Top Social Media Marketing Tips for Freelancers
Social media is changing the way we communicate, the way we shop, do business and even the way we find love. It’s believed to be causing the biggest cultural shift since the Industrial Revolution and the effects can be seen everywhere we look.
Over 18 million households in the UK have access to the internet, eighty-three per cent of which shop online. The internet is now the first place we now look when we want to find out about products, services or all sorts of information.
We’ll look at reviews, written by other shoppers on the web. We’ll chat about them in forums and online communities. We’ll tweet about things on Twitter. We might even write a blog post or upload our own video on YouTube or Vimeo, telling others about the good, bad and ugly products or services we’ve found.
It’s a huge online community and it’s all available at our fingertips.
So if you haven’t yet grasped just how crucial social media is, then you really need to start bringing it into your business plan. You need to be out there, talking to your customers and managing your online reputation.
Social media marketing will not only put you directly in touch with existing and new clients, it will make you more personable, trustworthy and approachable. It will also improve links to your website, boost your SEO, help you to raise your own profile and establish new networks while attracting more business.
Take for instance, Boomerang PR. We’ve fully embraced social media marketing by launching our own magazine, Creative Boom. It was founded in July 2009 after we spoke to other freelancers and businesses on Twitter.
The site – which is essentially a blog - gets 95 per cent of its news from Twitter and Facebook alone. Since its launch, the site has grown significantly and now gets over 1,000 hits per day. Over 2,200 people follow us on Twitter and we’ve got more than 200 fans on Facebook.
What’s more, we’ve grown so much we’re now offering advertising on Creative Boom, three of which have transformed into clients, including THECUBE, a workspace and network for creative businesses in London and North America’s largest illustration agency, Anna Goodson Management.
In just four months, we’ve expanded our services worldwide, become a credible market leader in our own field, attracted new business from as far away as Canada and boosted our website’s position in the organic search engine listings.
Social media is undoubtedly a powerful marketing tool. To get you started, here are our top tips:
Twitter is a hugely effective free marketing tool for your business. It’s a micro-blogging site and somewhere that allows you to talk directly with your customers quickly and easily. You basically follow people and people follow you. You can tweet about yourself while keeping updated on the rest of the world.
Sign up and create an account, reserving your business name and start ‘tweeting’. You can tweet about your company news, point people back to your website and any useful blogs you might have, or even respond to tweets about your sector.
A useful ‘search’ function on Twitter will help you to find relevant people to follow or even target. For instance, at Boomerang PR, I follow PR Week but also lots of design and marketing agencies around Staffordshire and Cheshire. I’ve found lots of new business by tweeting about my services and sharing my expertise. I’ve also searched for things like ‘PR services’ and ‘web developer required’ to target others and introduce myself.
To make the most out of your Twitter account you can use more advanced tools like Tweetie, Hootsuite or TweetDeck. These will make using Twitter a whole lot easier and come with lots of useful features. Take for instance, Hootsuite – you can schedule Tweets to be posted onto your profile while you’re away from your desk.
Twitter has also recently introduced ‘Lists’ whereby you can organise all the people you are following, placing them into categories.
If Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s fourth largest.
As a business, you can start a Group or Fanpage where people can follow you, similar to Twitter, and become fans of your business.
Like Twitter, this is a fantastic free marketing tool to help build your online presence and get more people talking about you and your products or services.
Again, you can point people back to your website, your blog posts or even seek customer feedback. For example, on Creative Boom’s Fanpage, I often talk directly to my fans, asking their opinion on how I can continue to improve the website. As a result, I recently launched Creative Boom Hubs – regional versions of the main website to help create creative communities across the UK.
Facebook also has lots of Groups which you can target. We helped to drive thousands of people to Creative Boom by simply posting about our magazine on different group pages.
What’s more, Facebook has wonderful advertising opportunities where you can pick out keywords and target certain demographics to help you reach the right customers.
3) Linked In
Linked In is a business version of Facebook that is hugely popular and has over 50 million users worldwide.
It has some very useful functions like ‘Recommendations’ where you can encourage clients or colleagues to add a testimonial to your Linked In profile.
It’s also another social media network that has Groups. For Boomerang PR, I follow a Staffordshire Business Group and regularly talk online through the forums. It’s also a great way of keeping informed of any relevant business networking events going on in your local area.
4) Write your own Blog
Writing a blog gives you credibility, helps you to showcase your expertise and target potential new customers online.
What’s more, by integrating a blog into your current website, you’ll be providing fresh and relevant copy. And Google loves regularly updated copy, which will really help boost your SEO.
If you’re stuck for things to write then consider the following: you could comment on something in the news; provide tips and advice; share your expertise; review a product or service relevant to your industry or even just talk about your recent client wins.
Don’t forget to give your blog posts titles with SEO in mind. Think of what people would search for in the search engines. For instance, this feature would be ‘Top tips for social media marketing’. It’s another great way of being found through the search engine results pages.
5) Contribute to online conversation
Check out other people’s blogs that are within your sector and add intelligent comments/debate to their posts. It will give you further credibility and put you in touch with hundreds of potential new customers.
More importantly, it will build links back to your own website. Why is link building so important? It’s relevant for SEO and helps to drive more traffic to your website. The more traffic you have, the more potential customers you’re reaching. The more strong links you have, the more your Google ranking will improve.
Remember, social media goes hand-in-hand with SEO.
6) Use Multimedia
Have you considered using multimedia to boost your online presence? Websites like Flickr, Vimeo and YouTube are a great way to add more personality to your business.
If you’re a designer and you want to showcase your work, you can easily produce a video gallery of your work and post it onto YouTube. If you’re a photographer you can upload your work onto Flickr, a photo sharing site that also has groups, forums and online communities.
Or how about adding videos to your own website? You could demonstrate a new product? Or just talk to your customers direct by introducing ‘vlogs’ or video blogs. Creative Boom has a feature called Boom TV where me and my contributors talk about different themes, sharing our top tips and advice on a variety of subjects.
7) Connect all your social media
Once you’ve got your own Twitter and Facebook accounts up and running and you’ve started a blog or introduced YouTube videos, why not connect them all up?
You can use things like Twitterfeed to tap into your blog’s RSS feed and automatically post things onto Twitter and Facebook.
Just think of Twitter and Facebook as powerful tools that will drive traffic to your website.
Don’t forget to add some social media icons to your website so that people can easily follow you on Twitter or become your fan on Facebook.
Editorial image courtesy of New Reality Photography