Solopreneurs – Is Facebook Right for your Business?

Facebook Sign - should your nonprofit, ngo, or charitable organization be using Facebook?

If you are a solopreneur, or self-employed professional, you’ve probably considered using Facebook as a marketing tool. But is it the right tool for your business or professional practice?

Let’s start with the benefits of Facebook.

  1. Nearly everyone you know has a Facebook profile
  2. Nearly everyone you know uses Facebook daily
  3. It follows that every one that will use your services or buy your product is also on Facebook!

But does that automatically mean you should use Facebook for marketing?

Not necessarily!

Let’s dive a bit deeper. Why are people using Facebook, and what do they want and expect from this particular social media network?

  1. Communicating with family and friends
  2. Keeping up with what friends and family are doing
  3. Letting family and friends know what we are up to
  4. Managing events, inviting others to events, and responding to event invitations
  5. Entertainment; checking out interesting and/or humorous memes
  6. Watching videos
  7. Learning new things and keeping up with different kinds of news

While not completely inclusive, the above list is pretty representative. You’ll notice that only the last item on my list has any real relationship to the marketing objectives of most businesses.

We are facing a dilemma, aren’t we?

All of our potential clients are on Facebook, but most of them are not using it to learn about new products or services, or to network with business interests.

How to use Facebook to Maximum Effect

The most important aspect of using Facebook for business interests is to use the technology appropriately.

Do NOT use your personal Facebook profile for business purposes! That is a surefire way to alienate friends and family, while simultaneously over-sharing with business related contacts. Your family does not want to know more about your business than you share with them at dinner, and your business contacts and potential clients, would probably be happier if you spared them photographs of you, shirtless at the cottage with a beer in one hand and a case of empties at your feet!

Set up a Facebook Business Page!

In my humble opinion every business of every type should have a business page on Facebook. Even if we recognize that Facebook is not our ideal social media marketing platform, we should have a presence there. Essentially, Facebook has become a secondary website. Just as people expect that every serious business will have some sort of web site, people now expect that every serious business will have a Facebook business page.

A business page is strictly business. It is managed from your Facebook personal account, but is separate from it. Posts made to your business page can be set to be from you personally (which makes sense if you are your business), or from the page name, which makes sense if your business brand is not the same as your name.

It is not difficult to set up the business page, Facebook has instructions, and easy to follow prompts, for doing so. And professional help from people like me is also readily available.

You Have a Page – Now What?

Let’s start with the basic “must do” stuff. A header image, a logo image (or professional head shot). Descriptions of your products and services, and of course invitations to “Like” your page sent out to your personal Facebook contacts. Add a couple of interesting posts over the next few days, and you’re set to go.

The really big question now needs to be answered in earnest. How much effort, time, and money should you spend on an ongoing basis of your business’s Facebook presence?

This takes us back to the dilemma we talked about at the beginning of this article. And here is how we are going to resolve the dilemma. We will ask ourselves the following two questions:

  1. Who is my ideal client?
  2. Is my ideal client likely to be responsive to my business interests via Facebook?

The concept of an “ideal client” is fundamental to all marketing efforts, whether through traditional (predigital) channels, or through contemporary digital channels like social media. Once you have a profile of your ideal client, you can answer the second question.

In broad terms, if your ideal client is an individual consumer, it’s reasonable to expect that your Facebook page is going to be very important to reaching out to them. Facebook has built its social network around individual consumers. In fact, we as individuals, are Facebook’s “product”. Facebook users are the product that Facebook sells to advertisers.

On the other hand, if your ideal client is another business—you are a B2B enterprise, Facebook is less likely to be your social media platform of choice. Keep your business page active. Check in on it from time to time. Be especially responsive to any inquiries or posts made to it, but don’t spend hours of time or thousands of dollars promoting it. Your basic presence there will probably suffice.

Your “Ideal Client” is a Consumer on Facebook

Here is where things get interesting. Once you have a Facebook business page, you can hope and pray that people will find it. Fortunately, some people will. Mostly they’ll be your friends, family, and most active customers. That’s great. But it’s clearly not enough. Those are the people that you communicate regularly with in other forums.

For your Facebook business page to be really useful, you are going to need to reach out, and that is almost certainly going to involve an advertising spend. Sure, you’ve been told that social media marketing can be done for free, and that has been the case (besides your investment in time) right up to the completion of your page setup. But since your ideal client is using Facebook, you’re going to need to find a way to be seen by them.

Fortunately this is where Facebook’s business model really shines. Because Facebook users are Facebook’s product, and because Facebook knows nearly everything about every user, it becomes exceptionally easy to be extremely granular about who will see your Facebook ads. There is literally no other advertising platform that allows such precision targeting. Is your ideal client a 35 year old single woman who is looking to be a condominium in Toronto? No problem! Target your ad to female Facebook users between the ages of 32 and 39 who have interests in real estate, condos, lofts, and home decor. Is your ideal client a 21 year old who likes to listen to live music in Oshawa? No problem. Target your ad to 19 to 25 year olds, living within 20 km of Oshawa who like local bands and dance music.

Keep at it. Stay engaged. Build your like list. And, as always, offer something of value on your Facebook page. Once you’ve managed to bring someone to your page, it is vitally important to keep that person engaged. At the end of the day you want all the time, energy, and money that you’ve invested to translate into sales, and lasting, mutually beneficial business relationships.

Want to talk about this a bit more? Contact me!