Facebook is important, it’s huge. We get it. But are we only fooling ourselves? Facebook marketing requires a strategy to reach out to people that matter to your brand the most.

You know your business best, a consultant can only take you so far. So whether you keep your social media strategy in house or outsource it, you need to have an active role in how your message is relayed to consumers. Without your input, you can’t be completely sure that you’re being perceived how you need to be.

With over 800 million active Facebook users a day, you have the opportunity to be a part of a very powerful community. So what do you do? Alison Zarrella has come up with 10 Facebook tips from her experience as a social media manager for some of the biggest names in the industry.

1. Give ‘em what they want.

Make something exclusive. People want to feel like part of a community and that there is real value to liking your page. This doesn’t have to be an extravagant prize giveaway. You can stay within your budget and still engage consumers. Many companies offer free shipping or discounts but that’s only one solution. You don’t even need to discount your site or products. Offer white papers, exclusive content or even the opportunity to be a featured member of their fan club. Keep it simple, but also relevant to your brand.

2. Crowdsource Your Content

Carry your outside strategy into your Facebook plan. We’ve heard throughout the PubCon conference the importance of consistency. If you’re running a promotion in-store or online, it should also be relayed on your Facebook page as well. Your content needs to reflect a healthy and active business. Statuses and Facebook polls are simple ways to build engagement and keep your content fresh. You want to stay relevant to your users by staying in their news feed on a consistent basis.

3. Make Sure They Like You

People like your products and your brand so why not make them like your fan page? A customized fan page that shows that the user hasn’t liked the page will encourage them to engage with you on Facebook. Offering special content further entices people to take that extra step to liking your brand. To take this one step further, create a system that allows for people to comment on your content. Contests and open-ended questions are just a few examples.

4. Pick a Pattern

In order to break through the clutter you can brand your updates to relate back to your content strategy. DSW is an excellent example of this. They regularly have contests where users can post pictures of shoes they’ve bought from DSW and pair them with an outfit. It’s user submitted content that keeps the page fresh and falls in line with their social media strategy. Not only that, users come to rely on it. It’s okay to be predictable on Facebook. Fresh content will keep users on your page.

5. Don’t Push, Persuade

People don’t like pushy sales or promotions, even on Facebook. Persuasion is the softer side of Facebook sales. It’s a privilege for brands to be allowed into the personal space that Facebook users have. Suggestive comments or posts with links to your products are your best bet to enticing the subscribers to interact with you.

6. Stay Subtle With Links

We don’t like spam. Some of you might like to eat it but we don’t want it on our in your news feeds or on our walls. The average Facebook user is connected to 80 pages or groups. If all 80 of those groups decided to send out links, there’s a strong probability that those brands will see a drop in their user interaction. Approach users online like it’s an everyday conversation. You want to be the friend suggesting items as the need arises – not beating them over the head with it at every opportunity.

7. Don’t Dilute Your Own Content

If you can, stick to a single page. Multiple pages can distract users from your main target points. You don’t want people getting lost in the options. Tabs are a great alternative to showing different content. If you must go to different pages, keep them simple. Your content strategy should be cohesive throughout each page.

8. Keep Your Options Open

At the end of the day, Facebook owns your page. When they make changes, they ultimately will affect you.  A way to do this is to cross promote your content on your webpage. Once again, your message should be shared across your web platforms. If you need to, automate some things. However, users can tell when your posts are automated. Try to keep a balance between personally engaging with your people and having scheduled updates.

9. Keep it Light & Forget the Fakers

Images are the eye candy of the internet. And we don’t mean that in a naughty way. Your photos should be fun and encourage a positive atmosphere that builds up your brand. Go with the flow. Allow people to incorporate your brand into their daily lives. You don’t necessarily have to follow the status quo of your industry but it’s important to show that your brand has a personality. Always have fun with your brand and don’t be afraid to try something creative.

You poser! Remember that word? Even thought it might not be a part of pop culture anymore the act is still very much alive. Brand copycatting is rapid but it’s okay. Let it go and just breathe. Groups and old pages are bad for brands and at the end of the day, your consumer will be able to tell who is who. So keep your cool with copycat Facebook pages. It’s the same thing with competitive pages in your industry. If you focus on your own page by developing it through other social networks, email campaigns and even your own website, those other pages will cease to matter. Remember, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

10. Watch Your Self and Others

Don’t police your page but do set guidelines on how people are supposed to behave. Deleting posts is not the answer. It only shows that you’re not welcome to criticism or even worse, that you’re afraid of it. Develop some house rules and create a strategy for responding to negative reviews. After all, Facebook is a community – your role is to make sure others are getting abused.

If there are brands that your company admires, watch them. See what they’re doing and try to build upon their strong points. Feel free to look at brands outside of your industry. Their strategies may be helpful for the very things you want to accomplish.

Thanks to Alison Zarella for an insightful presentation on Facebook strategies.