Why You Need to have a Strategy before you make a Facebook Fan Page NOW!

The good folks at Search Engine Journal have written an article demonstrating Why You Need to Make a Facebook Fan Page for Your Website NOW! This blog post is in response.

They see the SEO tactical benefits, (which are being debated) but aren’t looking at the bigger strategy.

[There are so many new social apps flying at every week, before we jump from tool to tool, let’s first develop some objectives and a strategy. Your plan shouldn’t waste time entering the market, but should set you up for long-term, holistic success]

I must caution you, that doing the ‘shiny’ hop from product to product is dangerous, and the product has yet to be vetted by the market. Instead of jumping in right away, I suggest that each brand ask and answer the following questions before jumping in and creating a Facebook Fan page for their brand.

1) What’s your objective in joining social networks? Why are you doing this in the first place? Does it align with the direction your company is going?

2) Is Facebook the right network for you? Is your audience there? Do they speak and read English? Are you sure they’re not in Bebo, MySpace, Orkut, or other network? Do you know the Facebook demographics? (I do, and it’s not the right audience for every market)

3) Do you already have a social networking hub elsewhere? Maybe your company has already deployed a social network, or has a sponsored group in Facebook, would this canibalize it?

4) Once you send customers to this page, what’s in it for them? The features of Facebook pages are limited, it’s a discussion board (with oh so spartan features) a wall, and an affinity group (fans).

5) When do you stop? How will this amplify your web strategy? How does this integrate with the rest of your strategies?

6) How do you measure success? Nothing is free, nothing. Using free tools require time, which equals dollars. Unplugging a free system may cost far more than building it. How will you know when this is successful? Have you already dedicated resources to manage and maintain this site? What happens if your detractors flame your wall up? Do you have a plan?

7) How will you have a conversation with your community? Building a fan page is only step one, getting them to come, and actively being part of an ongoing dialog is another.

I was one of the very few briefed on this product and my analysis on the announcement is available.

If you can first answer these 7 questions and still feel confident to go forward, then do it, I just want to make sure you have a clear plan first. I”ll be discussing these strategies as the Keynote speaker at the upcoming Facebook Web Community conference in Seattle this Dec 5-6.