I’ll be honest, I first joined Facebook because my high school sons were using it, but quickly it became much more than a parenting tool. Facebook became a place to share my creativity with friends and family, and overtime I recognized that my freelance business was growing because of my Facebook presence.
My business has enjoyed steady growth over the past three years. My invoice totals at the end of 2012 were up 60% from 2011. Many factors account for that growth, but I believe Facebook gets most of the credit.
If you are a small business owner you can do the same. To start you should understand and accept these two facts:
- You can’t separate yourself from your business, and you don’t want to. Your personal identity is your business identity.
- People want to do business with someone they feel like they know personally.
My Facebook Audience
Understanding my audience is key. Each group brings something different to the equation.
Family – includes husband, sons, mom, aunts, uncles, cousins, cousins kids, and in laws
Friends – these relationships are mostly long standing and go beyond Facebook. Many friendships have been strengthened because of Facebook.
Acquaintances – past classmates & coworkers, neighbors, community members, people I meet while networking, friends of friends
Colleagues – people that share similar creative passions or career paths. Some are also personal friends. Many I have met online and/or at Photoshop World. Some colleagues are industry leaders whom I admire and aspire to achieve similar status. Many colleagues have become friends because of Facebook.
Family and friends are my biggest fans. They strengthen my confidence and encourage me to keep working on becoming a better me. They will never be my clients. Friends of family members won’t be clients either. There is too great a chance that they will expect the “family rate”, and if even if they don’t, a bad business deal could strain a family relationship and nothing is worth that.
ACQUAINTANCES BECOME CLIENTS AND SO DO FRIENDS OF ACQUAINTANCES.
Colleagues inspire me. I learn from them and turn to them when I need help.
This diverse community is what makes Facebook so valuable. My acquaintances get to know me personally and professionally. They see my communications with other industry professionals. This in turn legitimizes my expertise and gains their respect for my knowledge. They see my photography and the positive comments from friends and family. This tells them that I am creative and other people are fans of my work. My acquaintances see posts from me nearly every day, so I am on their mind when they need an artist, or know someone else who needs one.
Personal Facebook Page vs Business Page
Anyone with a business should have a business page, but a personal page will probably generate more business, especially in the beginning. Here’s why:
- Facebook requires you to have a personal account before starting a business page.
- It’s easier to make Facebook friends than it is to find Facebook fans.
- People prefer to work with people they know. The people you already know will become your clients and/or refer you to people they know.
So why have a Facebook business page at all?
- Business page content is public and can be viewed by non Facebook members
- A business page is easy to set up and can serve the same function as a website, providing public access to your portfolio and contact information.
- Facebook is FREE. There are no annual hosting fees.
I have a business page. Admittedly I need to do a better job at updating it, but my business is growing despite that. People read my business page to learn more about Orchard View Color. I link to it when introducing myself to prospective clients, but new business has never come to me through my business page. On the contrary, many new projects have come my way as a direct result of what I share on my personal Facebook page.
As I previously stated, it is not possible to separate who I am personally from the identity of Orchard View Color. Keeping two accounts updated is challenging. I see the same challenges faced by my colleagues who’s business and personal pages are so similar that I often forget which is which. I’ve chosen to use my business page more like a portfolio where I post recent work and business accomplishments. My personal page updates are more personal, but always conscious of potential clients in the audience.
BE POSITIVE It’s okay to share an occasional frustration or setback, but always follow it with a silver lining, or lesson learned.
BE CONSISTENT Share something almost every day.
TALK ABOUT YOUR WORK Do this on your personal page even if you have a business page. Updates to your personal page can be casual. Mention that you are doing invoices, or paying quarterly taxes, or going to a client lunch meeting. Talk about how you stayed up until the wee hours of the night finishing a big project.
ASK QUESTIONS This encourages dialog from your friends and followers.
CELEBRATE YOUR SUCESS It’s not bragging. Your family and friends want you to succeed and your acquaintances want to work with successful people.
SHARE YOUR PASSIONS WTH IMAGES I love Photoshop, photography and making pretty pictures. My images say a lot about me. Pictures are easy content and universally enjoyed and appreciated.
You don’t have to be an artist or a photographer to make this work for you. Maybe you are a realtor who loves to garden. Share pictures of your garden. Maybe you are an accountant who collects antiques. Share pictures of your antiques. When you share your passions you will make connections with your acquaintances and increase the likelihood that they will hire you for your business.
SHARE PICTURES OF YOURSELF Nobody wants to hire a logo
ENGAGE Comment on other’s posts. Answer questions, ask questions, tell someone why you like what they have shared.
Facebook doesn’t show you every post by every person you follow. It uses an algorithm to decide what posts you see or don’t based in part by how much interaction you have with that person. The more you interact, the more you will be seen and the more likely your followers will interact back with you.
DON’T GET POLITICAL We are all way too passionate about our politics. Whatever your views are, 50% of others are going to disagree. I’ve unfriended people because of their political posts. I’ve hidden even more. I have very passionate views and if you follow me closely you probably know what they are, but I do strive to keep politics out of my Facebook posts.
Don’t even click “like” on posts shared by political pages you follow. When you do so, your friends will see it in their Facebook feed under your name. Half of them will think less of you because of it.
DON’T SHARE AN ALBUM WITH 100 PICTURES Not even 25, maybe a dozen of the very best images from an event. Only your mom will look at all 100.
I usually share one image at a time. Facebook displays single image posts larger than album posts. This draws the most attention. I always get more comments and likes when sharing a single image.
DON’T BE NEGATIVE Don’t complain about clients. Don’t put other people down. Don’t act like you know everything about everything. Don’t critique someone’s work unless they ask for it. These should be obvious, but I’ve witnessed all of them on Facebook.
DON’T FORGET YOUR AUDIENCE My new business opportunities have mostly come from acquaintances who never comment on my posts. It’s easy to forget that they are there, but they are watching and paying attention.
DON’T ACCEPT FRIEND REQUESTS FROM EVERYONE There are some strange people out there. You can afford to be selective. Trust your instincts.
DON’T PRETEND TO BE SOMEONE YOU’RE NOT My graphics business is just me. Sometimes I sub contract parts of projects, but that is irrelevant to my clients. I never represent my business as anything other than a sole proprietorship.
What are you waiting for? Find everyone you know and share something with them on facbook today.