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Gone are the days when businesses and bloggers could grow their fan base and traffic by maintaining a light presence on Facebook. As Facebook has changed their algorithms, brands have reported declining numbers of followers who actually receive their posts in their feeds. And yet, participation in the mammoth social network remains essential to a well-developed social media plan.

Good Content is Key
Resist the temptation to treat your Facebook like free advertising, because it isn’t. It’s a chance to engage with your audience, to show your genuine personality. Good content is your first priority, and it shouldn’t always be about your brand or product.

Self-obsession kills content on Facebook. Think about it like you are walking into a party. You wouldn’t walk up to everyone at the party and just sell, sell, sell. So constantly posting “buy now” and other promos  is not the way to attract an audience.  We live in a time of curation and social artistry. If your brand matches a particular point of view, cultivate content matching that ideology.

Building your brand as a Blogger? Share a recipe, post a funny story, create a tutorial on homemade costumes, or post the shortcomings of a big box store! For those of you branding yourselves, share what inspires you. Offer some behind-the-scenes snapshots into the path that brought you here. Who doesn’t love getting something special, a glance behind the curtain of a brand and promotions? Facebook is all about the sneak peeks.

Positive Perks
Sometimes the simplest messages get the most uptake. Something as quick and easy as a Fourth of July post; ‘Happy Independence Day’ message with a fun picture - Sweet and honest: boom! Will allow you to stand out and have fun with the festivities.

Rules of Engagement
Facebook favors posts that have high engagement, so if you want to reach people, you’ve got to think in terms of shares, likes, comments, and conversations. Ask questions, troll for opinions, provoke discussion. Most importantly, dive into the stream and respond to your followers’ comments. Share, like & comment on posts of pages and people you follow.

Create a Long Conversation
One way to turn the energy around a single post into momentum for continued engagement is to create serialized posts. A theme or series of posts that are visual, frequent, short enough for readability and long enough for legitimately interesting content. This model is great for chronicling the development of a product, or stockpiling related content for periodic release. For instance, if your business is cupcakes, maybe you’d post a weekly photo highlighting flavors, themes, designs of cupcakes you’ve made.

Strike a Pose or a Selfies
Posts with images are usually more successful, so keep an eye out for meaningful photo ops. Unlike Twitter, it’s pretty easy to album-ize your photos with projects, events, launches, or any major event. It’s a good idea to add your logo or web site URL to all of your photos too.

Who’s Counting?
A hundred likes, a thousand likes, a million likes, hooray! It feels good to be the LIKED, but numbers aren’t everything. Growth comes naturally when you make something awesome and create a community around it. Avoid giveaways and contests that artificially spike your follower numbers. If people weren’t genuinely interested in your content to begin with, they won’t be engaging with your posts, and your page will become a ghost town.

Watch the Clock
For you number-crunchers, Facebook provides some handy dandy analytic tools for your page. Monitor your analytics and, who knows, you may find useful trends in your page. If your posts are DOA on Tuesdays (maybe everyone’s at Starbucks) consider posting the next morning. Take advantage of your fans’ habits to give them what they want, when they want it.

The bottom line? There’s no golden chariot that will take your page to the top of the social Mt. Olympus, or without which you’re guaranteed to fail. You just have to be in the game and play it consistently. Make a commitment daily to spend some time on Facebook. Common sense and a sense of humor prevail, remember, have fun with it!

See you on Facebook!

Take a look at the Google+ Hangout we did with tips on using Facebook:

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