The goal with your following is to build a loyal following, not necessarily a large following. And to maintain two way communications with those people.
Social media marketing is a form of relationship marketing. The fundamental principle is all about getting to know people, rather than open promotion. That means interacting on a reasonably regular basis.
Once someone knows you and you have built a relationship, you can listen out for people who have requirements, and approach them, or depending on the relationship, approach them to see if they can use your services. Make sure the people you want to do business with are social media users - some industries, like retail and design, are much more savvy than others, accountancy for example.
Complete your profile fully, and have a professional photo you use across all channels.
Make sure the words people use to search for a person with your skills are peppered throughout your profile to help you appear higher up in search results. 3-4 times per single keyword per bio is about right as a general rule.
You can use the Google Keyword Tool to find out the volume of searches for each of your skills, then optimise the wording of your profile and contract history to match that information.
Connect with more people who are in your industry - you can search for them by role/industry using tools like Twellow.com.
Participate in group discussions, particularly on LinkedIn. Be careful not to offer too much information for free – otherwise you can end up building a following of strapped-for-cash startups, for example – great for them, but hopeless for your business.
What do your most successful competitors do on social media, can you adopt some of their strategies?
Have a specific plan to follow, for example share 2 industry news stories on each channel a week, write 1 blog post, leave a comment on an influential blogger’s post in your industry, check on the status updates of 25% of your followers and see if you can help/interact with them in a meaniful way.
Set up searches to monitor people looking for your skills, especially on twitter, where you don’t need to be friends to see what someone else is saying. Tweetdeck is good for that – you can set up things you search for regularly.
Make sure you accurately set up commonly used search phrases that people post when looking for extra help, a slight change in wording can dramatically change the relevance and volume of results you get back.
Make sure you’ve connected with all the people you’ve had successful working relationships with before moving onto “colder” leads. Set a time limit on your social media efforts – choose a regular amount of time to work with your campaign to make sure you don’t make too much or too little effort. Follow up all contacts promptly.
Remember, that finding your own work through social media is much more risky than using more certain techniques like job sites – you can end up expending a lot of effort for little immediate (cash) gain. Use a mix of methods to market your business.
Here are my top 5 tips:
1. Find the right place for your website to live:
Get some hosting that supports a free open-source tool called Wordpress. The benefits of Wordpress are that you can edit your site through a browser, rather than relying on special tools.There are lots of premium quality themes available for wordpress off the shelf for around £30. They look professional, and save you the expense of starting from scratch. It has a good support forum and there are lots of websites with free training, and thousands of hours of video tips on YouTube.
2. Don’t look at it as a technical or design exercise, it’s a marketing asset you’re building:
Don’t use your company website as an opportunity (ie excuse) to learn a new programming language or design skill. Don’t get really hung up on the “exact shade of blue” and how many pixels wide your menu should be – concentrate on explaining why people should hire you – it’s that information that gets you your sales.
When you’re getting started a clean profesional look and feel to your site is perfectly adequate. Use your website to explain how you ensure customers meet their IT/business goals, write everything from a customer’s perspective. Don’t write from your perspective.
To test this quickly, if your web copy has lots of “I” , “Me” and “we” words in there, you’re not writing from the customers perspective.
Invest in a few books on copywriting and marketing, to learn more about how to communicate effectively with your customers
3. Do a competitor review:
Research other leading websites in your niche – how have they organised their information? What have they said on their site?
Imagine if you were a customer, and ask yourself would you buy from them? If yes why? If no why?
Cherrypick the best competitor ideas and use that as your starting point for your own ideas
4. Make it easy to contact you and refer you to others:
Add a contact form and a clickable link email address. Add other contact methods, such as your LinkedIn profile (if you have one) and Skype contact details are good if you plan to get international business.Add social tools, so people can bookmark and share your details – even if you may or may not be a heavy social media user – a significant number of your potential clients will be.
5. Add credibility boosters:
If you have testimonials, or endorsements on LinkedIn, quote them. If you’ve worked on projects that have won awards, mention them. If you saved clients lots of time and money, or made the more efficient or profitable, quantify those benefits – so people can see they are getting a good deal hiring you. They can see the benefits outway the cost.Add a portfolio if you do visual/design work.
Remember your site will always be a work in progress, so don’t wait until everything is absolutely perfect to publish before pressing the launch button – get it going, and refine as you go – otherwise you risk never launching it.
Thanks for the question, and good luck with your site. Colette