The Facebook waves are washing all over the place. This is not surprising given the huge activity on the website and the sheer number of people –currently 500 million- who are members. Odds are too that you have joined the Facebook community.

So, if you want to take advantage of Facebook’s huge numbers and sheer ease of marketing, how can you go about it? As we speak, there are tons of different training manuals and materials on Facebook marketing. Unfortunately, a large number of these courses and training materials are so different in their approaches that most people tend to get stuck and are often unable to take action on what they’ve learned from these books. If you want to get some decent results without all the crap and fluff, here is a step by step guide that will show you all that you need to do and what relevant infos you need to get really great results, convert your traffic, cut your costs, track your results and maximize your profits.

1. Create an Impressive Business Profile

If you don’t have a Facebook account yet, great; but if you do, you just might have to create another one to market and promote your business, organization, institution and services. Some people make the mistake of using their personal profiles for their businesses. This is OK if you don’t have lots of friends who are posting about the last sushi they ate, or how the baby poo seems kinda funny.

Since most informal conversations hardly have anything to do with business, you will often find that you cannot separate these kinds of conversations from everyday activity. So, go get yourself another profile regardless of the number of friends you have made in the current profile. If you’re going to make money, you need a new profile. We will however, find a way to get them to become friends with you in your new profile. All it takes is a new email account –Facebook only allows one email per account- gmail preferably if you don’t have a personal domain name.

2. Create a Page for Your Business

Often referred to as a Facebook page, this will be the page from which you will sell your services, build your brand and explode your profits. One important tip to consider when doing this would be the most important keyword in your business. For example, if your business is landscaping, your Facebook page could be something like Facebook.com/johnlandscaping or something along that line.

Be creative with this as it is an important factor in your rankings on Facebook, google and other search engines. While creating your page, remember that you don’t want to fill the page with your history. Make your points succinct and concise. This not only indicates professionalism, it also shows that you’re quite efficient at what you do. There are a few things that will make your page stand out and look professional

* Your Picture: Make this look as professional as possible. if you intend to popularise your product or brand, you can use your company or product logo for that. No pictures of you playing golf with the governor unless you feel it will lend more power to your credibility.
* Your Info Page: Make this very engaging. No drawn out phrases, rambling sentences or boring clichés. Instead, make sure that when people visit your page they will be hooked by your information and what you intend to achieve or how you intend to help people. One more thing, include your website address in this portion of the page starting with a http://.

This makes the link clickable, so users can easily visit your website, blog or wherever you want them to. Also, filling this page with keywords that you intend to rank for is a great idea. So, create your content around the keywords you want to rank for and you’ll have surpassed a large percentage of your competition.

3. Create an Impressive landing Page

While you could easily use that which is provided by Facebook, you can get more response and fans by using a custom template or landing page. Research has shown that an attractive landing page plays a larger role in helping you convert surfers to fans and prospects. So, either create one yourself or hire someone to do it for you. To do this effectively, you will need an application called FBML. This is capable of creating really great looking landing pages in HTML, Flash and CSS formats. If you have no idea how to do all of these, you can easily get templates or hire experts like SEO companies who know how to do it.

4. Start Filling the Page with Rich Content

If you don’t have great content on your page, odds are that you will soon be relegated to the background, among the masses of non-recognized web pages, Facebook profiles and fan pages. How do you stand out then? Top notch, high quality, premium content! As simple as this sounds, it is one of the most difficult aspects. Consistently thinking about what to talk/write about or which video to post can prove very challenging. However, you really do not have a choice.

If you’re an expert in your business, then coming up with topics should not be such a difficult task. For instance, if you have been in touch with your clients for while, you would have seen a repeat pattern of questions. Start addressing these one after the other. Take each and transform them into a separate topic. Dissect and digest the topic so well that people will feel well informed after reading your post. You could do the same with FAQs (frequently asked questions).

You are not limited to texts alone. You can use videos, podcasts, audios and PowerPoint presentations to wow your fans. Listen “too much” information is never too much. The more value you give to them, the higher your chances of getting them to talk to their friends about your products and services, and forward your page to their friends. So, how much content do you need? As much as possible; for a start though, 5-10 will be perfect.

5. Invite Your Friends

From the previous list of your friends, choose those you think will be interested in your business and invite them. If you want to make this faster, you can add them to your contact list in your email address, log in to your email from Facebook, retrieve the contact and Facebook will do the rest. Facebook also recently added a Skype application. With this, you can easily identify friends from your Skype contacts that you can you can message and add as friends.

6. Start Promotion

This is the heavy part. So, I suggest you really listen up here.

* After you must have gathered a sizable number of friends, use the “Suggest to friends” or “Share” buttons to inform them of your Facebook page. Now, you see why there’s got to be something interesting there right!

* Second, search for all related keywords, industry publications and fan pages, or even brand names on Facebook. Join some of these pages and become active there.

Simply making comments and providing insight will force people to take notice of you, and encourage them click through to your page to see if you’ve got more “stuff”. Where you find people talking about your brand, get involved in the conversation and provide some useful feedback.

Help someone who has issues with your product, allay people’s fears, increase their confidence in your product and people will love you for it. Also, be sure to look through the member list and add them to your friends. This point is so crucial that if you miss it, you will be doing yourself a huge disfavour. This is because they share a common interest with you, who else to better market to than someone who is already interested!

* Third, you need to respond as soon as possible. When people find your content and profile interesting, they will leave comments and thoughts. Respond as fast as you possibly can. This helps people feel closer to you and like you. When people like you, you can be sure that they will become your brand ambassadors.

* Fourthly, encourage people to use the “Likes” button. This is such a powerful means of viral marketing. When others see what their friends like, they tend to check it out too. Not just that, when there lots of people use the “Like” button, your page will rise to the top news section giving it more visibility and popularity.

* Fifth, encourage fans to talk about how they use your products, upload videos of your products in action, teach people how to use your products effectively, post pictures of your events, conferences and tag them, upload pictures of your staff at work, interviews and so on. This helps create a feeling of transparency and openness. What you’re basically saying is “we’re approachable and we want to help you live richer and fuller lives”.

7. Keep Your Page Alive and Interesting

One way to keep your fans coming back for more is to keep your page interesting and filled with new content frequently. It doesn’t have to be a daily thing. Just make sure that it will be worth their while every time they visit your page.

8. Reward Your Fans

Now, this is a great thing to do. You can do this by organising contests, sweepstakes, raffle draws, giveaways or giving discount codes and coupons to your fans. This often creates a win-win situation as you get to grow your fan base, prospects, customers and clients while they get to have your products for cheaper rates or get gifts for taking part in the contest.

9. Network with Other pages

This is extremely important. Think of it as kind of joint venture between you and the other guys. Facebook has an “Add to My Page’s Favorites” button or section. When people see that you have favorited them, they tend to check out your profile and page just to be sure. Sometimes, they add you to their favorites too. With this, their fans will see this and probably click on it just to see what you got.

10. Develop Apps

This is crucial to your marketing success. If you have done all the above mentioned well, then this will be really easy to do. All it takes is to find out what application people would like. Usually carrying out a survey will help you narrow your list down to the most important applications. Then if you can afford it, create the application, launch it and have them use it. Integrate the application with the users profile so that whenever they do something on it, their friends will see it and check it out, thus giving you greater exposure and more popularity.

11. Use Tags

Tagging your page with the required keywords is a little known but highly effective way to promote your Facebook page. Mostly, when a post is tagged, it shows up on the pages all related keywords and topics. This way, if there are 500 people who like the topic, your tags will show up on their profiles. Facebook uses this to determine relevance. So, tag your posts and increase your exposure phenomenally.

Lastly, create a personality. People like original people, not copycats and cheats. Develop your own voice online. This often separates you from the crowd, gives you a unique identity and basically adds a uniqueness to your brand. Facebook marketing takes a lot of time and resources and can soon become overwhelming. You can easily outsource this or hire a social media and SEO company handle this for you. This way, you get to free up your time and focus on the most important aspects of your business.