As an innkeeper for a quaint bed and breakfast inn, you are charged with the task of not only creating a comfortable, homey environment for your guests, but also managing an effective marketing campaign that exposes your accommodations over large chain hotels. It can be rough especially for the new B&B owner to compete with a national corporation and their seemingly endless budget, but if you are savvy enough to operate social media and use it to your advantage, you can cut a chink in their business and watch yours grow. A Facebook fan page is a great, and free, way to start.Facebook Profiles and Fan Pages – the DifferenceIf you have a Facebook profile, you might be apprehensive about promoting your bed and breakfast through this network. Over the last few years, concerns about privacy have cautioned Facebook users from volunteering too much information, and you may not wish to arbitrarily add strangers to your friend network. The good news is: you don’t have to. With Facebook you can set up an individual page devoted to your inn or vacation rental, and people can join that page for information. Your profile remains intact.What can a fan page do for your lodging business? Now that Facebook URLs show up in search engine results, plenty! At the bottom left corner of your Facebook dashboard, you’ll find an icon that takes you to the setup area for a page. The wizard is user-friendly and the end result looks similar to your personal profile, only you have the opportunity here to promote your bed and breakfast main website, directions, and other important information. Also, you can create photo albums for your specific rooms and amenities, and list events happening in your area and at your inn. A video tab option allows you to upload short clips advertising the finer points of your B&B, or homemade “commercials” for viewers to enjoy.Facebook ExtrasWhile Facebook limits how users can structure fan pages, there are widgets available to enhance the functionality. If you are familiar with HTML, then using the Static FBML function can help you create custom tabs for your page. You can set up qualified code to direct users to a reservation engine or your Twitter feed or Flickr account…anything you wish.Facebook also has a proprietary advertising program, where you can market to specific demographics. If you seek in-state visitors, for example, you can advertise to profiles in the area – or to women only, people who like a specific football team near your home, and so on. Using the cost per click model, this social network’s advertising is affordable and the analytics are easy to discern.The notes section on the fan page is for making informative posts, much like a blog. To cut time, if you have an existing blog set up you can plug the RSS feed into the Notes application and every time you blog it will feed into your Facebook page.Finding FriendsOnce you’ve set up shop, next comes the job of getting people to join your fan page. Of course, word is mouth is the best method of advertising, so naturally the first thing to do is let your personal friends know the page is live! Make sure to include some kind of link on your main website leading to the page (Facebook has widgets and code available for us) to authenticate the fan page, and promote away. As other social networks have applications to interconnect with Facebook, you’ll find spreading the word is as simple as typing your inn’s name.If you do not already have a fan page for your lodging, it is important to set it up as soon as possible. Add social functionality to your business solidifies your brand in social media, and helps you better promote your inn. Invest the time to promote through Facebook and see the improvement in your reservations.