Like nearly all Freelance consultants, I engage in social media (LinkedIn) for professional reasons. I have yet to obtain a client through social media interactions (my business is nearly 100% referral, since basically no one hires business strategists or marketing consultants without a personal endorsement), but I must keep up appearances and so I keep my profile in good shape and post relevant updates to keep things fresh.
The experts say that like all marketing campaigns, what and how you communicate through social media must appropriately reflect your brand and appeal to current and prospective clients. To achieve the desired return on investment from social media, it is imperative to deliver the right message to the right sites. To accomplish that, you must know the customer. Who hires you and what type of social media might they trust and follow?
To help define which social media platforms to focus on, begin with the age group of your prospects. Are they under 35 years old? If so, they are more likely to be very comfortable with a variety of social media. They’re likely to own a smart phone, tablet and laptop. They may very well create and copiously share online social media content in their personal and professional lives.
Conversely, if your typical clients are 40+ years old (like mine), they are less likely to be heavily involved in social media and much less likely to create content. They may own a smart phone, are guaranteed to use a computer and may even own a tablet, but should they decide to share content, it was most likely created by someone else.
Social media expert Judith Lewis says that about 20% of social media users are High Sharers and about 80% Low Sharers. High Sharers are almost three times as likely as Low Sharers to recommend products or services to those in their network. Therefore, it is wise to create content that will appeal to the High Sharers, who will do some “e-legwork” on your behalf and boost your social media ROI.
Lewis has identified seven types of social media High Sharers and explains how their sharing style can be leveraged to target and engage clients and prospects. Give the list a read and see how you might tweak your message and perhaps vary the sites you use:
Altruists share content out of a desire to help those in their network. They respond well to appeals made through email and Facebook. Altruists make up the largest percentage of social media users.
This group shares information if they feel it will be useful for a specific individual. They usually use email to share information. Selectives comprise the second largest percentage of social media users.
Passionates share information with those who share their intense interest in a given topic, cause, band, fashion designer or whatever. This group uses Facebook most frequently. Also, they are big contributors to customer review sites.
As their name describes, this group likes bringing people together to socialize or perhaps do business. Connectors tend to use several social media sites, most notably LinkedIn, Flickr, Twitter and Facebook.
This type uses social media sites to show the world that they are on the bleeding edge of the hottest trends. Trendspotters are compelled to build their credibility and they are busy working many social media platforms. YouTube, Foursquare, Delicious, Twitter and Facebook are favorites. Trendspotters can be very useful for B2C ventures seeking to increase visibility and sales, especially in fashion, electronics and baby products.
Bloggers often fall into this category (but not your humble diarist). Provocateurs like to do just that—be controversial, cheeky and outrageous and get a rise out their readers. In addition to their blog, these folks tend to favor YouTube, Delicious, Flickr and Twitter.
This group will use social media networking almost exclusively for business purposes. They favor LinkedIn, but will use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook as needed, to effectively share information about their business enterprise or career.
As a postscript, I will say that I don’t know any Freelancers who have successfully monetized their social media relationships. From time to time I read and participate in LinkedIn Answers and there are those who swear that they get clients (whom they have never met) through LinkedIn. I have my doubts. Still, creating some buzz will never hurt your business. If you’re able to get on the radar screen of a High Sharer who will post a good recommendation for your services, at the very least this may help convince someone who is on the fence to go ahead and offer you the contract.
Thanks for reading,