What's on the iPod: The Last Time by Taylor Swift
Well, 2013 is starting slow, but I see looming a ton of potential projects that, if they all are assigned, could have me scrambling for extra hours in the day. Right now, I'm working on one article and a few small PR projects, which is a good way to ease back into the working world after the holiday hiatus.
New month, new theme. This month we'll be looking at online marketing and networking. If you're overlooking this type of marketing, you're missing out big time. Clients -- even the less tech-savvy of them -- want instant information on who they work with. Not only that, there's a big advantage to being in front of a potential client when she decides it's time to hire a freelancer. You get that by being connected and engaged. (For this post, I'm going to refrain from talking about email marketing, which deserves its own post.)
Before you launch an all-out blitz of social media, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, online marketing via social media isn't about how many times a day you can advertise your name or your business. In fact, that's the fastest way to lose the largest number of potential clients. What works in the real-time media world doesn't translate well online. Sure, you can advertise, but the goal is different.
The goal is to engage the client and build a relationship long before they hire you.
Second, it's also important whom it is you're reaching. I could tweet all day about how great my writing services are, but if my followers are other writers or single dads/moms, what do they care? One group will get sick of hearing how special I think I am (and that will kill my reputation as a colleague) and the other will ignore me.
So let's build an online marketing kit.
Know what social media you'll use. You don't have to hit all social media. There's just too much of it to do that effectively. Instead, concentrate on two or three social media sites and learn what works best in each medium.
Research the message. It's okay to put yourself out there as you are, but why not frame your tweets, Google+ posts, or Facebook pages to conform a bit to what's already getting noticed? That's not to say you can't be creative and design your own way of attracting clients. Just do it smartly. For example, if links to other sites in Twitter get more traffic than those without, try framing your message with a link to your website. Or if the opposite is true, try amending your message so that you're not driving away potential business.
Listen to your client base. They're telling you every day what they want, what they don't want, what they love, what they hate, etc. Those messages on social media are gold. Mine it for the best way to impress those clients and deliver messages to them that they'd respond to.
Choose carefully your clients. At first, you want to follow everyone in your chosen industry or anyone who needs a ghostwriter, content writer, etc. Don't. Look at the messages they've put out --are they engaging or simply reporting how special they are? Are they interacting? Are they truly potential clients? I can't tell you how many Google+ or Twitter users I see who claim to be "insurance" people when in fact they're content mills, scams, keyword vampires (my term, I hope), or someone looking to drive traffic or plant a virus. Make sure you're connecting with a person, and look for signs that the person is building or growing a business or has a legitimate need for your services.
Plan your posts. While I think most of your tweets should be conversations and not sales pitches (likewise any other social media platform), those times when you do want to put out a sales message should be carefully planned and implemented. For instance, I'd say 2 out of every 20 messages on Twitter should be advertisements. The rest should be conversation starters. What better way to engage new/existing clients than to create discussions via your posts? It starts with knowing your potential client, and then creating weekly topics that get them interacting with you. That serves you two ways -- it gets you name recognition, and it shows you're intimately involved and interested in their industry.
Follow up. Here's where you can capture more business. Know how and when you'll follow up with any potential leads. If you've been talking with them via a LinkedIn group, go ahead and send them LinkedIn mail as a continuation of any discussion you were directly engaged in together. If you were discussing a business proposition, maybe arrange a phone call or ask to send a work proposal. Use your instincts. If the lead is lukewarm, wait. If you feel genuine interest from the potential client, that's your cue to reach out more personally.
There are plenty of ways to reach out to new clients and build your reputation as not just a savvy social media user, but also a writing professional who goes a little further in learning a client's business needs before getting the job. Whatever approach you take, make sure you plan it to coincide with your clients' potential needs.
What goes into your online marketing kit?