Do you know how to make social media work for your business? I mean, really work?
You know by now that social media is one of the ways to bring people to your website or to promote your business, or to connect with your ‘tribe’.
But are you really sure that you’re using social media as well as you could?
Maybe you’ve tried out a few channels but they’re not working – or at least they’re not working as well as you’d hoped. What now?
Well, as with everything else related to your freelance business, it’s best to have a plan.
Start with a social media strategy
Have you already prepared a social media strategy? Here are a few tips about what to include, along with a couple of templates that will really help you to get the most out of your efforts. (We like results, right?)
Start with Objectives
What exactly do you want to achieve with social media? Maybe you want to win business (check out my post about landing a $22k client on Twitter for some inspiration)
Do you want to drive traffic to your blog or website?
Do you want to reach out to potential clients and show that you’re an authority in your field?
Do you want to sell products direct via social media or advertise?
Consider all of the aspects that you want to achieve with social media – from the ambitious to the downright mundane and every day.
Next up think about how your social media objectives fit in with your overall marketing objectives.
Social media ISN’T your marketing strategy, but used well, it can be a useful promotional tool for your business – so you should start to see how your social media activity fits with your overall marketing and promotions.
And make sure those objectives are SMART.
Carry Out an Audit
If you’re already using social media for your business, now is the time to have an audit to find out what you’re doing, where and how well (or not!).
What social media channels do you already use?
Do you know what it is that you want to achieve from each? If not, now is the time to start thinking about it.
You’ve listed out your overall objectives – use these to figure out what you want from each channel.
What is already working for you?
List out information like number of followers, likes and so on but also take a proper look at the analytics behind each.
It’s all very well having 3,000 followers on Twitter but if they’re all tweeting spammy messages, then it’s not really working for you.
So, as well as figuring out the numbers, you should be finding out whether the social media channels that you are using are driving traffic to your website. Are they generating customer enquiries and new business?
Don’t get obsessed by numbers. Large numbers do not indicate success. Engagement indicates success.
Quality over quantity on social media. It's not about how many followers you have! Click To Tweet
So, for example, if people are regularly repinning and commenting on your pins – and if you can see that they drive traffic to your website or that you are starting to sell direct from Pinterest as a result, then that would indicate that it’s working for you.
Try to be objective.
Just because you love Twitter, if it’s not where your customers are – or if it’s not working for some other reason, then accept that it’s not working.
If it’s fixable – like you’re posting at the wrong times or your being too self promotional – then fix it.
But if it’s a case of your customers or clients not using it, then you’re wasting your time and you need to move on.Mistakes are the portals of discovery: James Joyce Click To Tweet
Which channels do you regularly update and which do you tend to ignore? Start to have a think about why that is. Perhaps it’s down to personal rather than business reasons.
I don’t have a particular affinity for LinkedIn – which is crazy, as one of the main aspects of my business is freelance writing and there are lots of jobs in this field advertising there.
Oh yes, and I’m a consultant too, and LinkedIn is a fabulous place to find work, partners and share information with peers.
So I have to motivate myself to get on there – and I certainly don’t love it – but I am becoming more adept at using it. I’m still at the ‘forcing myself’ stage but I’m looking forward to it becoming the ‘second nature’ stage soon!
This is a classic example of personal reasons dictating my lack of use rather than business reasons. So be objective about what you’re using and why – and make decisions according to what’s best for your business.
Create & Improve
Now that you’ve decided what your objectives are, you will have a much better idea of where you should be.
For example, if you decided that you want to run a video series or a series of podcasts, then maybe you’ve decided to focus on YouTube or iTunes. Or your business model might lend itself well to Pinterest or Instagram.
(Not sure? Here are a few tips from Social Media Examiner to determine whether or not Pinterest is a good platform for your business).
No matter where you’ve decided to focus, now is the time to start to either create or improve upon existing social media profiles.
What to Consider
Make sure all of your profile information is all filled out. Pinterest profiles with the pin are a big no no.
Make sure your profile images are ‘on brand’ and that you are consistent across all the channels that you are using.
… look familiar?
If you need more inspiration, check out Simply Zesty’s 50 best brand Twitter profiles.
Put yourself in your users shoes. If you’re focusing on 2 or 3 different channels (and I’d recommend when you’re starting out just to stick to a maximum of 3) then ask yourself:
Is it obvious that this is the same brand across all 3 channels?
Are you instantly recognizable to my potential customers and clients?
There are people that I follow on Pinterest and Twitter – and I always know that it’s their images or tweets thanks to their branding which is consistent. Same font, certain image style…
Ask yourself whether or not all of your messages ‘on brand’ while still being consistent with what works on each different social media channel?
So, for example, are you posting LinkedIn updates that are full of Twitter handles and hashtags? If you are, then you need to consider making your LinkedIn posts more in line with what you’d expect to see on that platform, while still echoing the main messages of your brand.
Develop a Content Strategy
So, you’ve chosen your ideal platforms, you have some beautiful looking profiles – yes, you are looking very swanky – AND you know what you want to get from each of them.
You’re ready to go!
Well, not quite. First of all, you need to figure out what you’re going to say on each of them.
Looking at your marketing strategy, do you have any particular products or projects that you want to promote at specific times of the year? Or are there key themes that you want to cover at specific times?
Link your content – be that images, videos, posts, tweets or status updates – to these themes or specific promotions and start to consider what content you will be producing. And when.
I mainly focus on my blog – and then Twitter and Pinterest from there.
Consider the different types of content that you will be creation e.g. videos for YouTube or on Facebook; photos; blog posts; links to authority pieces by other writers and bloggers etc.
Determine which type of content you will be posting on each platform.
Figure out the timing and regularity of your content.
If you’re running a business and you want to have a blog on your website, then you should blog around once a week. Unless of course, your blog IS your business, in which case you should be posting more frequently.
How often are you going to promote your content – and where are you going to promote your content?
Depending on how much time you are going to spend on this, you might want to create editorial and social media calendars for all of this.
I use Trello to plan out all of this – otherwise, I’ll be honest, it ends up on pieces of paper which go missing!
I have blog posts planned out for key times of the year – such as Christmas or tax year end – as well as specific promotions (such as this post, which is part 8 of my Twitter #15DaystoFreelance series).
It doesn’t have to be massively complicated. You can literally write out a month’s worth of blog post titles – and that can be your editorial calendar.
However, if you’re the sort of person who likes to have all of this written down, check out this free blog planner and these free social media planning templates.
What Are You Measuring?
Now that you are ahead of the game and have all of your platforms, profiles and content sorted out, you need to figure out what success will look like for you – and start to measure it.
HINT: your SMART objectives will help you to figure out what success will look like – now you just need to know how to measure it.
Use analytics to determine how successful each platform has been.
I don’t profess to being a social media expert – I have learned by trial and error as well as a few YouTube videos and Googling when I get stuck!
Make sure your website has Google Analytics installed – and that you know what you’re looking to measure (check out this great post which literally changed my life by making Google Analytics SOOO much easier to understand).
Pinterest has it’s own analytics too – and if you sign up to schedulers like Hootsuite or Tailwind they have inbuilt analytics that help you to discover which of your content is shared, what your popular posts are, where your customers/potential customers are – and so on.
(I will be doing an entire post on automating to organize your social media so look out for that too).
So that’s it. How to make social media work for your freelance business. It sounds daunting but it really doesn’t have to be and, by starting with just a couple of different social media platforms, and doing the initial research on the best ones for you upfront, you will make life MUCH easier in the long run.
Please share this with anyone starting or running their own freelance business. And if you have any tips or questions about creating a social media strategy then please leave them in the comments.
And please follow me on social media too – see the buttons on the right under the About info. Click on them and follow me…