Today, Facebook has more than 500 million active users globally, with half of its users logging into the site every day. Are you leveraging Facebook as a personal branding tool?

Making the most of face time

There are two ways you can use Facebook for personal use: create an account or create a page. While an account is a great tool for personal networking, a page is an amazing personal branding tool to connect with fans and clients on a professional level.

Samir Balwani wrote in his Mashable article, “5 Elements of a Successful Facebook Fan Page,” that successful fan pages include the following elements:

  1. Networking with other platforms: Successful pages include links back to their other websites and social networking profiles.
  2. Creating a resource: Offering your fans great information and resources makes them more interested in following your brand.
  3. Creating contests that include participation: Giving people a reason to “like” your page often increases the following tremendously.
  4. Empowering pre-existing pages: Encouraging and rewarding fans who have dedicated time to your Facebook presence adds more value than shutting down their “unofficial” page.
  5. Targeting the proper demographic: Although more and more people join Facebook every day, there are still a few demographics that aren’t as engaged as others. Deciding if Facebook is the right platform for your brand is an important step in creating a successful presence.

Each of the following people, whether they are a celebrity, author, athlete, or social media guru, use their Facebook fan page to further their personal brand and interact directly with their fans.

1. Mark Zuckerberg: As the founder of Facebook, Zuckerberg understands how to leverage his fan page in numerous ways. He updates his page with interesting Facebook goings-on, photos, and recent articles he’s written. He also shares extras with his fans that you would not be able to see otherwise (such as a video with bloopers on the end).

2. LeBron James: Although it’s apparent that James does not update his own fan page, his page obviously shares things that the fans want to see, with each photo uploaded or status update receiving hundreds – or even thousands – of comments and “likes.” Interestingly, his fan page also has a lot of interaction on the “Discussion Board” tab, which often goes unused. He does a good job at linking back to his Twitter account and personal webpage through an amazing-looking landing page.

3. Lady Gaga: When heading to Lady Gaga’s fan page, the first tab you land on is a list of her music videos. This shows that she clearly understands what her fans want to see and is creating a resource for them to come back to. She also has tabs for her store and newsletter—a great way to expose her Facebook fans to things they might only find through her site. Her status updates appear as if she’s talking directly to her fans, which helps give her page a personal touch that many seem to lack.

4. Keith Ferrazzi: I like that one of the first things you see on Keith’s page is his small biography box under his picture, talking directly to the fan:

“Hey everyone, I have a blog! Come visit us! And make sure to comment often. My Facebook community has the most insightful comments. BE GENEROUS and share them with the world. Look forward to the conversation!”

He also includes a tab for his blog, numerous photo uploads (directly from his phone) and links to his other websites and profiles.

5. Mari Smith: Mari’s fan page is often shown as an example on Social Media Examiner—and it’s clear why. She has a great landing tab which includes her latest tweet, latest blog posts, a video, Flickr photostream, a personal message and a call to action to “like” the page. Her Wall is packed full of fans asking questions and receiving answers about social media – either from Mari herself or from other fans who have some knowledge of the tools. Her profile picture explains her brand perfectly and concisely. She’s created a resource for people with social media questions and has a tab with resources that fans can visit.