Social media marketing can be an effective way for freelancers and solo-entrepreneurs to attract new leads and clients. When done correctly, it’s also an affordable way to increase a brand’s reach without overly expensive marketing tactics. A skilled social media user can leapfrog bigger businesses in their niche who might be more pedestrian with their social media platforms.
To see positive results, especially as a small business, it’s important to get a few things right from the start. Failing to do so means your efforts will meet with minimal success.
With positive results in mind, here are 7 rules for effective social media marketing relevant to any industry.
Decide on the Most Appropriate Platforms
As a freelancer, and without a dedicated social media team behind you, it can be a lot of hard work trying to update multiple social media profiles. Even with the best automation tools, maintaining a presence on every network can waste a lot of your precious time and energy, and without effective results.
A great way to approach social media marketing is to select a few platforms which best suit your particular business, your current content, and your natural social style.
For example, if you’re a freelance fashion stylist or small interior design firm, then visual images are an important feature of your marketing. Pinterest and Instagram – particularly popular with females – might well be the best platforms to attract new clients.
Alternatively, a freelance virtual assistant or bookkeeper might find focusing on just LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter more beneficial in gaining new leads.
Select just two or three social media platforms to focus on rather than spreading yourself too thin on every platform you can find.
Decide Who to Target
What type of people do you want as followers or fans? Just like with marketing in general, if you try to attract anyone and everyone, in the end you attract no one. It’s important to cultivate a following that are genuinely interested in what you do, what you provide, and the information you share.
It’s tempting to build a huge following of random people, especially when you see others in your niche with huge follower numbers. But this is flawed logic. For example, anyone can gain thousands of Twitter followers, simply by adding people who will follow them back. However, 50,000 untargeted and reciprocal followers will never be as effective as just 100 regional followers who love reading every update you make.
Forget follower numbers. Focus on attracting social media users who will make great clients or customers.
Build Targeted Relationships
Part of effective social media usage is connecting with fellow professionals. As a freelancer or solo-entrepreneur, working relationships with other business owners can be an important part of building a business empire, gaining referrals, and even forming new lucrative partnerships.
Like with building a following, it’s important to interact with the right kind of people and not just anyone or everyone. Look for respected influencers in your industry whose work you can share and who might be open to a conversation.
Seek out professionals in different fields but who could potentially provide services that complement your own. For example, a web designer might look to create friendly working relationships with talented freelancer copywriters, and vice-versa.
Decide What Content to Share
When you know who your ideal clients are, finding things to share on social media becomes a lot easier. In many cases, what you publish on your blog or news feed will make great social media updates. You can also share thoughts and insights related to your business as well as the needs and problems your clients might be facing.
When sharing information written by other people, it’s very important to ensure the content is suitable for your audience and has been written by an expert. Check the author of the content you want to share and see whether they have genuine experience of what they are writing about, and are not just rehashing what other people have said elsewhere.
Your reputation depends on sharing quality content not just from your own blog and experiences, but also those from other people. Developing a social media following is about building trust and sharing reliable and relevant information.
Create Eye-Catching Visual Branding
People are very good at remembering visual information. That’s why it’s important on social media to add images to updates. Gone are the days when an update could be merely a few words and a link. Nowadays, the updates that get shared and clicked the most, usually have an attractive and eye-catching accompanying graphic.
Branded graphics – including a good business logo – help people quickly recognize your business and associate what you share with the skills you provide. Thankfully, you don’t even need specialist design software or talent. Websites like Canvas allow a person to create nice and effective graphics within minutes.
When you share your blog posts and business updates, people will recognize the graphic style you use and pick you out of the often extremely busy crowd of other peoples’ updates. That’s the power of good visual branding.
How well is your social media marketing going? Are you gaining new leads? Or are your updates meeting with silence? Whichever platforms you use, it’s important to measure the results you achieve on each one. This allows you to discover whether the time and effort you put in are being rewarded with new contacts and more clients.
Many social media platforms have their own analytics, including Twitter, where you can see clicks and views from a dashboard. There are also third-party applications and tools which can provide similar data. You can also simply judge how well certain updates do simply by viewing the number of shares, likes, clicks, and comments they receive.
It’s good to test different types of social media posts. When one seems to gain more attention than others, then you can replicate it and share similar updates.
Practice Patience and Persistence
It’s important to be patient when using social media. It takes time to grow a following and at times, especially early on, it can seem pointless when no one visits your website. You might be tempted to give up and try another platform. However, unless you already have a large presence on those other platforms, you’re likely to face the same issues.
Growing a targeted and interactive social media following can take months of daily updates before any significant results are seen. If you’re desperately looking for clients immediately, then social media might not be the best short-term option. As a long-term solution however, social media can dramatically increase the number of leads you receive.
Patient and persistence are key.
These 7 rules for effective social media marketing will help you develop a strong foundation from which to grow a popular, respected, and highly converting social media presence.