The Pew Research Center’s “Social Media Update 2014” report suggests that 71% of all internet users are active on Facebook in some capacity.
It stands to reason that if you’re on Facebook, your clients are as well. So what if, instead of relying on job board listings or Craigslist applications to find new customers, you leveraged the social connections that already exist on this powerful network? It is possible to find clients on Facebook, though you’ll need to take a sensitive approach to this non-traditional marketing technique.
Step #1 – Create a Public Page for Your Business
Your first step to attracting new clients on Facebook should be to set up a public page for your business. Even if you already have a personal account to communicate with friends and family members, there are a number of compelling reasons to separate your personal activity from your business profile:
- Consistency of messaging. You’ve had a long day dealing with a frustrating client, and all you want to do is log on to Facebook and vent about it. Your friends will understand – potential customers who are visiting your page to learn more about your business won’t. Keeping the two audiences separated allows you to control the conversation surrounding your brand and create a more consistent message.
- Business-centered promotional features. At the same time, creating a business Facebook page allows you to take advantage of certain features that would be out-of-place on a personal profile. For example, on your business page, you can customize the tabs at the top of your page to point directly to the “Hire Me” page on your website, or you can include a header graphic that promotes your business in some way.
- Search engine visibility. Facebook pages tend to rank well in the search engine results pages, so creating this new web presence gives you yet another opportunity to get your business noticed by people searching for the kind of work you do. If your website is relatively new and unknown, you may even be surprised to find that your Facebook ranks higher in the natural search results than your site!
If you haven’t already created a new Facebook page for your business, get started by following the simple steps here.
Step #2 – Promote Your Public Page
Putting together a Facebook page for your business is only one part of the equation. There are thousands upon thousands of these pages out there – how will you use yours to get the attention of potential customers?
- Be loud and proud. Don’t be the freelancer who’s so modest about his or her work that nobody ever finds out about your Facebook page! Hustling is a big part of freelance success, and it’s no different when it comes to getting your page seen. Share your business page on your personal account, put a link to it everywhere you can think of (including, for example, your website, your other social accounts and even your email signature), and consider experimenting with paid ads to see if you can generate a meaningful ROI from this social site.
- Share excellent quality content. Now that you have a page, you need to share content on it. If your time is limited, keep things simple. But if you have more time to invest in social media marketing, make it a point to share high-value content using the formats that your Facebook analytics report as resonating best with your audience.
- Connect with others. Facebook is, at its core, a social network. So get social! Instead of hoping others will find your page naturally, reach them where they are by commenting on other peoples’ pages, sharing posts from others in your industry and responding to those that do comment on your page. The more you can cultivate a sense of “being everywhere,” the more people will come to know your brand and recognize you as a top provider in your industry.
Step #3 – Join Relevant Community Groups
Finally, the real secret to freelance marketing success on Facebook comes from the liberal, yet appropriate, use of the platform’s Groups feature.
Ever since its creation, the Groups tool has led to the initiation of thousands upon thousands of small communities on the site. These communities might be based around a shared goal – for example, losing weight after pregnancy – or around a shared interest, such as a mutual love of the band U2. As a freelancer, there are two types of groups you’ll want to pay particular attention to:
- Groups of freelancers sharing job leads (like, for instance, the “Facebook4Freelancers” group), or
- Groups where your target clients are hanging out. Online fitness trainers, as an example, may find a healthy supply of new clients in the pregnancy weight loss group mentioned earlier.
Of course, no mention of using Facebook Groups to find new clients would be complete without a discussion of appropriate standards of conduct. If you’re in a job lead sharing group, promoting your freelance business might be fitting, but in our sample weight loss group? Absolutely not!
Group users who are active in their communities view them as safe spaces. And just as you wouldn’t want a salesperson coming up to your lunch table and interrupting you and your friends with a sales pitch, Group participants won’t take kindly to those they see as taking advantage of their community.
That doesn’t mean that you should avoid these Groups altogether – it just means that you need to modulate your approach. Instead of a direct pitch, try to make yourself useful. Answer questions that other users are struggling with and offer assistance when possible. As Group members come to view you as a trusted source of information, they’ll naturally want to learn more about you. And when they go to your page and discover what it is you do, they’ll keep you top-of-mind whenever their needs for your type of freelancing services arise.
Certainly, promoting your business this way is a longer-term approach that requires consistent investment and monitoring. But the effort can be well worth the payoff if you think in terms of overall reach. Even if the members of your Group don’t have an immediate need for your services, who’s to say they won’t refer you to friends and acquaintances who do? It is possible to drive a steady stream of business through Facebook participation – as long as you’re willing to put in the work needed to reap these rewards.
Do you use Facebook to promote your freelance business? Share the tips and tricks you’ve picked up by leaving a comment below!