A Guide to Using Facebook for Freelance Copywriters, Small Businesses and Professionals
April 9, 2009 • Glenn Murray
By Angie Haggstrom, Freedom Freelance.
Facebook is a lot like your very own reception room. It’s a spot for professionals and small businesses to interact and introduce themselves to others, a sneak peak of who you are. If you’re going to make the most of it, branding and awareness should be your main focus. In short, you want to attract others to you, while going out and showing others what you’re made of!
And to do that, you need to know a few tricks…
Clients want to feel they can connect with you. So you should fill out your profile properly, using a good, personal picture, a list of interests, favourite things, etc. You also want to make sure that your genuine personality shines through in anything you write. (Especially if you’re a copywriter, because people won’t be able to help but judge your skills by your profile.)
Have the right tabs or profile boxes added to your main profile. If you’re a copywriter, the ‘Notes’ portion is extremely important. (You can feed the RSS of your blog into it, for example. See how I’ve done it.) If a web designer, you might want to add additional applications to show off your work, or even how-to videos.
A few quick tips for filling out your profile:
- Don’t add too many ‘fun’ applications. You’ll regret it later. Trust me.
- You want to be friendly, but do use your discretion. Writing about how you ran out of mix on the weekend and started drinking vodka with pickle juice isn’t likely to attract work. At least not the type of work you’d like to take on.
- Do optimize your content. This is how people will find you and your business. Plus, if Facebook is ever opened up to the search engines, you’ll be glad you did.
- When adding interests and other items, use keywords that are separated by commas or on separate lines for easy identification.
- Don’t be afraid to join up with your favourite charities and causes. People want to see that you’re a responsible member of the global community. In fact, this can often be a deciding factor.
- Link your other social media accounts to your Facebook wall, including your blog, Flickr, Twitter, and more. This gives you more bang for your buck out of each one, promotes your other accounts, and improves your visibility. (Found under ‘settings’ on your main wall. Application settings are under the main ‘Settings’ option in the navigation bar to add tabs, boxes, etc.)
If you really want to start promoting yourself or your business on Facebook, start a Page, which is actually like a profile for businesses. You can have people help you do this, or go it on your own. Either way, think of it like a newsletter for all your ‘fans’. It can also make a great landing page for promoting different aspects of your business; they are indexed by search engines, and provide you with some analytical information that can help you define your customer base.
A Page works the same as your profile to set up with status updates, photo and notes applications. When you fill out all of the sections for the page, be friendly and make people feel you’re approachable, but give it a bit more of a professional edge than you would a personal profile. (When you convert ‘fans’ to ‘friends’ on your personal profile, it will help build on that connection and make them feel like they’re in the ‘inner circle’.)
Quick tips for using Facebook Pages for business:
- The Static FBML application is a must have. This allows you to better customize your Page giving users a much better experience. You can also use it to pick up subscribers (*hint* *hint*).
- It doesn’t matter whether you add to this every day, once a week, or once a month, but be sure to add to it on a regular basis. This might be letting your fans in on what you’ve been up to, offering them a ‘Facebook Fan-Only Promotion’, or giving them a post that will help them get more from your products and services (for example, how they can use article marketing more effectively).
- Resist the urge to post the same things on your personal profile. It makes you appear artificial and degrades the importance of the connections you build there.
- Blog feeds do appear in the notes application, but be sure to add things directly to the notes application on occasion. This shows clients there’s a benefit to connecting with you there.
To create a place that gives you the ultimate interaction with your clients, Groups are the ideal function on Facebook. Anyone belonging to the group can post information, chat, or just browse through and have fun. Like your Profile or company Page, you want to update this regularly with information.
How you fill out the group information is extremely important. Like your company Page, you want to have a bit more of a professional edge. However, because people might stumble upon your group through the search function without knowing much about you, use the main section at the top of the group like a well-written ‘About’ page, with an inverted style. Tell them what your business can do for them, explain why your company is the best (i.e. cite benefits), and then tell your story.
Other than that, you want to use this much as you would a company Page or your Profile: provide information and engage members.
Quick tips for getting the most from your Group:
- Anyone can create a Group about your company. While this can be a good thing, it can be a bad thing if you don’t do it first.
- Lead the group by providing value, but be sure to ask questions and draw members into the group. That’s the number one reason Groups often die off.
- Give unique information and keep it updated.
- This function puts discussions about you, your company and your industry directly on your radar. Don’t ignore it, guide it in the right direction!
- Be sure to give people a place to vent as well as praise.
- It doesn’t always have to be about the company itself. Discuss industry news, provide related information, or even something totally unrelated. For example, if you join Kiva, don’t be afraid to promote that here.
- You want as many members as possible. In fact, a small group (with fewer than, say, 10 members) can be detrimental to your online community. To avoid this, build up your page fans first, or be sure to get a fair number of clients to commit to joining before launching the Group.
- You can set the privacy level of your group. To attract the most members possible, consider leaving the group open to the public.
- Sweeten the deal by offering group members something special when they join. It doesn’t have to be big. A small discount, audio file, or even a small report work nicely.
General Tips for Using Facebook
Now that you know a little more about the main Facebook Features and can set them up successfully, here are a few tips to help you get the most from your Facebook experience.
- Ask questions. This makes it easier for you to better serve your clients, and it makes the client feel important. When they feel important, they’re more likely to participate.
- Applications can really suck your time away. Avoid the needless ones and spend more time on the ones that matter.
- If you’re having trouble keeping up, consider sharing responsibilities with someone else. And be sure to set limits for yourself. Tools such as browser add-ons can make it easy to keep up with what’s going on at Facebook.
- Promote your site, services, and other social media profiles on Facebook. But, be sure to do the opposite as well by having links or a badge to Facebook on your blog and business cards, and by Twittering about it, and adding the link to other locations to keep the momentum up.
- Find other people, Groups, and Pages who have similar interests to you. Don’t just swoop down on them like a vulture, though. Start by engaging then in conversations and showing them the value of connecting with you, without looking like a know-it-all. Other Groups with a target-rich environment are a good place to start.
- Go out to other pages and actively offer value to others. Answer questions, offer advice, help out with different events. Show them what you’re made of. Don’t be afraid of your competitors either!
- Check your privacy and application settings before you get going too far down the road. Otherwise, you could have everything set to ‘no one’ and everyone will miss out on the good stuff. I have mine set as public and as open as possible to ensure that everyone knows I’m approachable.
- When you want to find out more about your client base, or you’re really curious about how you can do something better, use Facebook’s Polling function to ask your most loyal fans. After all, no one else will have the answers!
- ‘Trolls’ are common. Learn to recognize them, and deal with them effectively. In other words, don’t add fuel to the fire.
I’d like to leave you with one last little tidbit: no matter what social network you choose to include in your business, always remember to be the real you. That alone will gain you more business than any other marketing tactic in the world.
Other sources you might find helpful:
- Facebook for Business: Opportunties and Limitations
- Inside Facebook
- Using Facebook for Business – A Real Life Example
- 12 Ways to Use Facebook Professionally
- 5 Tips for Optimizing Your Brand’s Facebook Presence
- Facebook Grader
About the Author
Angie Haggstrom is the head writer at Freedom Freelance, specializing in on and offline content. She’s also the founder of the soon to launch, Intuitive Social Media Image, and contributing writer at SEO Scoop. She can be reached at 1.306.662.2239, [email protected] or you can follow her on Twitter.