I was at a networking dinner in Newcastle a few months ago and the financial planner I was sitting across from told me she now gets about a third of all new clients from her Facebook page.

It got me thinking about the number of business owners out there who have a Facebook page but aren’t using it to its full potential to attract new customers and drive sales.

So – you’re there, you’ve created the page for your business, you have gathered a considerable amount of likes, but are you now wondering if all this is bringing you any new customers? The truth is, it probably isn’t.

If you have overcome the ‘‘Facebook for dummies’’ level, be sure to read my following three commandments that will guarantee something more than virtual likes – real life customers!

The first commandment of successful Facebook marketing is:

Choose your likes wisely

If you were a travelling salesman, you wouldn’t want to be knocking on the wrong doors all day, would you? In the era of Facebook, you wouldn’t want to have the wrong people liking your page. So make it a priority to figure out the exact demographic structure of the audience you want to reach, and go for it. The best way to achieve this is to use the ‘‘promote page’’ option given by Facebook, which allows you to choose the exact age, geographical area and the period of your post and/or page being promoted.

For example, if you were a beauty salon owner in Newcastle you could target females in the local area and within a certain distance and age group for a promotion you were running.

The second commandment of successful Facebook marketing is:

Keep ’em engaged

If your business keeps popping up on the news feed and has interesting and engaging posts, your current and future customers are bound to remember you.

A very common technique I get my clients to do is to pose a direct question to their audience, sometimes giving them a choice between two products, other times asking them for their opinion on the best product.

Decorate every post with a high-quality, attractive image that will not only take up more space in the news feed, but also draw your audience’s attention straight to your post.

Keep track of which kind of announcements attract the most engagement, and use that formula over and over again.

You should also consider different kinds of offers, rewards and promotional coupons, which will minimally decrease your profits while making your customers feel appreciated and will motivate them to talk to others about the fantastic offers your company gives.

The third commandment of successful Facebook marketing is:

Be there for your fans

Nobody wants to wait days before they receive an answer to their question, or go through the hassle of sending an email that they first had to extract from the Facebook page.

Make sure to keep the instant message setting on your page turned on, and respond to every post on your wall, even if it is criticising you. Nothing makes customers think ‘‘irresponsible!’’ more than a bunch of unanswered wall posts and an out-of-date Facebook page.

It is a lot of fun using your Face-book page to build your reputation and reach those who matter the most for your business.

Jaimie Abbott is the owner of Jaimie Abbott Communications, a public relations and marketing agency based in Newcastle