Nearly a billion people around the world use Facebook — and it's no surprise marketers are chasing all those users. In fact, Facebook says 96 of the top 100 marketers are on the site. But I haven't spoken to many companies that are thrilled with their Facebook programs. Marketers worry about how few fans they have, about how few comments and wall posts they get, and about the ROI of their Facebook spending — and many of them have good reason to worry. In fact, we think most Facebook marketing programs are entirely too unfocused, too under-resourced, and don't make enough use of the entire platform.

So how can you make your Facebook marketing program work? We recommend following four steps:

  1. Set clear objectives. If you don't know what you're trying to achieve with Facebook, you run the risk of not achieving anything at all. Are you trying to drive brand impact or sales? Generate word of mouth, increase loyalty, or provide customer service? Deciding on a few clear objectives for your Facebook program will answer most of the other questions you have — like who should fund the programs, or how you measure success.
  2. Provide value for your fans. Once you've figured out how Facebook can drive value for your company, make sure it's driving value for your fans as well. Otherwise, why would anyone bother to hit the 'like' button? According to Carolyn Everson, VP of global marketing solutions for Facebook, the brands that succeed on Facebook are "the ones that give people a reason to be fans." This doesn't have to mean discounts and coupons — exclusive content and information works just as well.
  3. Go beyond just your page. For many marketers, using Facebook means simply building a page. But you need to get people to your page — which means buying Facebook ads. You need to make your page useful — which could mean using events or apps. If you're a retailer, have you figured out how to use Facebook's location-based tools? Now that you know what you're trying to accomplish, find the tools to help you get there.
  4. Integrate Facebook into the marketing mix. Facebook may be a unique tool, but that doesn't mean it should stand alone as part of your marketing strategy. To get full value from your Facebook program, weave your Facebook efforts into your overall marketing ecosystem, and make sure it interacts with your site and carries through the messages people see in your paid media programs.

Those are our tips for making Facebook marketing programs work better — and I'd like to hear your tips as well. Which of these are working for you? What else are you doing to make your Facebook program effective? Where do you see other marketers going wrong? Let us know in the comments below.