If my Facebook profile were a kid, it would have gotten its driver’s license today. Sixteen years. I’ve been on Facebook for sixteen years, y’all. It grosses me out a little. 

The day I signed up for Facebook, some of the writers on this platform were still in diapers. I had Facebook for five years before the like button was invented. Anyone else remember that?

Like many people, my friend list has become a crazy mish-mash of past and present connections. You have your friends from school and extended family, but also professional connections you met at various events or conferences over the years

People buy from people. And that’s why Facebook is a good place to promote yourself. But a Facebook Business page isn’t great anymore for distribution. It’s like screaming into a black hole. For many entrepreneurs or side hustle-curious professionals, promoting on your personal profile is a better way to gain initial traction.

But I’ve always hated the idea of putting business-oriented social media captions out to a network of mostly non-business friends in the hopes that a few fish will bite.

Then my new business coach tipped me off to a workaround that really has me moving and grooving on Facebook. So here it is: To promote your business or side hustle on Facebook with reckless abandon, segment your friend list into avatar and non-avatar categories.

In this article, I’ll go over why you should consider it, how to set it up, and types of posts to consider. Let’s do this.

Why Segment Your Facebook Profile Friend List?

Everyone pooped their pants in my comments section last summer when I shared about making $20K in my first month back in the consulting saddle. “How did you get the audience for this initial push?” is the most frequently-asked question, especially since I didn’t do much email marketing at the time.

Here’s the answer: I promoted what I was up to to my personal network on Facebook.

  • I posted frequently about my upcoming products, programs, and services.
  • I personally reached out to some entrepreneur friends I had kept in touch with over the years for thoughts and feedback
  • A lot of my network wasn’t interested in my offer for themselves, but knew someone else who might want it instead and forwarded my information

Always keep this in mind: People buy from people.

So if your side hustle or online business is a service, program, or product, you’re selling that to people. Even if you’re selling to other business owners or decision-makers like I am, those decision makers are people.

Since a Facebook personal profile can’t be automated easily, many entrepreneurs and decision-makers hang out on the platform. Promoting yourself on your personal profile can be very lucrative and open new doors.

If being able to promote to just your professional contacts on Facebook sounds like a good idea, here’s how to set it up, as well as what to say.

Step 1: Create Friend List Categories

So we’re all on the same page, your Facebook personal profile has a feature called friend lists. Think of friend lists as segments; you can assign friends to one or more friend lists, and then when you want to promote something more business-oriented you can specify which lists receive which updates.

From your home page on desktop, click the arrow on the left-side menu, then click “Friend Lists”.

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The next page is pretty self-explanatory: Create the different lists you want to divide your friends and contacts into. A friend can be in more than one list. I did lists for high school, college, a former city I lived in, and – most importantly – connections who are the avatar for my business.

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Fun fact: When you click on an existing friend list, you will be shown a version of your feed that has updates from just those friends. If you’re trying to set better boundaries with Facebook, bookmarking these pages could be a helpful workaround.

My approach for articles is usually three drafts: A mega-sloppy first draft, a “surgical” second draft (Which is usually demoralizing), and then a third draft where I read through aloud to make any phrasing adjustments. I find this helps the rhythm of my articles and makes them more conversational and approachable; you might like to do the same.

Step 2: Sort Your Friends (Until Facebook Gives Up On You)

I’ll be honest: This part kinda blows, and you can’t really delegate it. Pull up a comfy chair and pour yourself a refreshing beverage; we’re going to go through your current friends and sort them into friend lists, one at a time.

Navigate to your profile, then select “Friends”.

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For each friend, click on the three dots next to their profile, then select “Edit Friend Lists” and choose the friend lists you want that friend to be sorted into.

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When I went through my friends list and began to manually sort, I made it through about 500 contacts before Facebook began to peeter out on me. You might experience the same issue. Do what you can, then update new friends as you go; updating people’s friend lists on their birthdays is an easy way to make incremental progress here.

Step 3: Promote Your Side Hustle To Your Chosen Network With 5 Types Of Posts

Now that you have a segmented friend list of people who could be potential clients for your side hustle or online business… what should you post? Here are 5 categories of posts with examples to get you started.

#1: Education posts

Education posts are content marketing 101. Content marketing not only gives you a chance to show off your smarts; it also helps your reader gain clarity both on what their problems actually are and then how to solve them. I’m a PR & marketing dude, so when I do posts like these I drill down on a trend or common belief in the industry and then offer my opinion or insight on it.

When I post, I specify the audience I want the post to go to. You can always check this post-publication by hovering over the icon of a person near your name.

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Here’s another example: Jon Mitchell is a friend of mine who is a functional medicine consultant for executives and entrepreneurs. Jon is a physician’s assistant by education and worked in addiction medicine for a few years, a field with a less-than-5% success rate. He pivoted because he wanted to be in a niche that could have more proactive health conversations and less red tape.Jon posts great little data-backed anecdotes like these that are steadily winning me over. He’s educating me on all the reasons why I should hire him without overtly selling to me.

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You know stuff; teach your knowledge to others. Education posts do that.

#2: Offer posts

Gentle reminder: The title of this article is “How to promote yourself on your personal Facebook profile.” That means you’re gonna promote yourself. People won’t know about your stuff or buy it unless you tell them, mmkay?

The beauty of this is that you can use offer posts to gauge interest on different offers as you explore different iterations of your side hustle. Thinking about trying out a live workshop, course, or coaching package? Post about it and see if you get any buzz; if people start sliding into your DMs with “Can I buy that right now?” language, you’re heading in the right direction. (Remember to actually tell them to slide into your DMs).

Here is a post that landed me two clients. One client purchased the offer shown, and one eventually purchased a totally different offer customized to meet their needs.

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The number one intention of offer posts isn’t necessarily to make sales on the spot; it’s to get conversations going that can lead to sales.

#3: Personal story posts

Sharing your personal story, origin story, or how you got to where you are today is always interesting to readers. It shows off your human side, and people often relate to and connect with the struggles, failures, and triumphs of others.

Here’s a personal story I stripped out of one of my sales pages and repurposed. This is a pretty long post, but got a great response.

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You can definitely be shorter with your posts if you want, and sharing personal stories is great storytelling practice.

  • Why did you end up starting this side hustle or business? What has it given you?
  • Why do you live where you live?
  • What’s a time you overcame something difficult, and what did it teach you?

Tell us those stories and we’ll lean in.

#4: Social proof posts

Social proof is a powerful weapon in marketing. Obviously you’ll be emphatic about your own side hustle or business – you make money from it – but when others feel the same, those endorsements create more trust with your readers.

Good examples of social proof include:

  • Testimonials and client results
  • Awards and accolades
  • Media and press

I sometimes mix social proof with silliness in the caption to keep it light. Other times, if I’ve been tagged, I’ll share a client’s post that tags me. You can get creative here, there’s really no wrong answer.

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If you have happy clients or people talking about you, those conversations can be turned into content.

#5: Relatable posts

These categories have all been very strategic, so here’s a category for all those miscellaneous odds and ends.

The advantage to creating short, relatable posts like these is that they remove you from the guru-follower pedestal that inevitably starts to appear when you do this kind of content marketing.

Relatable posts make it easier for your readers to engage with you or participate in the conversation. Ask questions, share silly little details from your life, or comment on recent news.

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Final Takeaways

Organic marketing on Facebook certainly still works, but you need to be strategic about it. More importantly, you need to get out of your own head. Creating friend lists can be an easy way to stay connected with friends and family while also building interest for your side hustle or business.

Thanks for reading. 🙏🏼

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