Earlier this week, I talked about the importance of maintaining a company blog. Another very important arrow in your marketing quiver is a Facebook page, a nice value-added service offered by Facebook where users can gather in a central spot within the walls of the social networking service to interact with you and your other customers. Like blogging, Facebook pages are a useful way to broadcast marketing messages, promotions, and sales without direct email or snail mail that could be interpreted as junk mail. Since customers must opt-in (join) your fan page to receive updates, there's little risk of irritating customers with promotional messages providing the majority of the updates you post to your page is useful information and not simply advertising.

Thanks to personal video recorders, ad-free radio, and the decline of traditional print media, getting your message seen by customers is becoming more difficult every day. Facebook pages are a great way to reach the increasing number of people who turn to the Internet while making purchasing decisions.

Facebook pages aren't without drawbacks, however. Not all your customers (or potential customers) use Facebook, and those that do may not choose to join fan pages. As a result, the reach of your messages on Facebook may be somewhat limited. Furthermore, it's easy to get lost in the din of everyone other company's page, and even tougher to find ways to remind customers to check your page when they log in to the service.

If you do decide to create a Facebook page, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of creating a legion of fans ready to connect with your company. Contests and giveaways are a safe bet, particularly when they're interactive and require action on the part of the user -- recording a short video or leaving a comment, for instance.

Like maintaining a company blog, you want to make sure your Facebook page is more than just an elaborate advertisement. Be sure to include tips, resources, links, and information that's relevant to your customers. Also, make sure the page is updated regularly with relevant and timely content.

Whether a Facebook page makes sense for your company is really a matter of preference. It's not a must-have marketing tool, but it does make a nice landing spot for people who already use Facebook. On the other hand, if your competitors have well-maintained pages that are heavily trafficked, then you probably want to have one as well.

Flickr image courtesy of Caveman 92223 ?? On the Long Road Home.