Nearly 70 percent of adults in the U.S. report using at least one social media platform. That’s around 226 million people.
It’s no wonder it can be challenging to be heard. However, if you approach social media with a specific goal (or multiple goals), and then create a strategy to progress toward that goal, you’re much more likely to get what you want. It is definitely possible to demonstrate that you’re not just another fish in the sea.
But how? Social media trends shift faster than the tides and yet, some strategies remain effective over time thanks to the basic premise of social media itself. When it comes to using social media to promote your personal brand and your freelance business, the steps can be relatively straightforward. I should know. Although I’m primarily a writer, I’ve also provided social media management services to clients for years. My experience helping clients grow their followers, boost engagement, and gain crucial industry recognition led me to identify these best practices for a cross-platform strategy. Anyone can follow my advice below to get started on social media:
- Choose the appropriate social media platforms for your niche, personality, and goals. Writers, editors, and designers tend to get the best results using Twitter and LinkedIn. Photographers, visual artists, and other creatives should use Instagram as well. Facebook has its own pros and cons. If you’re targeting consumers in a particular age group, dive into social media use research (Pew Research Center does a good job of this) to find out which platforms are the most valuable for your needs.
- Identify your target audience. If you’re looking for new customers or clients, you already know the answer because it’s part of your business model. If you’re struggling here, you may need to step back and ask yourself, “What do I want to get from my social media presence?” If the answer is more jobs, consider the types of people and companies who might hire you. If you want to reach out to peers in your industry, think about common points you’d like to connect over.
- Develop a posting schedule and stick to it. It’s easy to setup a default posting schedule in Buffer, which I use, as well as other social media management tools. Once you have a regular schedule set in place, adding posts becomes much less daunting, and it’s easy to load up weeks worth of posts in one sitting, if that fits with the rest of your strategy.
- Be at least mostly yourself. While few people could get away with a completely unfiltered online presence, make it a point to let your true voice shine. One of my clients recently wrote a book, and the top compliment she’s received is that readers feel like they are hearing advice from a friend. If people feel like they know you, at least a little bit, they are more likely to respect you and trust what you have to say.
- Engage with accounts that are in your target audience. Set aside a little bit of time each week to comment on or reply to posts made by anyone who fits within the target audience you already identified. This might be specific people you wish to connect with, potential clients, brands you’d like to work with, or organizations that work in your field. Whatever you do, do it mindfully. Your interaction should contribute value to their social media efforts.
That’s it. Wild anecdotes not withstanding, very little on social media happens overnight, especially when it comes to sustainable business income. With dedication and consistency, though, your goals should come into sight over time.