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Facebook, the world's favorite social networking platform, is the ideal place to connect with potential clients. Having a Facebook page for your freelance business gives you the opportunity to engage with prospects, developing a relationship so that when they need help, you're the freelancer they turn to first.
However, many new freelancers face the problem of how to grow their Facebook fan base. Just like getting your first client is the biggest and often the most difficult step in a freelancer's career, getting your first Facebook fans is the biggest and often the most difficult step in growing your Facebook Page.
Having a few hundred fans gets the ball rolling, and helps you grow in two ways. First, you have the social proof of a dedicated fan base. Second, those fans help you spread the word about your business to their friends.
What can you do to get your first few hundred Facebook fans?
There are ways you can grow your Facebook page organically for free. However, if you've got a few dollars to spare, going for an ad campaign can give your Page the boost it needs quickly. I've known freelancers who've picked up 100's of fans overnight from a simple, low-cost ad campaign.
Done right, ads can help you grow and reach your business goals. Get it wrong, and you could end up pouring your hard earned dollars into a white elephant.
How can you write a Facebook ad that works?
To complete this tutorial you will need:
- A Facebook Page for your freelance business.
- Images (or access to images. Stock photography is fine).
- Image editing software.
- A text editor.
1. Prepare for Success
The success of your Facebook ad isn't only in the copy. It's also in the work you do before you even start writing.
Step 1: Check Facebook's Ad Guidelines
Facebook has a strict set of rules on what you can and can't include in your ad.
Most of the rules are obvious (be a decent human being!), but it's worth taking five minutes to make sure you don't shoot yourself in the foot with an ad that flouts Facebook's rules.
Step 2: Decide Who to Target
When you write an ad for Google, you target people with keywords. That way, you know your ad shows up for people searching for the service or product you provide. In that respect, Google ads are about what people want.
Facebook's different. People don't use Facebook to find solutions to problems. They go there to catch up with friends. Facebook is about people, and as such, Facebook ads target particular groups of people. Facebook ads are about who you want to engage with.
If you haven't done so before, it's time to think about the type of people you want to work with, and the type of people who need your services. Sit down and ask yourself:
- Where do they live?
- How old are they?
- What do they do in their free time?
- What business are they in?
- What's their family status?
Facebook lets you target all of these aspects in ads. You can select everything from activities your target audience is interested in (from food to gardening to literature) to their interests (from beer to politics), to the films, movies and sports they like. You can check out the full range of categories at Facebook's Create an Ad page.
For some freelancers, the interests of their clients will be obvious. If you're a landscape gardener, or an interior designer, you can target those with a "Home and Garden" interest. If you provide web design services to restaurants, then aiming your ads at dedicated foodies is a safe bet. However, other freelancers may have to dig a little deeper.
Consider sending out a survey to find out the demographics and interests of your current client base, so you know who to target. As a bonus, a survey where you allow respondents to craft their own answers will help you write your ad copy in a way that directly engages your target audience.
Step 3: Sharpen Your Focus
The tighter the focus of your ad, the better it will perform.
You may discover your clients' interests and demographics fall into several distinct groups. If this is the case, consider running a separate ad campaign for each group.
Step 4: Set a Budget
Advertising can be expensive, and during a campaign it's easy to get carried away by the thrill of the chase. As such, it's a good idea to set a budget for your campaign so you can hold yourself to that when you're tempted to splash out "just five bucks more".
Even a small budget can return significant results for a well-written ad.
2. Write Your Ad
As Facebook ads have been around for a few years, marketers have uncovered the types of ads that perform best. Even Facebook have chipped in with what works when writing an ad. Here are the steps to give your ad the best chance of success.
Step 1: Write Some Ads
It sounds obvious, but the best way to write ads is to write ads. With Facebook ads, the more ideas you can put together the better, as if you're running an extended campaign you'll want to try several different ads.
If you can, come up with at least 20 ad ideas. Each one can be up to 90 characters long. However, shorter can be better, so don't feel obliged to fill your character allocation.
Once you're done, use the following steps to tweak your best ideas.
Step 2: Pick Your Focus
Give your ad a specific focus. People want to know exactly what they’ll get out of liking your ad or engaging with your company.
Give your ad a specific focus. People want to know exactly what they'll get out of liking your ad or engaging with your company. For example, promoting your ebook will draw more engagement than promoting your business in general.
You can focus on a specific service or product. To make your ad even more powerful, also focus on the benefits of working with you.
"Try our Twitter audit to generate 10% more leads from your tweets" will perform better than "Check out our website to find out how to do better on Twitter."
Step 3: Be Proud of Who You Are
According to Facebook's research time, ads that include the name of the company they're promoting perform better. Tweak your copy to include the name of your business.
Say who the advertiser is. In other words, include the name of your business in your advert.
Step 4: Inject Personality
Do the tone of your ads reflect your brand image and personality? Are they written in a way you'd speak to a friend? Ads that attract clicks give a strong sense of your company just from their tone.
If you feel stuck with this, just have fun! Write as many wild and wacky ad ideas as you can think of. You don't have to use them, but by letting rip, you're opening the flow of your creativity.
On top of having personality, your ads should be upbeat. The best performing ads make people smile, share interesting information, or leave viewers with a positive feeling.
Step 5: Ask For What You Want
It's a simple fact of marketing (and life in general) that if you ask for what you want, you're more likely to get it.
Conclude your ad with a call to action. Use a phrase such as "Click to like".
Step 6: Rinse and Repeat
Once you've run through these steps with one of your ad ideas, go back and do it again with another.
There's three reasons for this. First, ideas spark ideas, so the more you work on your ads, the more ideas you'll come up with.
Second, Facebook ads have a short shelf life. If you're targeting your ad well, the same people will keep seeing your ad over and over again, so it will get old fast.
Typically, interest in ads drops off after 3-5 days. If you're planning a campaign longer than this, you'll need to mix things up to maintain interest, so it's a good idea to have a series of ads up your sleeve.
Third (I know I'm repeating myself here, but this is vital), ads work best if they're targeted. By writing more ads, you can target different ads at different groups.
Step 7: Add Images
While this tutorial is primarily about the copy of your ad, the images you choose are also key to success. The most effective images:
- Stand out from the crowd. Bright colors and an attention grabbing image are key here.
- Use smiling faces - as long as they're relevant to your ad. Don't be shy if that means using an image of yourself. Facebook is a social network, and people relate to people.
- Colored borders grab attention, especially if the color contrasts with Facebook's blues and whites.
- Make sure your image reinforces the message and your brand's personality.
3. Run Your Campaign
With your ad copy written and your image prepared, you can launch your campaign on Facebook.
No ad is perfect, so it's okay to feel nervous at this stage. Besides, as you run your ad, you can use the stats from the campaign as feedback to improve your future ads.
Step 1: Launch Your Campaign
Head over to Facebook's Create an Ad page. You'll be asked to input everything you've prepared, including your budget, who you want to target, your ad copy and image.
Step 2: Monitor and Tweak
Check in daily to see how your campaign is going. The more you're willing to tweak, and try out different ideas for your copy and images, the better your results will be.
In simple terms, see what works, and do more of it!