Finding clients, in any industry, has always been one of the biggest challenges to being successful. It can be especially intimidating, however, in the world of social media. While the competition can be fierce, savvy freelancers can set themselves apart by understanding this new era of marketing and demonstrating a mastery of all of its moving parts.
You will get discouraged, you will question your sanity, but, most importantly, you have to keep going. Demonstrating the confidence you need to attract clients will not be easy at first, but, fortunately, there are some practical ways in which you can give yourself that edge.
Intrigued? Let’s take a step-by-step approach to gaining new clients by exploring the reasons why social listening is so important, which groups you should join, the kinds of investments that pay off, targeted networking, and how to be engaging and relevant. Sound good? Let’s begin!
Keep Your Eyes Open on Social
If you’ve been involved with marketing in our digital age, you’ve likely heard of the term “social listening,” but, what does it really mean? Social listening involves looking for trends and patterns in the data collected and mentions your brand receives from various online sources. While the term may often be used synonymously with social monitoring, there is a clear distinction between the two. As MarketingProfs aptly explained, “Monitoring sees trees; listening sees the forest.”
Why is this distinction important? According to data compiled by Mention, a whopping “30.72% of tweets containing company names don’t include their Twitter handle.” That means that you could, potentially, miss out on addressing nearly a third of complaints regarding your brand. That’s huge!
Fortunately, there are tools to help you be a more effective, active listener. In August 2016, Shopify listed eight of the most popular and effective ones currently available:
- Sprout Social
These tools can give you a better look at the needs (and complaints) of your customers while providing insights about your audience. This allows you to tailor your communications to best connect with clients through custom social media content.
Be a Joiner
Is having a Facebook page and LinkedIn account enough or is there a better way to use these sites to gain clients? The truth is, if you haven’t joined any groups, you may be missing your most valuable networking opportunities.
Current trends have repeatedly shown that searching for new employees has definitely become more social.
- 92 percent of recruiters have used social media for recruitment
- More than 93 percent of companies have used LinkedIn to connect with potential hires
- 55 percent turned to Facebook
How, then, can you stand out among the reported 2.3 billion active social media users worldwide? By joining groups on the two most used networks – LinkedIn and Facebook.
As CIO explains, you must have a strategy to make the most of your membership in order to reap its rewards. There are so many groups on both sites, take some time to select the ones that best represent your goals and interests and then introduce yourself! Don’t stop there, though! Continue to be an active contributor in order to build strong, healthy relationships. As Hootsuite says “answering and asking questions in groups gets you noticed professionally.”
Invest a Little Bit of Money
You don’t need to have a big budget to have a huge impact. Creating ads on Facebook and Twitter can be affordable and flexible while serving to increase the reach of your brand without breaking the bank.
On Facebook, you can come up with custom ads that are meant for a specific audience. The cost will be based on the options you’ve chosen in terms of the reach of the ad and the number of clicks it receives. Again, the benefit here is that this is targeted advertising meant for generating quality leads.
Twitter, on the other hand, provides several options for advertising including one called Promoted Tweets which places messages directly in the timelines of a pre-determined audience. By targeting specific Twitter users, the campaign has a better chance of being relevant and effective at generating new leads.
An added bonus of being familiar and comfortable with social media advertising, of course, is that you can then offer these services to your clients.
Put Yourself Out There
We’ve all heard of cold calling, the act of picking up the phone and moving down the list of names in the phone book (remember those?) in hopes of making new connections. Today, we have “cold tweeting,” which is similar in the sense that you will be reaching out to people that you don’t know. While it does take some initial courage, this can be an extremely effective way of gaining new followers (and, potentially, new clients) if you follow some cardinal rules:
- Build a relationship before trying to “sell” them.
- Listen to what they identify as their wants and needs.
- Be polite and respectful of their boundaries.
Treat these interactions as you would any in-person attempts at building new relationships. Be calm, be patient, and be your best self!
Be a Thought Leader
One of the most important things you can do is establish yourself as a thought leader by publishing engaging, informative content on your social media pages. Forbes takes this concept a step further by breaking down the definition into two parts. First, the site defines a thought leader as “an individual or firm that prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise.”
Setting yourself apart as a trusted source, or expert, by inspiring and informing your followers is very attractive to your clients. It’s also very important to your success. The second part of Forbes’ definition is that “a thought leader is an individual or firm that significantly profits from being recognized as such.”
Still, you don’t want to bombard your followers with blog posts in a way that feels overwhelming or unnatural. For these reasons, you will want to follow the Social Media Rule of Thirds. Various sites, including Hootsuite and Upcontent, mention this strategy but here’s a quick overview:
- 1/3 of your content should focus on your business or brand
- 1/3 of your content should involve the sharing of ideas and stories about your industry
- 1/3 of your content should be based on personal interactions
Following this guideline prevents your readers from feeling like you are constantly trying to sell them something. Instead, there is a healthy balance between posts that promote your work, establish you as an expert in your industry, and allows your followers to get to know you on a more personal level.
Be Entertaining and Relevant
You can create the most comprehensive plan for acquiring new clients but, ultimately, it will come down to one thing in the end – likeability. If your page doesn’t have a fun, vibrant feel to it, your followers will leave and never come back.
Think about the last time you visited a social media page. What was important to you? Did you check to see how regularly they posted new content? Did you unfollow pages that focused only on business? Were you drawn to those that found clever ways to be lighthearted and engaging?
These are some of the ways in which tools like PromoRepublic can help you create a presence that is warm and effective while still being professional. By using the calendar full of creative content, you will never miss an opportunity to publish a great holiday or event-driven post that your readers will love.
By creating a social media environment that is welcoming, but polished, you send the message that you can help them accomplish that same inviting and successful online presence.