Facebook is the most popular social network on the planet.

At last count there were over 800 million users, and 16% of all time spent online in the UK is spent on Facebook.

Users are spread fairly evenly across all age groups, from 12-year-olds to pensioners, making it a great way to talk to your audience and find customers.

Social media is all about communication – listening, listening some more, and then talking a bit.  But it’s not just a case of setting up a page and hoping for the best.

Your online strategy will be most effective if it’s planned, monitored and updated, so here are just a few of the ways you can use Facebook to get results.

how to use social networks for business, social networking for business, best facebook course1.  Put out the welcome mat

When you arrive at a party as a guest it can be difficult to comfortably join the conversation if everyone is already fully engaged, sharing jokes, talking to each other.

But if you’re greeted at the door by the host, welcomed in and introduced to a few people, it makes the whole social situation much easier.

Think of your Facebook page as a party where you want new visitors to feel happy to be there.

Have a welcome note to new visitors, inviting them in, asking them to join the community by ‘liking’ the page.

social media for business, social networking for businesses, facebook course2.  Vary the content

I am a big believer in the power of quality content in building business relationships, finding new customers and marketing your business. I especially like posts and articles (no, really?).

But I know that written content is not the only way to communicate.  We all like a bit of variety, and a Facebook page is no different.

Add videos and images to your page.  Ask questions, run polls.  Change the format of what you post to keep it fresh so it talks to your audience whether they like words, images, or film.

The Burt’s Bees Facebook page keeps content fresh and varied with great use of photos and videos.

facebook for business, facebook course, social media training3.  Be there

This is a pretty obvious one, but to illustrate my point….

Picture the scene:

A group of people in a bar talking.

One person asks what everyone’s up to at the weekend.

The group start to chip in with their plans.  The person who asks the question walks off.

Rude?  Yes.  And not the best way to make friends and build relationships.  Talking to an empty room isn’t much fun for anyone.

You wouldn’t do that in real life, so why do it online?  If you ask the questions, make sure you hang around to hear the answers and keep the conversation going.

facebook courses, social media training, social networking for business4.  Customise your page

Repeat after me: “We’re all individuals.”

Reflect that personality on your Facebook page.  Create a welcome message for new visitors, encourage them to ‘Like’ your page and tell them what benefits they’ll enjoy when they do.

Add your own tabs (menu options) on the left of your Facebook page to highlight your products, services and the story of your business.*

social networking training, facebook course, best facebook pages5.  Add value

One of the biggest Facebook sins is constant ‘broadcasting’ – this is where you simply publish posts that talk about what you (and your products) are up to.

Doing this turns your page into an online brochure – that’s not why people use social networks.

Some of the best Facebook pages get great results from asking questions and making special offers – check out Yo Sushi, or Starbucks to see some examples.

Using Facebook presents too many opportunities to miss.

I hope this has given you some tools to help you do it right, to make sure you give those 750 million people a great reason to spend some of their time on your page.

And if you want to be inspired with more great case studies, tips and tricks on how to make your Facebook page sparkle and shine, book you place at the next 1/2 day Facebook training session in Truro, Cornwall on 19th October 2011.  Book your place today.