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Sooner or later everyone who runs a business is told that they need to use social media to build their audience. It’s a topic I’ve covered in the past in a webinar about how to use social media to promote your training business.
Personally, I’m a big fan of social media and have attracted many clients through my social media use but I know that some people are not convinced that it’s right for their business. You may be one of those people or maybe you’re keen to develop your social media strategy but you’re not sure where to start.
In this week’s blog, I wanted to look at using Facebook to build your training business. Why focus on Facebook specifically? Well, let’s start with a look at the numbers that matter to businesses on this social media behemoth.
Facebook business pages in numbers
According to a recent post on the DMR website in May 2015 rounding up all the current stats available about Facebook from the company and in the media, there are now 50 million Facebook pages, 40 million of which represent small businesses.
There are estimated to be over two billion connections between local businesses and their customers on Facebook; 645 local business pages are viewed every week and 13 million people take the time to comment on local business pages weekly.
Figures would suggest that each click through from Facebook to a website is worth $1.24 (approximately 79p) to the business concerned, while other stats suggest that the amount spent per order by a Facebook consumer is $55 (£35 approx.).
In the UK, 33% of people say they trust a brand more if it has a presence on social media and 47% of people believe that Facebook is the quickest social media channel to solve customer service issues.
As we can see, Facebook continues to be ‘the one to beat’ when it comes to popularity and engagement, and it would appear that customers expect to see businesses on the platform.
Why your training business needs a Facebook presence
One of the most compelling stats that I’ve read is from a survey by G/O Digital back in August 2014, which found that approximately 60% of people check a company’s Facebook page before buying from them – this is particularly the case for people choosing a local supplier, product or service. The survey also found that 58% of people engage with advertising from small businesses on Facebook before making a purchase.
Knowing that such a high proportion of people refer to Facebook as a decision-making tool, particularly looking for good reviews/testimonials and other positive feedback, I think it is important – even essential – to have a Facebook presence for your training business.
The pros and cons of Facebook
As we can see, using Facebook as a marketing tool has many advantages – the users are there, people expect to find businesses on the platform, and engagement can build trust, reputation and sales.
On the flipside, one of the biggest challenges for Facebook page admins is how to build engagement without a big budget. The first step is to get people to like your page but to do this you need to create targeted content that people want to like, comment on and share with their wider network. Unfortunately, Facebook’s algorithms mean that not everyone who likes your Facebook page will see what you post. People have to keep interacting with your page if they want to see your content but how can they do this if they don’t see what you post? Many people feel this is a vicious cycle for small business pages.
There are several ways around this. It’s important to be strategic about using Facebook to build your training business.
- Who do you want to reach?
- What do you want to say to them?
- What do you want them to do?
- Are you trying to build your reputation?
- Do you want people to click through to your website and book?
- Do you want to build your network?
By understanding who you want your Facebook page to appeal to and why, it’s far easier to create content that the right people will want to like, comment on and share. Once a person starts regularly interacting with your page, they should see your content more often.
In terms of maximising your organic reach, I’ve found that the best strategy is to be consistent. It is better to post on a daily basis (preferably several times a day) as, when you leave your page silent for days or weeks at a time, your organic reach can significantly drop off when you become active on the page again.
Using Facebook insights
The Facebook insights that you can view as the ‘Admin’ for your page will help you identify your most popular posts. Are they statuses, photos, questions, videos or something else? Through the insights, you can see which content gets shared, what attracts comments or likes, what time of day people use your page, the demographic of your audience, and much more.
Recent stats suggest that Fridays are the best day for engagement on Facebook but you might find that another day and time is better for your business, depending on the demographic of your likers.
There’s a fantastic free tool at www.likealyzer.com, which helps you monitor and analyse how your Facebook business page is performing. Simply pop your Facebook page’s URL into the search bar and Likealyzer will give you a breakdown of what you’re doing well, where there’s room for improvement and some recommendations that should make a difference to engagement.
When people do engage with your page, it’s important to respond quickly and professionally – answer messages as soon as possible, like or reply to comments, and make it clear that there’s a human being behind the page. I think this is especially important for training businesses as clients are looking for rapport with their trainers.
With 890 million people signing into Facebook every day, you may reach a point when you want to consider boosting important posts or paying for Facebook ads, which can be carefully targeted to your high value clients to make the most of your advertising budget.
Hubspot recently posted an excellent blog about creating Facebook ads that work and I found this cheat sheet from Purrfectly Social about using Facebook’s Power Editor. Many businesses agree that, once you get to grips with Facebook ads, they are incredibly effective.
Create a Facebook group
The ability to set up a group on Facebook is great news for freelance trainers. Creating a group is quick and easy – you can make it open to anyone, closed or even secret, so you decide whether you have an open door policy to grow your network or whether you want to invite select members in for collaboration and networking.
Facebook groups are free to create and run, and you are able to set the agenda. You might want to create a mastermind group, a group for associates, a networking group, a group for clients…the options are endless. Alternatively, you could join an existing group. I find that being active in groups, responding to questions and generally being recognised as someone who wants to support other people can be a good source of recommendations and referrals.
My top ten tips for Facebook
Using Facebook for business is a topic that could run and run. I know a major concern is the amount of time that you can waste on social media, which is why I always stress that it’s important to be strategic and use any social media platform with a plan. Facebook has a scheduling tool to enable you to schedule your posts in batches so you don’t have to be on Facebook throughout the day. I usually plan my posts in an Excel document and spend 10 minutes at the end of the week scheduling ahead. I also add in some spontaneous posts throughout the week.
Another helpful tool is the Facebook Pages Manager app, which lets you manage every aspect of your Facebook page from your phone or tablet – great for when you’re out and about.
Finally, I’ve put together my top ten tips for making the most of your Facebook business page:
- Check your notifications and messages daily and respond to each message
- Update your status at least once a day
- Like two other pages a week from your business page that will appeal to your customers (or even pages of your potential customers)
- Like, comment on or share at least four posts on other pages every week – this will help you start a conversation, build your reputation and grow your network
- Post an article that’s relevant to your high value clients every week (preferably from your own blog)
- Ask happy clients to share their testimonials on your page or post testimonials you have received from training sessions
- Use photos and videos on your page as they are great for engagement
- To encourage activity, make sure that you tag a person or business when you mention them (do this by typing @ before their name so that Facebook gives you the tagging option) – this will notify the person or page that has been tagged
- Use hashtags so people can find your page when they search for a specific topic or find all the content you have posted that features a particular topic
- Use the ‘call to action’ facility on the header of your Facebook page to get sign-ups to your newsletter or free download, or to encourage bookings