My niche (healthcare tech) has one of its biggest conferences coming in up just a couple of weeks. It’s massive…50,000 visitors…over a thousand vendors…Of course everybody’s running around like chickens.
Marketing at the conference is a huge deal, but it’s also very difficult, because no one goes to conferences to be sold to. I got an invitation to a webinar that promised to address this issue and took some time to listen in today. I honestly feel like I walked away with a lot. One thing really stuck out to me though, and that was how much I’d heard before.
I mean that stuff you hear about marketing that seems to get repeated 100 times over, but still needs to be said that 101st time. I don’t think that’s because people aren’t listening or don’t understand. I think it’s because, in the day-to-day grind, it’s easy to slip back into bad habits. One of the topics that came up was how to use social effectively, and I thought of how we as freelancers really miss out on some of the potential here. That’s why I put together this post on some basic guidelines you should be using in your social media.
A lot of people disagree with these…and when I say “disagree”, I don’t mean they get into arguments on Facebook about them…I mean they’ll smile and nod happily and then go back to doing the exact wrong thing on their social accounts. I don’t want you to be one of those people, so I’ve included a tip on something you can do right now to get out of your social media ruts.
What You’re Probably Doing Now: Focusing on social when you feel like it or when you’re reminded to do it. If I weren’t using some of the tactics below, I’d probably show up once every two weeks on Twitter to re-post some old blog titles and be on my way…all the while wondering why I was getting no engagement.
Why You’re Probably Doing It: Life gets busy and the return on social can be slow. If we’re being honest, getting retweets and shares can feel good, but likes aren’t cash, so you don’t have a lot of short-term incentive to get engaged.
What Could Work Better For You Instead: Set a schedule. I listed this first because without a schedule, engaging on social can feel simultaneously overwhelming and pointless. If you set aside 10-15 minutes every morning to knock out social tasks, your entire social experience can change.
What You Can Do To Get Started Today: Make it real on your calendar. Hop on over to whatever calendar system you use (I like Google calendar, but your phone can work just fine) and set a short period of time 3-5 times a week to spend just on social.
What You’re Probably Doing Now: Only talking about yourself.
Why You’re Probably Doing It: Because it makes sense at first…people need to know about the freelance services you offer.
What Could Work Better For You Instead: OK…so first off…nobody cares what you do. Seriously. Nobody cares that you’re a writer or an accountant or a designer. What they do care about, is how your writing, accounting, and design (or whatever it is you do) can solve their business problems. This is why your goal on your social accounts isn’t to talk a lot about what you do, but instead to position yourself as a helpful resource. This is where the 80/20 rule comes in: 80% of your content should be about topics that don’t pertain to what you do, the other 20% can be about you, your products and services.
What You Can Do To Get Started Today: This is one I’m not the best at, because when I get lazy, I just start streaming info about my work to maintain a presence…every time though, I notice my follows and engagement start to slow down. This is because I really haven’t taken the time to set up my news alerts in a way that gets me the 80% of non-me-generated content that I need. If you do alerts right, you get great content dropped in your inbox on a regular basis.
What You’re Probably Doing Now: Never really checking out who follows you.
Why You’re Probably Doing It: It takes time and some manual work.
What Could Work Better For You Instead: Have a listening plan. This is one of the items you might want to use one of those 10-15 minutes social blocks for…just going through your mentions and follows and see who’s doing what and who might be presenting problems that you could help with.
What You Can Do To Get Started Today: Get organized. I do this almost exclusively on Twitter, and that’s because it’s the best place to do it. Lists can be ridiculously useful when it comes to organizing thought leaders in your niche, competitors, funny people, even people who might be interested in different services you offer. Best part about it on Twitter is that you can use lists to organized people regardless of your follow relationship.
What You’re Probably Doing Now: Broadcasting only.
Why You’re Probably Doing It: Again…it’s easy.
What Could Work Better For You Instead: Talk to individuals…this is another one for the schedule. You know how much you like it when people reply to your tweets and comment on your LinkedIn posts? Well pass some of that on. You’d be amazed at the kind of conversations you can get into online when you start them yourself. Look for interesting posts, complaints, announcements, things they’re excited about. A small “congrats!” or favorite can go a long way…and don’t forget to check your niche hashtags.
What You Can Do To Get Started Today: Combine the power of schedules and lists…use one of those blocks of social time to check your lists and talk to people who are talking about what interests you.
What You’re Probably Doing Now: Doing everything by hand.
Why You’re Probably Doing It: You’re engaging with your freelance social the same way you do your personal social accounts.
What Could Work Better For You Instead: Automate as much as possible. News alerts, services like Buffer, Sprout, and Hootsuite, and sites like Hashtracking can turn tasks that suck up time or require daily check in into simple tasks that don’t burden your mind at all.
What You Can Do To Get Started Today: Sign up for one of the scheduler services at the very least. They tend to run around $10 for basic packages (ones like Spout go WAY higher), but I can’t explain to you how much time you’ll save, and how it will boost your freelance brand.
So there you go. Let me know what you think, and if you have any questions, just let me know in the comments. Talk to you soon!