you go to see your private communications. On your Page, it’s also where your status updates appear along with comments or updates from your fans.
  • News Feed. When you log into your personal Facebook Profile,  the news feed is what you see. The difference is that, instead of just your private communications with friends, it also includes updates from the Pages you’ve Liked and Groups that you’re a member of. The news feed is your home page and you can get back to it any time by clicking the ‘home’ link on the top right or the Facebook logo on the top left. As a marketer, there are three important things you need to know:
    1. The user’s news feed is where your Page’s updates appear.
    2. The news feed is customized for each user, so your Page’s update might appear on one user’s news feed but not another’s, even though both Liked your Page.
    3. An algorithm called EdgeRank manages what appears in each user’s news feed. This weights all the potential updates based on factors like how often that particular user interacts with the Page, how popular its content is overall, and how recent the content is.


Find out more about this topic on our Digital Publishing 101 useful resources site.


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