Facebook and social media are key items in a marketer’s tool belt in this digital age. Brands and businesses are coming up with creative and unique ways to leverage the Facebook platform, so we’re talking about a few of the best ones here for you to try out.

Fans are rewarded for Liking and engaging with brands, and there are countless coupons, sweepstakes, and contests happening every day on the social network.

Though there is a lot of inspiration to draw from, there are a few questions you should ask yourself before you begin a promotion or campaign. Is this idea a fit for your brand? What results are you looking for? How do you want to measure those results? Is the ultimate goal more likes to your Page or brand awareness?

Once you’ve figured out what you want to accomplish, you can design a campaign that’s perfect for your brand and Facebook. Here are some ideas to inspire you.

Create Fun and Unique Rewards

In an effort to become “the most liked beer in America,” Corona Light tapped into a unique reward to get people to like its Facebook Page: putting its fans’ faces on a Times Square billboard. Corona Light bet that the market it was targeting would get a kick out of such a unique reward and not only like and upload its photo, but share the unique experience across its social networks.

Here’s how it worked: Once you liked the Corona Light Facebook Page, its photo uploading app was activated. Fans uploaded their photos through the app, and those photos then showed up on the Times Square billboard. Corona Light then posted photos from Times Square back to its Facebook Page for fans to share.

Of course, you can use social media management software that support Facebook to track engagement and conversations surrounding your contests and promotions, so consider doing that for even better results.

Contests & Giveaways

Giving away free stuff and running contests is pretty standard amongst marketers, but with the help of a platform like Facebook, you can reach a potentially larger audience, and get the people in that audience talking about it with their friends.

Pretzel Crisps got people talking about its products and liking its Page by giving away a lot of product in the span of a week. In fact, it gave away a case of product an hour over the span of 100 hours. And fans of the brand got even more engaged due to the fact the contest allowed them to enter every hour. Over the course of the week-long promotion, Pretzel Crisps grew its Facebook Page by more than 30,000 likes.

Creating a campaign with clear goals and calls-to-action got people engaged and active in a short time. This sort of contesting on Facebook is much more effective than having people fill out a contest form only to forget about it.

Forge Partnerships With Complementary Brands

There’s no reason to have to go it alone for a social media campaign. Big brands get together all the time for complementary marketing campaigns.

Capital One and Zynga have partnered for a campaign that brings Capital One branding to three of Zynga’s popular Facebook games: CityVille, FarmVille, and Pioneer Trail. Branded Capital One game items — such as an actual bank in the case of CityVille — will live in the games for up to 30 days. In return, all branded products link back to the Capital One Facebook Page.

Offer Discounts and Coupons

A great incentive to get fans of your brand to like your Facebook Page are coupons and discounts. There are many Facebook plug-in applications with which you can design and post your own coupon to your Page. The coupon will then be activated once a person likes your Page. You can easily install coupon apps such as the one from Involver for free — depending on how many Involver apps you have installed on your Page.

If you’re looking to grow your fan base, a unique way to do so is to get people working for a discount like Bonobos did with its Facebook Page. The incentive to spread the word about the Page was simple: a deeper discount. A counter was installed on the Facebook Page indicating that once the Page hit 50,000 likes, each person who liked the Page was entitled to a 50% discount for a purchase on a specified day.

Dare Your Fan Base

Finally, you may want to take your campaign beyond the usual coupon and give-away realm and dare your fans to do something extreme to earn a freebie. In the case of the Whopper Sacrifice it was just that: a sacrifice. Those who liked the Whopper Facebook Page could earn a free Whopper by sacrificing 10 of their Facebook friends. In a very short time 82,000 Facebook users sacrificed 230,000 friends.

Though the short-lived campaign was successful, the company pulled the plug on it pretty quickly. Facebook asked the developers of the app to change its functionality for violating a users’ expectation of privacy. Once a customer “sacrificed” a friend, an update was posted to his or her Facebook wall. Normally, removing a friend gives no notification. In the end, Burger King decided to pull the plug on the campaign rather than allow it to go on without that functionality.

How has your brand or business leveraged the Facebook platform for a social media promotion? Please share your stories in the comments below.

[Image credits: Ksayer1, Corona Light Facebook Page, Pretzel Crisps Facebook Page, Capital One Facebook PageBonobos Facebook Page, Whopper Sacrifice Facebook Page]