To begin with, social media is not about selling, but about conversations and providing value. Be knowable, likable and trustworthy. To make the most of social media for yourself and your followers, schedule time each week to work on it. Social media needs to be part of your marketing mix.
1. Pick your platforms.
It is not possible to be fully present on all platforms. Don’t get wrapped up in the frenzy of what’s trending. For instance, Snapchat is trending. But it may not be right for your business.
Where is your ideal customer?
Where do you have the time and resources to serve your ideal client?
You can totally rock ONE social platform. If your time is very limited, pick the one where you will reach your ideal customer most effectively.
If you have multiple brands and some significant time (say, 2-3 hours each week to spend on social marketing), pick no more than 3 platforms for each brand. I have multiple brands: illustrator, designer, instructor and mentor. Here is how I spread things out over my platforms:
- Illustrator: Instagram, Facebook Page — I post new work, old work, work in progress and related content.
- Designer: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn — I post new work, blog articles, events, information about working with clients.
- Mentor: Twitter, Facebook Page — I post content about freelancing, copyright, contracts, working with clients, and such.
- Instructor: YouTube — I post tutorials and short critiques.
I am still looking at Periscope, meaning that I’m not sure what I want to do with it yet. As for Snapchat, I have decided it’s not my best place to be.
2. Decide on a primary message for each platform and stay on topic.
Each platform is different, so your approach on each should be different. Instagram is a wonderful platform to show work-in-progress stills and videos. Twitter is not the best for that. If you’re a writer, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are optimal for posting original articles and curated content. Your Facebook Fan Page is not the place to discuss politics, or anything else that is off-topic, unless your fan page is about politics.
3. Share valuable content that your readers will appreciate. Where you’ve created or curated it, you want to post content that benefits your readers and followers. Who are your influencers? Follow them, re-Tweet their content, promote their work. Eventually you will start getting their attention, which is valuable to you. It’s the give
4. Incorporate live video.
Whether or not you’re comfortable with live streaming or creating videos, they are the preferred form of content on social media. Live video is most likely to build your following, especially if you are again, offering value and include a call to action (join my list, buy my ebook, sign up for my training…). Using live video saves time, and it’s authentic. You don’t edit it, you don’t write it, and that’s okay. Periscope, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook all feature live streaming options. If you commit to streaming daily for a period of time, at the same time each day, and you announce to your list and on the social platform where you stream, you’ll build a following.
5. Include a call to action.
When you post content, you can include a call to action. What do you want your followers to do? Comment? Re-tweet? Sign up on your list? Visit your web site? Buy your product or book? A rule of thumb is that for every 5 value-giving posts or tweets, share 1 call to action. Giving value first gives people a reason to take action.
6. Use apps to help manage and track your social media posts and results.
Buffer, Co-Schedule, Meet Edgar and Social Oomph are just 5 of the available content marketing schedulers. During your social media marketing time each week, write and schedule your content for several weeks ahead, or even several months ahead. I use the free version of Buffer and it’s been quite a time-saver. With a scheduler you don’t need to be always connected to social media. You can schedule things to post while you sleep or are on vacation.
7. Be human.
Even when you use social media for your business, be human, authentic and transparent. You are first of all a person that people can relate to. For example, although I’m sharing these recommendations with you, I have not mastered all of them. I am just beginning to work with live video. In future newsletters I will share my experiences and what I’ve learned about live video, which you might find funny or beneficial, or both. People like to know they are not alone in their fears, struggles, successes and situations. Seeing you work through a learning curve or stumble over your words on camera will allow them to take the same courageous steps you’re taking.
My experience is that it’s really difficult to stay consistent with any sort of marketing, let alone content marketing and social media. But every freelancer needs to always be marketing, because that is what helps keep our work pipelines full. I often find myself the victim of shiny object syndrome, and I’ll spend time looking around on Facebook when I need to be working on Facebook marketing. Or, I’m making client project work a priority during the time I’ve scheduled my marketing time. And the marketing doesn’t get done.
Ultimately, social media efforts will prove successful over the long term. Because the aim is to build relationship and not to sell, do not expect instant results. Be curious: Look at what your influencers are doing. Be experimental: Test to see what works. Be courageous: Act despite your fears. Don’t wait until everything is perfect to begin something. It never will be. Just dive in and do it.