Your brand’s Facebook page can be a great resource to garner ideas, creativity, and feedback from your fans — if it’s done correctly.

Crowdsourcing encompasses the idea of outsourcing tasks to the community through an open call — in most cases, it describes a call for creative input to collaboratively reach a goal, and usually this happens via social media.

This tactic can cut through the noise and build meaningful connections with your consumers or community.

So how do businesses apply crowdsourcing to their Facebook strategy? What are the best practices of creating Facebook contests, polls, and surveys to engage fans? Here are some dos and don’ts.

Do set boundaries. You want your contests to be an open forum for your customers and fans to share with you, but you need to set guidelines to keep that engagement productive and appropriate. Create house rules to outline what’s acceptable and what isn’t.

Don’t create irrelevant contests. Your contests, polls, and open-ended questions that ask for creative input should all tie into your brand. For example – a nonprofit tied to healthcare wouldn’t ask their Facebook fans about their favorite summer dishes. Keep it connected to your brand and aligned with your publicity and marketing strategy.

Do use a seasonal spin. Consumers love to engage with seasonally-tied promotions and it gives your contests and promotions a timely feel. For example, a restaurant owner could ask Facebook fans which fall ingredients they would like to see most in the eatery’s autumn menu.

Don’t push your products or service. Crowdsourcing should be about connecting and collaborating with your fans, not selling to them.

Do know where to draw the line with open engagement. Anytime you open up the floor for your audience to participate, you’re going to need to have a plan in place for how to respond to negative feedback, defamatory posts, or inappropriate or vulgar comments, photos, and so on. Make sure you and your social media team are on the same page about deleting or responding to negative or defamatory content posted by your fans.

Don’t stop trying if engagement and participation levels aren’t where you want them. Repeating the contests, questions, and polls on a regular basis, and you’ll condition your community to anticipate what’s coming next and this will cause a steady increase in participation.

Do offer an incentive for the winner. It can be tied to your product or service, but consider who your audience is and what prizes they would be interested in most. Create clear policies regarding how winners will be chosen and how prizes or rewards will be awarded before you begin your contest or promotion.

With 750 million people on Facebook, everyone is a potential contributor to your business or organization! So tap that resource and connect with your fans using crowdsourcing.

Guest writer Richard Spiegel is the founder and CEO of CrowdTogether.