If you are one of those who habitually use Facebook in your day-to-day social life, then you probably know instinctively how best to use it in the marketing of your business. Keeping abreast a lively social circle does not require wildly different skills from making sure that your business is the talk of the town.

On the other hand, if your personal Facebook profile has been laying bare and bereft since you signed up, the chances are that you need a few pointers. Here is a beginners’ guide to the use of Facebook for marketing.

1. Keep adding fresh content

Whenever you add something to your Facebook page, be it a status update, a photo or a wall post, it will appear on the homepage of all those who have chosen to be your fan. This is a delicate balance: if you update too frequently, you’ll annoy people; too infrequently, and you’ll fall off the radar altogether. Try to add fresh content two to four times a week. Keep your updates interesting or valuable, and you’ll be a welcome addition to the daily feed.

2. Give your Facebook users something that others don’t get

So, what should you be updating with?  Don’t just duplicate content that’s on your website or spout marketing babble. Reward your Facebook buddies by making them feel like members of an exclusive club. If you can afford to, give them special offers, making it clear that they are only open to Facebook users.  If not, exclusive content can be as simple as photos they won’t have seen elsewhere, or even glimpses into the workings of your company from behind the scenes – it costs nothing, and makes folks feel like they are part of ‘the gang’. Or how about tips on using your product or service?

3. Encourage communication

Make it clear that you value feedback from your customers. Invite them to write on your wall (and make sure you have chosen the setting which allows them to do so). Post regular questions along the lines of ‘what would you like to see us offering?’ or – if you are brave enough – ‘what could we be doing better?’. Most important of all, reply. Wade in, join the debate and show that you have read everything that has been written.

4. Use the message function

You can send an ‘update’ to everyone who has nominated themselves as a fan of your page. Even though you will never have the personal email addresses of your fans, your message arrives directly into their Facebook inbox (and their mail inbox if they have chosen that setting), effectively giving you access to the most valuable mailing list you will ever have: self-determined enthusiasts for your product or brand.

Use caution and do not spam your fans. A message a week would be considered too frequent by many unless you have a genuinely attractive offer to promote. A monthly message might be better received.

5. Search for the mention of your product or company

Facebook’s ‘search’ function is becoming better by the day: you may find that by searching for your product or brand name that you find not only unofficial fan pages, but mentions in status updates, photo comments, and all over the Facebook network. Don’t leave it there, though: if appropriate, leave a response. Make it clear who you are – transparency is a must – and if you discover a negative viewpoint, try to address it positively.

If you follow these five simple rules, you’ll find that with only ten to twenty minutes’ work a day, you have forged some of the most valuable relationships your business will ever have. Read more about using Facebook for business on Facebook’s help pages. No time to implement these ideas? The simple, and cost-effective, the solution is to use Notting Hill Web Design to manage your Facebook profile for you.