At last count, there’s about 800 million active users on Facebook. Sure there are plenty of fake accounts, scammers and spammers of that 800 million accounts, but even when you take those into consideration, it’s mind-boggling that more than 50% of that 800 million people log onto Facebook on any single day.

customAs someone in business, it would be foolish to ignore a channel as large as this one. If marketers are spending millions of dollars to reach a relatively small TV audience, why not take a portion out of that budget and spend it on targeted marketing on Facebook?

Despite all the great benefits of marketing on Facebook, however, many businesses fall flat on their face when they gave it a try. Like Adwords, Facebook Ads can spend thousands of dollars in hours with naught for result if you don’t know what you’re doing.

This guide will help you prevent that from happening, and it will help get fans, generate buzz and make sales.

1. Facebook Ads
Most beginners assume things will be free when they market on Facebook. Is it possible to hit a viral homerun and get yourself millions of fans overnight? Sure. But is it likely? No, not really.

The fact is, most successful “viral” ads and business presence on Facebook are backed by paid ads. Facebook invested millions of dollars to develop an ad system that rewards businesses for keeping users on Facebook, instead of leading them off-site. As such it is often cheaper to advertise your Facebook page than your website.

When you sponsor your Facebook page, you can use what is called “Sponsored Stories”, which a type of ad that displays in association with your friend’s name. Let’s say you’re friends with John, and John like Business X’s page. If the owner uses Sponsored Stories, an ad that says “John Likes Business X” with your Business X’s logo right beneath and a like button.

You can be sure Sponsored Stories perform much better than regular Facebook Ads and therefore have much lower cost per click.

2. Capture Leads
custom2There’s always a chance a Facebook staff would stumble onto your page and not like what they see. When that happens, all the resources you spent on building up your following will be gone in one swift click and unless you are a big spender with a dedicated account manager, there’s probably nothing you can do.

This is why you need to be consistently capturing email leads out of Facebook as a “back up”, be it with your Facebook posts that point to your website or an email sign up tab.

3. Like Gates
A “like gate” is a great way to generate your fan base. You know how you need a bribe to get people to subscribe to your email newsletter? Well, you need one to get people to like your page too. A like gate prevents users to view fan-only content, which can be anything from a video to a free e-book.

4. Consistent Quality Posts
We all know that the value of an email list is in the list’s responsiveness, not the size. That’s true for Facebook. Ask any social media pros and they will tell you that it’s not all about the number of fans you have. It’s also about “engagement”.

This is why you need to take time out of your busy life to scour the Internet for something interesting to post and do this at least once a day. Consistent posting keeps your fans engaged. Not only will keeping them engaged builds your authority, they’ll also be there when you need to promote a particular campaign.

5. Integrate Social Plugins
Your website gets hundreds or even thousands of visitors daily, why not get them to follow you on Facebook too? You can do this by integrating Facebook’s social plugins, which consists of:

A like box, showing the portraits of their friends who liked your website. A great way to build social proof.
A like button for your readers to quickly share your blog posts or website content.
A Facebook comment plugin, which gives the user an option to automatically post their comment on Facebook.
All these plugins are designed to generate viral traffic. Make use of them!

7. Call To Action
Facebook maybe a new media, but the old rules apply. If you don’t ask for an action, people won’t do anything. If you want people to like your page, say, “Click like if you “. For example, “Click like if you think banks are evil.” If you want people to share, say, “Share this if you”

You’ll be amazed how much a call to action affects your response rate on Facebook.

8. Contests
Holding a contest is one of the best ways to promote your page simply because people on Facebook like them. Who don’t want free stuff, right? Plus, you can run Facebook ads to promote your contest.

Take note, however, that Facebook has strict guidelines regarding contests. Make sure you give them a thorough read before starting.

9. Engage Others
In addition to engaging your readers and replying to their comments, remember to also engage with industry leaders and fellow business people in your industry. If you’re new, this is a great way to network and build your reputation.

custom3If done right, you can even get their fans to like you too. The golden rule when it comes to engaging industry leaders is to always deliver something of value first like a testimonial for them, or a well-thought out comment on one of their posts. Trust me, Facebook is not the place to “chat them up”. That’s for conferences.

Ally is part of the team that manages personal finance blogs in Sydney, Australia, which feature tips about ways to save money and frugality . Before joining the team, she was a Media Planner in McCann Worldgroup Philippines, Inc., with award-winning executions, including the Levi’s 501 “Live Unbuttoned” global campaign.