Facebook, once reserved purely for college students looking to determine the relationship status of that cute coed in chemistry class, has become an increasingly valuable resource for professionals. Many law bloggers have Facebook fan pages for their blog or firm. However, like a blog, a Facebook fan page is not entirely an “if you build it, they will come” sort of tool. This can become a time-sensitive issue if you’re hoping to set a custom URL for your page before someone else grabs it. You need a minimum of 25 fans to reserve a custom URL for your Facebook fan page, but this won’t happen if no one knows your page exists. So, how do you get relevant people to find — and “like” — your page? 1. Suggest to your Facebook friends that they like it You’ve probably been asked by a Facebook friend, via Facebook, to become a fan of their page at some point. You, too, can suggest to your Facebook connections that they like your page. Hey, your slacker nephew in Albuquerque may not be part of your target audience, but he can at least help you reach lucky number 25. To do so, visit your page and look in the upper right-hand corner. You should see a link that says “Suggest to friends.” Click on it — this window will appear: You can then select which friends to invite or select them all. They will receive a message via Facebook and an email notification (if they have email notifications turned on) letting them know that you have made this suggestion. A more subtle way to promote your page from within Facebook is to post a status update advertising it. Look at the bottom of the left-hand sidebar —  you should see a link to “share”:

This will show up in your feed, and friends viewing your update might be tempted to check it out.

2. Email friends and professional acquaintances You might not be Facebook friends with your professional contacts, but chances are high that you have their email addresses in your digital Rolodex. Sending these folks a gentle nudge to visit your page, if you’re comfortable doing so, allows you to add a personal touch to the invitation. You or your firm may also send out regular client alerts. This is another opportunity to let them know that you’ve just launched a Facebook page, which will be a great vehicle for content that is relevant to them, and that you’d love their support.

3. Cross-pollinate on other social networks Do you have a number of regular blog readers, a bunch of connections on LinkedIn or a strong Twitter following? Tell them about your page! You could tweet something like “We recently launched a Facebook page: [URL] — let us know your thoughts” or share the link and a brief message in your LinkedIn feed. When Bill Marler of Marler Blog fame launched his Facebook page, he wrote a blog post to announce it, which went out to his blog’s subscribers within seconds.

4. Add a Facebook button to your blog A button in the sidebar is a call to action. When I come across a blog that I like, I often check out the blog’s sidebar to see whether it has a link to the blogger’s Twitter account or a Facebook page. If the blog does not have one and I really, really, really like the blog’s content, I might search for an external social media presence, but chances are that doing so just won’t cross my mind. Make it obvious. LexBlog bloggers: Client Services will be happy to take care of adding a Facebook button for you — just shoot us an email.

5. Add a link to your Facebook page to your email signature It’s so easy to do. Why not?

6. Buy Facebook ads Ever wonder how the ads that show up in the sidebar know to display content that directly appeals to your interests, location and lifestyle? (Mine are, for some reason, mostly cat-related.) These ads use the words (keywords) and demographic information that users have in their Facebook profiles to determine their audience, and anyone can create them. They’re relatively inexpensive– you can spend as little as $1/day — and you set a per diem price limit. For starters, click the “Promote with an Ad” link on the right-hand side of the page– it’s two links above the “Share with Friends” link we discussed earlier.

Here, you chose the heading of the post (the default is the name of the page, but you can change it to something more eye-catching), the copy of the ad (135 character limit), and the image displayed.

Next, select who you want to target.

You can tailor this by geographic location, age, gender, and interests (keywords). You can also filter out current fans that might meet these criteria — you don’t want to waste your efforts on people you already reach. The Advanced Targeting Options allow you to narrow it down by relationship status, level of education, and place of work, if those are relevant to your page.

Finally, you determine how much you can spend.

Set a name for your campaign — since you could theoretically have multiple campaigns, this helps you keep track of them– and determine a budget.

Then you select your pricing model: Pay for Impressions (CPM — cost per mille), the cost to display the ad on 1,000 pages, or Pay for Clicks (CPC — cost per click), which charges for each person who sees the ad and then clicks on it. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, though since the purpose of this campaign is to grow numbers (not raise awareness), Pay for Clicks seems like the best option.

Finally, set your maximum bid; you are essentially bidding on the keywords and demographics that you determined in step 2. Facebook suggests prices for you, but you can write in your own — keep in mind that going below the suggested range may not give you optimal results.

Review your ad, and click “Place order” if you’re satisfied. You’ll need to give Facebook your credit card information, of course.

To monitor results, edit anything or stop the ads from running, visit your page’s Campaigns page.

7. Write “like”-worthy content! As with all media, content is king. What’s the point of bringing people to your page if they don’t like what they see? Turn off whatever robot may be auto-populating your page with your blog’s updates and start engaging. Make users actually want your stuff to appear next to pictures and updates from friends and family in their news feed. —— Facebook is viral, meaning that getting one person to “like” your page means that this action will show up to all of that person’s friends, encouraging them to follow suit. Hopefully some of these methods will work for you. Which methods have been effective in getting people to fan your page?