It’s Facebook Friday — each week we’ll offer one tip for leveraging Facebook to increase customer awareness of and engagement with your brand or business.

Smart brands know that Facebook has huge potential for reaching your audience and generating business results. But simply knowing that the network is important isn’t a guarantee of success. It takes a plan and proper tools to make it all come together.

It’s important to pick those tools carefully, depending on what your brand wants to accomplish through Facebook. Do you want to schedule and monitor posts? Do you want to build audience reach or customer loyalty? Whether you have a specific goal or just want to get more mileage out of your existing approach, here are six tools that convert the quest to become a Facebook powerhouse into a reality.

1. Sprout Social: Analytics, Interactions, and More

Sprout Social has many features that are essential to brands and marketers. First, the tool has a scheduler that lets you plan when your posts will appear. It even suggests which times will be most likely to reach your audience. Second, you can use the Smart Inbox to keep track of your messages, direct mentions, and other correspondence on social media channels, including Facebook.

Along with those capabilities for reaching customers, Sprout Social has features to help your social media, sales, and customer service teams to work more efficiently. You can assign tasks across your company to streamline communications with your customers. Sprout Social’s partnerships with Zendesk and UserVoice further improve those exchanges in customer service. Finally, the tool has reports and analytics to understand what is working in your social media strategy and what can be improved.

If you aren’t already a Sprout Social member, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial. That means you can test out the tools for Facebook and more to see for yourself what they offer.

Social Toaster and Fanzy: Getting Fans Involved

Facebook is a perfect platform for reaching out to potential customers, but it can also serve as a tool for boosting your connections with people who are already passionate about your business. SocialToaster and Fanzy are two companies that work to further build those ties.

SocialToaster offers a hub for turning those passionate fans into brand ambassadors. A company can recruit from its Facebook fans, then supply them with content to be shared across social media networks. By offering prizes and incentives to those super fans, more people will share a brand’s content and it will reach a wider audience.

Fanzy also highlights customer loyalty with gamification. In this case, the content brands supply to those loyal fans could be a specific keyword or a link to a video clip. As with SocialToaster, people who help spread the brand’s message then receive rewards based on how much response the sharing gets, or how much influence they wield on social networks.

Heyo: Create Engaging New Apps

One of the other powerful marketing features that is not new to Timeline is the ability to showcase custom apps. You have four slots for apps always visible on your brand’s main page, but you have space for many more. Brands such as Red Bull and Coca-Cola have used these apps to highlight contests, games, job listings, and more. Don’t underestimate how successful these can be in getting your fans engaged.

Heyo, formerly Lujure, is a popular company for building Facebook apps. Not only can it develop social programs and customize your Facebook Page, but it also has tools for building mobile and Web apps. This means you can have a consistent look and style to your brand presence across all platforms. While you have a wide range of options for companies like Heyo to make an app for you, it is possible for your brand to develop apps internally, depending on the tech savvy of your team.

Plug-Ins and Page Manager: Leverage Facebook’s Internal Tools

Don’t forget to check out the options provided by Facebook itself, for overseeing your Page. Be sure that you have taken advantage of the social plug-ins offered by the network so that you can connect Facebook to other actions taken online. These are the tools that allow fans to Like a page on your brand website. These tools also have options for your followers to send, subscribe, comment, or recommend material from the Internet that will be published to Facebook.

Finally, be sure you have the Facebook Pages Manager app, which is available on iPhone and iPad, for mobile upkeep. The tool allows you to perform all key operations for your brand’s Facebook presence, from buying promoted posts to maintaining photos.

What tools does your brand use for a killer Facebook presence? Let us know in the comments!


[Image credits: Tim SacktonDorothy Thompson, West McGowan]