If you’re running a Facebook page, here’s something you need to know: the playing field just tilted.

Of course you’re running a Facebook page – with 750 million users, it’s a market you can’t afford to ignore. And of course, on your business’s behalf, you’re running a page and not a profile: profiles being reserved for personal use. (How to tell the difference: you ‘like’ a page, but you ‘friend’ a profile).

Pages are far more flexible, they allow you to draw useful statistics, they allow you to set up ‘vanity URLs’ (www.facebook.com/yourbusiness), and they don’t have a friend limit of 5,000. (And, according to people in the know, Facebook will delete your profile if it thinks you’re a business rather than a natural person. Although, to be fair, I’ve never actually heard of that happening.)

Thing is, though, you need to know a bit about Facebook and all the technical stuff surrounding it if you’re going to set up a page with the clout of something like Red Bull  (which has almost 22.5 million fans) or Coca Cola (with 34.5 million fans) or even Marriot International, which has a modest 32,242 fans – although as a company it owns more than 3,500 properties around the world (see: even some of the big guys are struggling with this).

You need a plan, you need to know your brand, and you need a geek. Or two. And, with all the recent changes at Facebook, you need them now more than ever.

Take a look at this article from TIG Global: ‘How the new Facebook Changes will affect business’ (Part I here,  and Part II here).

The biggest change seems to be in the way your page’s information now feeds through to your fans: in effect, when you post something on your page, it might pop up for a second or two on your fans’ ‘Tickers’ (the feeds that appear on the top right hand side of every Facebook profile. Watch yours – it rolls over quite quickly, especially if you have a lot of friends and you’ve liked a lot of pages, and they’re all busy posting and updating themselves.)

But after your post has popped up on those tickers – it disappears just as quickly.

And if you don’t appear in your fans news feeds any more (that is, on their walls), you’re going to have to work a lot harder than ever before to get your fans to come to you.

And that should be easy, because we’re in tourism, and we’re in the business of delivering holidays, and holidays are fun – and in these gloomy times, everyone wants to have a little fun. So of course they’ll come running.

Easy? Yeah right.

Which is why I use hubspot.com.  It’s a mine of incredibly useful information: you might like to start on the ‘Internet Marketing Whitepapers & Ebooks’ page and download the Free eBook: “How to Use Facebook for Business: An Introductory Guide” for 2011.

It blows my mind that people would go to such incredible lengths to share their knowledge – free of charge. It means there is some good left in the world…