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How to Go Deeper with Social Media and Get Better Results

by Laura Spencer

on February 3, 2014

in Marketing Social Media

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If you’ve been freelancing for a while or if you’re a regular reader of FreelanceM.ag, you already understand the importance of social media participation.

You probably already have a social media profile set up on several networks. (If you don’t, or if you think social media is a complete waste of time, stop what you are doing and read this post right now: Should Freelancers “Waste” Time on Social Media?)

Despite having a social media presence, many freelancers report that they aren’t getting the results from social media that they had hoped for. There’s a reason for that. The reason is that most people fail to build relationships in social media–they simply don’t participate in a way that fosters relationship-building.

In this post I’ll explain how you can really build relationships using social media.

How the Typical Freelancer Participates in Social Media

Do you stand out social media?

If you’re truly honest with yourself, the answer to that question is probably “no.” The sad truth is that most freelancers don’t make the most of social media.

The vast majority of freelancers start out the same way on social media sites:

  • They create a profile. Sometimes the profile even looks really good. It has their contact information, a photo, and even links back to their blog or website.
  • They spend a week (or so) sharing posts several times a day. What they share is mostly from their own blog. In other words, they use social media mainly to broadcast their own stuff.
  • Their social media participation drops off after a week, or so. The freelancer was expecting (almost) immediate results and when that doesn’t happen, they stop using social media.

Unfortunately, if you’ve been using social media in the manner described above, you’ve been doing it wrong. Don’t feel bad if you’ve been making these mistakes. I’ve even seen big brands who get it wrong.

Social media is not about drawing attention to yourself as much as it is about building relationships. It’s those relationships that lead to work

Think about it. Who would you rather do business with? A complete stranger, or someone you already know and trust? I think you already know the answer to that question.

How to Truly Stand Out on Social Media

There is a better way to use social media. You don’t have to come across as just another garden variety freelancer in an already crowded freelance marketplace.

Instead, you can use social media to stand out and to build real relationships.

In just four easy steps, you can improve your social media engagement and start to build those relationships that will eventually lead to better opportunities:

  1. Share other people’s stuff too. Opinions vary as to what the right ratio should be, but I’ve had a lot of good luck with an 80/20 ratio. That means that your shares should be 80% other people’s posts and articles and 20% your own. Regardless of what ratio you choose, make sure everything you share is of high quality.
  2. Address people directly. People are less likely to ignore your social media comments if you address them to an individual (as appropriate, of course). Most social media platforms have a way for you to do this. In Google+ and Facebook, for example, type the + symbol before the user name. In Twitter, use the @ symbol.
  3. Join groups. Many social media platforms have groups that allow people with similar interests to connect with one another. Participating in an active group can be a great way to connect with others in your field. Set a goal of adding at least one comment to a group discussion every day.
  4. Take part in group events. Group events such as Google+ Hangouts and Tweet chats are just two examples of special events that foster interaction. Usually such events are centered around a specific topic of interest to the participants. Expect to spend a little more time when you participate in an event.

If you follow these four steps regularly, at the end of the year you should find that you have developed some real relationships through social media with others in your field. (If you’re looking for instant results, remember that it takes time to build relationships in the offline world too.)

Your Turn

What are your tips for going deeper in social media? How do you build relationships?

Share your stories in the comments below.

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About Laura Spencer

Laura Spencer is a freelance writer from North Central Texas with over 20 years of professional business writing experience. If you liked this post, then you may also enjoy Lauraâ??s blog about her freelance writing experiences, WritingThoughts. Laura is also on Google+.