Do you use Facebook for your business? With nearly a billion people using the social network internationally, it’s a great tool to connect with existing customers and prospects, while also finding new ones. But you can’t just advertise your business indiscriminately on the service. Keep these points in mind when using Facebook for your business:

  • Start with a Plan. Before you begin using Facebook for your business, be sure you know what you want to gain as a result. Are you trying to encourage repeat business? Find new prospects for your business opportunity? Get customer feedback? By starting with an end in mind, you’ll ensure that the actions you take on Facebook are focused and results-oriented.
  • Engage Regularly. Facebook is a SOCIAL network. You can’t be social if you don’t show up. So be sure to set aside time daily, even if it’s just 10-20 minutes, to engage with people on Facebook. Ask and answer questions, comment on photos and status updates, listen to what others have to say, share interesting content that the people you’re connected with may enjoy. The point is to be social, and not just post an update and move on to the next thing.
  • Set Up a Business Page. Facebook Terms of Service is very clear about where businesses are allowed to promote themselves, and it’s NOT within a personal Profile. (SEE: What is the Difference Between a Facebook Profile and a Facebook Page?) If you are planning to ask people to do anything on Facebook from which you will make money, you MUST do those posts within the context of a Facebook Page. (Don’t know how to set up a Facebook Page? SEE: How to Create a Business Facebook Page)
  • Run Contests Within Facebook Guidelines. Contests are a fabulous way to build momentum for your business, and create addtional awareness. But you must follow the rules. Rules??? Yes, Virginia, Facebook does have requirements when it comes to contests. You may NOT use any Facebook feature (liking, commenting, etc.) as an entry for a contest. Instead, you must use a 3rd party application to administer your contest. (SEE: How to Run a Great Contest on Facebook.)
  • Consider Facebook Advertising. Facebook advertising can be a great way to generate additional awareness of your business. Be sure you’re advertising in a giving spirit, however. Give away something free (such as an ebook or a coupon) to encourage people to click and learn more. (SEE: 8 Tips for Effective Facebook Advertising.)
  • Have Patience. Rome was not built in a day, and neither will your Facebook community. It takes time and nurturing to build an engaged community. Focus on providing great content, listening to and connecting with others, and making relevant offers that are interesting to your community. And ask your community to share your Page with their friends! If they find you valuable, they’re more likely to do so.

How do you use Facebook to build your business? What additional tips would you give? We would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.