Facebook? Twitter? Google+? LinkedIn? The list of social media platforms grows and it can be intimidating for a freelancer to figure out where to even begin to be effective in social media marketing. Diving in blind can mean a lot of wasted time and energy, whereas a strategy can help focus your efforts and generate results. The first steps in your social media marketing strategy has little to do with social media and more to do with creating a clear foundation for your online presence. The clearer you are on what you’re doing and where you’re going with social media, the clearer you can determine if you’re on the right path and adjust your efforts toward the right direction.
Being so affordable, accessible, and rewarding, social media can be an especially effective marketing strategy for freelancers. On the other hand, it’s tempting to spend hours on end building your network and presence on the World Wide Web, and responding to every Like, tweet, and comment. Participating in social media can easily take over your freelance work schedule if you don’t have a plan in place to keep you on track and encourage productivity.
There are three preliminary steps to a social media plan:
- Identify your brand. You’re just a freelancer, you say? Any business or individual with an online presence, whether or not they manage it, has a brand. If you don’t establish your brand, others may do it for you based on your patterns of actions on the Internet.Consider your brand your online persona, story, legacy, and reputation founded upon your own very real identity. Are you energetic and cheery, thoughtful and inspirational, factual and serious? This is how you would express yourself online: in your interactions with others on social media, content you post, the wording you use on your website, how you sell yourself, and the list goes on. Like companies, another part of your personal brand is a clear message of how you provide value. A catchy motto or description is what you’ll use to fill your biographies across the different social media platforms. Finally, as a freelancer, your profile picture will often be a professional headshot of you.
- Establish a home base online. With so many social media platforms, there should be a central location where people can go to find more about who you are and what you do: a website and/or a blog. Your website is also part of your branding strategy not only in how you express yourself through your website content, but also by controlling what people will learn about you when they search for your name on Google as your website should show up within the first few results if updated regularly. Knowing that all of your various social media contacts will be funneled to your website, make sure you include at the very least:
- A thorough “About Me” page,
- A “Hire Me” page with links to samples of your work,
- A “Contact Me” page, and
- Links to your social media profiles.
- Set a schedule. Limit the time you’ll dedicate to social media, so you don’t get carried away by how much time you could spend networking and marketing. You should be regularly available in chunks of time throughout the day because responsiveness is key to freelancing, but not so available that you’re frequently distracted from your work.Results from the 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report showed that a minimum of 6 hours on social media is needed for lead generation and increased traffic. Six hours is also the minimum number of hours the majority of online marketers with at least a few months of experience spend on social media per week. In fact, almost 50% of marketers with over 3 years of social media marketing experience dedicate 16 hours or more to social media! Consider 6 to 20 hours per week a good range to begin your social media marketing plan; stay flexible and adjust as needed.
How can you be more effective in your social media marketing as a freelancer?
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Meta Description: Diving into social media without a plan can mean a lot of wasted time. Start with these preliminary steps to put your social media marketing plan on the right track.