I’m sitting here watching Beyonce’s Formation video bloom in all its glorious Southern American Blackness on Twitter…well…that and the predictions of the swarm of cultural dilettantes who will be writing painfully ignorant think pieces and commentary over the coming days and weeks. My greatest hope right now is that writers who understand the nuance and culture the video and song address will have a larger voice in its discussion.
This Folks, is a textbook example of why social media matters to freelancers. I’ll get into why in just a bit, but first, let’s talk about the role social media (and by extension social networks) play in your freelance career.
What Social Media Isn’t
When it comes to using social I see many of my clients making a particular mistake…same goes for quite a few freelancers and even myself when I get lazy.
Social media and networking platforms — I don’t care if we’re talking Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter — are not free ad spaces. They are free, and they are the spaces where you can see the results that ads are supposed to get you, but the last thing you want to do is plaster your streams with self-centered announcements. I’m talking about the ones that sound like…
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These have their place, but if they’re the bulk of what you put out into the online world you’re doing social wrong. Social isn’t just a space for talking about yourself…it’s so, so much more.
What Your Social Media Accounts Should Be
Formation is trending while I write this, but this applies to any news story, conference, press release, and yes, music video. You won’t be able to take advantage of any trends though, until you understand a few points about what social is.
Social is a place to listen.
…and I mean to your current clients, their competitors, your industry thought leaders (Beyonce in this case), and the general public. All of these voices should inform your freelance work — that includes everything from your website to your marketing, even your income expectations.
Your freelance career will be much easier if you keep your ear to the social ground (in the right ways.)
Social is a place to connect.
This is especially true if you dislike in-person networking events as much as I do (I…loathe…them. Introvert.)
Social media and social networks hold a wealth of opportunities for you to connect with potential partners, other freelancers in your niche, and prospective clients. It can even serve as a feed into or warm-up for more traditional networking practices like conferences and mixers and all those other things extraverted-folk like to do (love y’all:)
Social is a place to be available for connection.
Even if your website is brimming with all the right keywords, you can still miss out on some great opportunities for connection if you ignore social.
Having presences on a few networks (that align with your freelance goals) opens you up to clients and connections who might not run across your website. If you choose the right ones and build a strong presence, your social profiles can become spaces where people find you and your work.
Social is a place to talk.
As a freelancer, you probably don’t have access to the coworkers traditionally employed people do. Still, sometimes you need to flesh out thoughts and get feedback on ideas like anybody else, and this is where social platforms can be amazingly useful.
Some platforms are better for this than others, but they all, in some way, offer you a way to form, develop, and refine ideas you have around products, services, content, marketing…all aspects of your freelance career.
The Beyonce Factor
So back to Beyonce. The Formation video is such a beautiful example of the importance of social to freelancers because it touches on multiple potential uses — each of which you’ll want to become comfortable with.
So…let’s say you write on media/entertainment — the launch of a video like this should set some bells off.
To really understand why, and how big an impact it’s having, you’d have to be plugged in to Twitter. To understand how mainstream publications were failing at it…you’d have to be plugged into Twitter (though I’m guessing they failed on a couple of other accounts too.)
The energy, the failure, the conversations and reactions can all inform pitches, who you’re pitching to, even what you might decide to create for your freelance blog to demonstrate your connection to your niche.
That’s a pretty narrow example, but if you start paying attention to your own freelance niche, you’ll begin to see similar opportunities crop up. That can sound overwhelming, but remember that being active in social doesn’t take a ton of time or effort…with smart use of tools and schedules (something we’ll cover later on) you can turn your social profiles into freelance career building assets you won’t want to live without.
So I’m sure by now you’re probably running a list of platforms through your, wondering which will work best to get you clients and keep you connected to your freelance niche. Remember…each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses so you’ll have to do some observation and testing, but I’ll tell you right now that there’s one that every freelancer should have a profile on. Learn what that is, and how to start strong here.