Social media can be great weapon for freelancers in their relentless quest to find new clients, but knowing how to make the most of it is half the battle, writes James Roberts of Brookson, an accountancy firm serving the self-employed.
Follow these few golden rules if you want your freelance business to be successful, both in the financial and social media stakes.
Don’t just chase followers
Social media is not a simple game of gathering as many followers as possible. It’s about the conversation: you need to concentrate on making valuable connections that will benefit you in the long term. That means that you should never just send out random tweets advertising that you’re available. Instead, you need to build your networks by sparking conversations with the people you connect to. Respond to their comments with questions and vice versa, offer information they don’t already have – as well as striking up an interaction with the person you address, you’re demonstrating your knowledge to everyone else who can see it.
Share and share alike
It’s important to share interesting and relevant content from a range of sources. Think about the kind of content that will interest potential clients – you need to prove you’re both interested and knowledgeable in your field so that businesses believe you’re a safe pair of hands to handle their assignments. On top of that, share links that have been posted by other individuals in your industry, potential and past clients and professional organisations – if you add comments and questions to show that you’re engaging with their ideas, it acts as a nod to the previous poster and can help you to build vital relationships.
You constitute your own brand, and you need to make sure that as much information as possible is available through the simplest means. Online, that means the smallest possible number of clicks, so you need to make sure all your social media profiles are clearly linked to your website, or whatever site contains the key information about you. You can connect different social media, too – services like TweetDeck can link to posts on different profiles if they’re too long to fit on Twitter, for example.
Draw people in
Having a healthy following may not be the be all and end all, but it can help to make you look better respected. The good news is that if you’re getting everything else right, you’ll find that the followers come naturally – if people see you posting interesting content that shows how well acquainted you are with your field, they’ll want to see what you do next. If you’re having good conversations, followers will want to join in and you’ll build up a strong, valuable corpus of connections.
Keep followers updated
It’s important that your followers get acquainted with your professional skills, so update them regularly on the projects you’ve been working on. Even if it’s just the odd statement about how much you’re enjoying whatever you’ve done that day, it’s important that people know you’re interested in and enjoy your work. To go into more detail and build up a fuller profile of yourself, it might be worth investing time in a blog you can promote through your various profiles. If that’s too time-consuming, consider LinkedIn or Freelance Alliance.
It’s all about building up a picture of yourself as a person who would be enjoyable to work with as well as effective. That’s why you interact with people: relationships are key. So although you are using social media accounts for work purposes, it’s fine to post occasionally about your personal life, whether it’s pets, children or your holidays.
Play the long game
Your social media strategy will take time to bear fruit – it’s a long-term plan that won’t magically work overnight. It has to be a natural product of the dialogue you build between other industry figures, clients and peers. If it seems that the results aren’t quite what you’d hoped, decide for yourself over the space of a couple of months. From there, if you’re really not seeing any increases in followers or responses, it might be worth looking at your strategy again.
Editor’s Note: Further Reading –