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Facebook with its millions of members, presents a not-to-be missed marketing opportunity for businesses and non-profit organizations. Facebook offers the marketer a number of ways to use the application for marketing. Here is the best news of all. The price is right. These marketing tools are free unless you choose to support your efforts with advertising. If you want to promote your business, organization of event, here are five tips for using Facebook to get your message out.

1. Build a Group

Facebook is all about networking. Groups provide an excellent opportunity to tap into the social networks of your group’s members. Groups are easy to create. They are simply Facebook pages where group members can interact with one another, post pictures and videos, and carry on discussions. Having a group page for your business can go a long way to creating a community of interest for your organization or brand. Groups are particularly useful for causes and non-profits with highly focused publics. Brands and businesses can also use Facebook groups. For example, a Facebook group would be an excellent extension for a software users group. Facebook offers a number of options for customizing your group pages and for communicating with group members. Facebook groups are quite flexible.

2. Create a Page

Businesses do not have profiles on Facebook. They have pages. Instead of friends, they have fans. It costs nothing to have a page for your business. These pages are less interactive than those of a group. There are advantages to having a page instead of a group. Pages are focused on the brand, business or organization; whereas, with groups the focus is on group interaction. The two can work together to give you more coverage. To create a page, you must be legitimate representative of the brand.

3. Plan an Event

Another option for businesses wanting to use Facebook for marketing is to host an event. Events must be time bound. When you set up an event in Facebook you will need to include a start and stop date. If you are launching a new product or holding an event, don’t miss a chance to use Facebook to get the word out about it. Each event invitation that you send requires an RSVP so if you want to control numbers for an event like a pre-sale open house. The events page also lets you send out waves of invitations so that you can add to your guest list at any time. You can invite your friends, fans and group members. From within Facebook events, you can send your invited guests additional information about the event to build the buzz and enthusiasm for it.

4. Go beyond Facebook

Use your other marketing communications tools to let you customers and potential customers know about your Facebook presence. Add a link to your Facebook page from your web site. Be sure to include a notice on your e-mail marketing about your Facebook pages. If you are one of the millions of Twitter users, be sure to use this vehicle in your Facebook marketing campaign. Tweet when you create your page thus announcing its presence to your Twitter followers.

5. Obey the Rules of Social Marketing

Facebook, as with any social media application, requires a different style of marketing, which, for lack of a better term, I call “social marketing.” Inherent in social media is the notion of community. Community members are real, genuine people. If you are a fake, expect the community to out you. It is expected that you will be polite to the community and respect the other members. This means you should avoid blitzing them with your marketing message.

To effectively market in social media, you have to be constantly providing value to your readers. You cannot just be blaring digital white noise at them. So, as you craft your Facebook marketing campaigns remember to be genuine in your communications, valuable in your content, and diligent in providing a steady stream of new and valuable content. If you obey the rules, you will be rewarded by your fans.