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As the company closes in on the one billion-user mark, Facebook’s significance as a marketing platform for small businesses has never been more apparent. But how do you know if creating an online presence through Facebook makes sense for your company? And, perhaps more importantly, are you utilizing the world’s largest social network in a way that maximizes your marketing potential? Should you be running ads? Setting up a fan page?

To help you decide what approach is right for your small business, we’ll highlight some helpful tips and features in an attempt to provide you with the low-down on Facebook marketing.

1. Create a landing page that pops

If you’re going to make an online marketing investment with Facebook and its hundreds of millions of users, creating a powerful landing page that resonates with your customers just makes sense. Your company’s Facebook profile enables you to establish a direct and personal relationship with your clients, so it’s vital to build a page that reflects the strengths and quality of your business. Your page should not only consist of user-friendly features and creative branding, but it should exhibit a smart balance of informative and engaging content.

2. Engage your users

From a small business marketing standpoint, the ability to develop an instant and meaningful dialogue with your customers (and, not to mention with Facebook’s millions of users) through your online presence is probably the network’s most valuable asset. That’s why it’s critical when running your page to maintain a high level of engagement¾consistently interact with your visitors, and be responsive to their inquiries and exchanges. Remember that your customers are interested in getting the same value out of the experience that you are. Creating a dialogue with your users that is both personal and informative is often the difference between successful Facebook campaigns, and those that fall flat.

3. Make use of unique features and content

As crucial as the dialogue that your company establishes through its Facebook page is, the manner in which it does so is nearly as important. Employing unique features and content to provide your visitors with regular insight and information via news, events and announcements about your company, is an efficient way of reaching your target demographic. Incorporating applications and featuring links to your other social media platforms (e.g., your company’s blog, newsletter, Twitter, and YouTube Channel) drives traffic and provides a deeper level of engagement. Encourage visitors to join your mailing list, post their own photos, videos, or other useful information, and create unique pages where users can interact in a “community” setting to share experiences, tips, techniques, and so forth.

A lot of businesses on Facebook tend to overlook the fact that your page can be used as an extension of your customer service. For instance, if you’re a restaurant, allocate certain pages for menus and reviews, or include specific apps that allow you to take reservations or poll your customers. Facebook’s endless array of practical applications makes it easy for your company’s marketing campaign to reach and expand its designated target audience.

4. Promote your company

What better medium to create a buzz about your company’s marketing efforts than the world’s most popular social network? Running local promotions such as trivia, online-only specials and discount coupons is not only attractive to existing and potential future customers, but they establish a reciprocal dialogue between you and your clients that goes a long way towards solidifying and sustaining your professional relationship. As mentioned above, the wealth of innovative Facebook apps and features available to small businesses that facilitate the personalization¾and localization¾of content on your page is almost as vast as the marketing opportunities that lie within them. So target individuals that live and work in the vicinity of your business with “walk-in” specials, or create incentives to visit your company for those that reside outside of your geographic region via a one-time online promo. The opportunity to advance your marketing campaign through Facebook by providing your customers with local promotions and content is truly a win-win.

5. Utilize Ads and Fan Pages

Advertising through Facebook and creating a Fan Page are additional channels that small businesses can take advantage of to drive traffic and broaden their marketing reach. Facebook’s Fan Page is an excellent way to further interact with your client base, as “fans” of your page are automatically updated of your activity via their News Feed every time they log on. Purchasing Facebook ads is an easy, relatively inexpensive way to increase your company’s visibility throughout the network, and doing so enables users to “like” your Fan Page simply by clicking on them. Both platforms can serve as an efficient means of developing brand awareness and increasing exposure for your marketing campaigns.

Facebook has become a valuable social marketing tool for small businesses, and if used effectively can help your company to enhance its relationship with its customers, while generating greater interest in your brand.