A Facebook Fan Page is a close second (a website being first) as the most important online presence that you have available. However, many restaurants haven’t created a Fan Page yet. That’s a shame because a Facebook Fan Page establishes a community around your business, fostering consistent interaction that can facilitate growth. It’s not too late if you want to give your business a boost.

One obstacle is the difficulty, or perceived difficulty, in setting up a Facebook Fan Page. This is intended to rid you of this worry. As I guide you through the basics, I will refer to several more advanced features open to a restaurant (in italics). Those are all optional but will bring your Fan Page to the next level. Before we get started, it must be disclosed that a Facebook Fan Page is useless if it is set up and then abandoned. Facebook is a living community that responds to keeping the page current and interesting, so it will take a certain measure of time and effort. Luckily, setting up a Facebook Fan Page is not much of hassle.

To complete the creation of the Facebook Fan Page, you should beforehand move all needed materials (pictures, logos). Also, decide how you’ll describe your restaurant. What message do you want to get across? If your restaurant has a professional website, it might be a good place to get ideas. Now that you’re ready, let’s go through it step by step:

  1. To start, go to http://facebook.com/pages. Near the top of the screen, you’ll see a “Create Page” button. Click it.
  2. Then under the Official Page heading, select Restaurant and type in the exact name of your restaurant. These two things are very important as you cannot change them later on.
  3. Next you need to add a profile pic that depicts your brand/brand name. It needs to be clear so when it shows up as a thumbnail (shrunken) picture in a user’s news feed, they can identify your restaurant. A good idea may be to put your website address in this picture. This can be small as it doesn’t need to be seen on the thumbnail picture.
  4. Now we’re rollin. If you have an address book of customers/contacts/subscribers/etc., you want to import them into Facebook. Facebook will notify these people of the creation of your Fan Page and will hopefully become a fan. There has been a lot of controversy around this lately especially since you can only export contacts from Facebook to select services. Still, since you need to get the word out, it is a good idea.
  5. From there, you are going to fill the Page with information about your restaurant. Be as specific and accurate as possible. If you can, use the description box to be creative. Two ways of doing this are by telling a story or by entering in surprising information (what makes your restaurant unique). Don’t forget any information such as the links of your website. And do take advantage of the box under your profile picture/logo that allows you to put in a short description (Write Something about [your page]). Along with your website, phone number and address, you can use this box to include awards or honors that you received.
  6. It’s at this point that you begin making updates on your wall and filling your webpage with compelling information. Photos, events and promotions are a good start. Also, you should tell people of services that they may not know about. Making updates should become a habit and your restaurant should post on the board at least every week if not every two days or so. Every so often, you may use the Send an Update to Fans function which sends out the equivalent of a mass email through Facebook.
  7. Remember to promote your new Facebook Fan Page on Twitter, Linkedin, your blog, your email newsletter, and your website.

Advanced Moves

  1. Adjust the settings to decide who can see your wall and who can post on it. Be vigilant in checking the wall. You may have to take down anyone who is doing promotions of their business that you do not approve of. I’d suggest therefore hooking up your smart phone to monitor the site, and if you don’t, set a time to check it daily.
  2. When it prompts you (in the setup screen), look at the applications that Facebook offers and decide what fits for your restaurant. You can put tabs for Reservations or Reviews, etc. There is much more that you will find at http://www.facebook.com/apps/directory.php
  3. Facebook gives you a lot of flexibility adjusting your Fan Page by putting custom tabs and sidebars on your Page. All you have to do is download FBML application (FBML is Facebook’s version of HTML). So it will really differentiate you if you put custom tabs and sidebars on your Page.  Here are the steps explained simply. http://www.kimwoodbridge.com/how-to-add-a-custom-tab-to-a-facebook-fan-page/
  4. In the right hands, FBML can be used as a landing page that directs visitors to your message. Instead of a wall or information, a good landing page will capture their attention and hopefully win over fans.
  5. It’s important to link to your Facebook from your website. They have an application for that along with one that allows one to LIKE your restaurant from your website. Both will be helpful.
  6. Once your restaurant has 100 fans, you can change your URL to your restaurant’s name. It makes it easier to find both for your customers and a search engine. You’ll be able to do this if you go to http://www.facebook.com/username/
  7. You can advertise through Facebook Ads which submits a bid and charges only through the number of clicks you receive. It surely is growing so it’s something you may consider if it is right for your restaurant.
  8. Check out the web every two months to see if Facebook came up with any ways to better cater to restaurants.