Before turning to gurus and external guides, consider listening to Facebook and what the social media site recommends for businesses. Consider first the objectives Facebook says you should consider when preparing to promote your business on the social media site:

Notice that driving sales is not first and foremost. Because Facebook is social by design, you have to come at sales from a different angle rather than head-on. Facebook offers a variety of resources to help you understand how to best use their site to promote your business.

But rather than listen to Facebook – and who understands how Facebook works better than Facebook itself – businesses seem to want to apply age-old marketing techniques to a system that is hi-tech, emerging and constantly evolving.

Here is how Facebook suggests you approach advertising on their social media platform:

With print ads, TV ads, Google ads and other traditional advertising channels, you design an ad, put it out there and wait and see how well it works and how many sales it generates. With Facebook though, even by using Facebook ads that closely resemble the format of Google Adwords ads, it is not a direct conduit from advertising to selling, but rather a journey of sorts.

Because Facebook is social in nature, people do not go there looking for a purchase or business transaction and Facebook doesn’t want this to change. As a matter of fact, when GM pulled their $10 million Facebook advertising budget, that was what made the headlines, but it was the subtext that was more important.

There are three main tools that businesses can use on Facebook – small ads, Sponsored Stories and basic Facebook pages. But GM wanted access to full page advertising and when Facebook refused because they felt it would be disruptive and would turn people off, GM took their advertising dollars and left.

CEO of ad agency Deep Focus, Ian Schafer said recently, “Facebook protects its platform at all costs. That’s the Zuckerberg way.” Despite its recent IPO, Facebook will probably continue to ensure that its 900 million enrolled users are happy with the site – which means not being inundated with ads that disrupt their online socializing.

So for any business looking to most effectively leverage Facebook as a promotional tool, they should first and foremost listen to what Facebook is telling them. Your approach to marketing your business on Facebook should be social rather than directly sales-oriented.

You must entice potential customers to become fans and then engage them to consider an offline (out of Facebook) transaction with your company. You must be interactive, you must be constantly reaching out to your fans and encouraging them to share with you and then sharing in return.

Some great ways to interact with and engage fans is to ask questions, post polls or surveys (even fun ones that have little or nothing to do with your business) and respond to their posts on your wall to keep the conversation going.

Finally, Facebook recommends that you keep learning. This may be the best advice of all. Because Facebook is evolving constantly, you must be constantly refining your Facebook marketing strategy.