Are you fun and carefree? Or are you all-business, with each and every tweet and update carefully crafted to hook prospects and clients? Are you funny? Random? Self-centered?
Whatever your current style, you can probably make a few tweaks to get even more results from your social media presence. Don’t worry. You don’t have to spend any more time on social media than you’re already doing. Neither do you have to don an ill-fitting persona (more on that below).
A “style” is your way of doing things. In this post, we’re looking at our style of using social media.
What Do We Mean by Social Media?
Let’s back up a little to make sure we all mean the same thing when we say “social media.” As I mentioned in this post, social media is composed of web-based platforms that allow users to create their own content and interact with each other.
Therefore, social media is not just about Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. It also includes blogs, YouTube, StumbleUpon and Delicious. But also Tumblr and anything else similar that will emerge after this post is published.
We want to look at our style of “doing” social media, because ultimately, we want social media to pay off. Whether you’re using it simply to have fun and pass the time, or to seriously build your freelancing business, you’ll want a style that helps you accomplish that.
So here are ten ways you can supercharge your social media style:
1. Set Clear Goals
Know what you want out of social media. Maybe you want to blog just to let off some steam and document your daily life as a freelancer. Or maybe you’re out on the Interwebs to attract more clients and finally have financial stability. There’s no right or wrong here. You can use social media to achieve either of these goals.
The key is to match your style with your goals. For example, if your goal is to attract more prospective clients, then every update, every blog post, every tweet and every video you publish should somehow be contributing to that goal.
Warning: If you’re in social media just to have fun, keep in mind that a lot of the content you publish will be indexed in the search engines and can be found by potential clients. Sure, you can set your Facebook account security so that only your friends can see every incriminating picture. But not so with your Twitter updates. Rumor has it, Twitter stores ALL tweets. Keep this in mind when using the different social media platforms.
You could certainly have different goals for each social media site. For example, for me, Facebook is purely for personal fun. I like to have that space to be able to post inane and mundane things about my life. So, unless a client is a personal friend of mine, he or she isn’t likely to be my Facebook friend.
My goals for my blog, Twitter and LinkedIn are different, however, and I use them accordingly.
2. Know Your Audience
With your goals clear in your mind, you’ll also have a good idea who your audiences are. This could be different for each social media platform, again depending on your goals for each. Once you know your audience, you’ll know what types of updates, links and content they like.
Don’t try to please every one. You simply can’t. The cool thing about social media is, you can’t “inflict” yourself on anybody. If they don’t like you, it’s very easy to un-like, un-follow, and un-subscribe from your feeds.
3. Be Real
You’ve heard it before and hopefully, you learned this back in high school: be yourself. That’s just the easiest, simplest, most effective way to get any lasting, positive results from social media. When you’re being authentic, then you’ll attract the right people for you. And you won’t have to exert any effort trying to be somebody else.
I was just talking to someone who told me he chose Business Coach A over another because Coach B “swears like a truck driver.” Would I advise Coach B to stop swearing so much? Heck, no! She has successfully weeded out people who won’t appreciate her personality and style–which is one of the signs of good marketing.
Even though I use Twitter for more professional goals, I’m never afraid of tweeting occasionally about my family life, cooking and baking adventures, and personal opinions on current events. If a prospect thinks talking about my children is boring, or testing gluten-free recipes is a waste of time, then they’re probably not my Ideal Client anyway.
4. Be Consistent
Being consistent in your tone, language, content and overall presence is a natural consequence of being yourself. In other words, you can’t be Mother Teresa on LinkedIn and Kat von D on Twitter.
Consistency also refers to how often you use social media. For example, you can’t publish posts to your blog daily one month and then not publish again for two months. You need to be consistently present to make and sustain relationships online.
Since we don’t have all the time in the world to spend in social media, we have to be selective about which platforms we choose to be active in. The best advice I can give you, to make sure you’ll still have time to actually do client work, is to set a timer before you open your social media accounts. When the timer goes off, shut off your Tweetdeck or Facebook and get back to work!
Don’t be a social media j*rk and make everything all about yourself. Sure, people are interested in you–but only to the extent that you actually care about them. If every single thing you tweet or post is only about you–what you ate, where you went, what you just published on your blog–then people will grow tired of you.
Instead, take the time to respond, comment on other people’s blogs and posts, retweet interesting things, share what your Facebook friend posted on their wall. Social media thrives on interaction, so interact!
6. Be Funny or Useful or Both
Most people are online for one of two reasons: to get work done or to be entertained. And most of the time, it’s probably the latter. Help them achieve those goals by either always talking about things they’ll find interesting and practical in their personal or professional lives. Look for posts, videos and pictures online that will make your audience say, “This is so cool! I’m going to bookmark this, because I’m sure I’m going to want to see this again.”
Alternatively, post things that will make them smile or, better yet, laugh. Ever wonder why nonsensical websites about cats become uber popular? Because they’re cute and funny. They make us smile and go, “Awww!” Strive to share things that will elicit a similar reaction (Tip: If you have kids and pets, you’re in luck!).
7. Get Multi-Media
The Internet is primarily made up of words, but a lot of people are visual or auditory. That is, their brains are wired to absorb information either through images or sound. Use more pictures, audio and video to spice things up. Not only will your content be more interesting, but your audience will also absorb it better. There are plenty of apps that will allow you to instantly post pictures, audio and video to your social media accounts.
Social media can help you accomplish a lot of things, but it takes plenty of time and energy to juggle a blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, FourSquare, etc. all at the same time. How can you stay active in all these social media platforms and still get work done? The answer is automation.
Take advantage of the plugins, apps and other tools now available to you. For example, you can blog on your iPad and preschedule posts to be published at whatever future dates you choose. Then you can use a plugin to tweet a link to your blog posts as they are published. You can link your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts to Twitter so all your tweets are automagically posted to those accounts as well. Really, there’s no excuse for you not to look like you’re all over the place.
That said, you cannot automate (or delegate) engagement. Make time for that (see number 5).
9. Have Fun
Even if you’re in social media for purely business reasons, you should still have some fun. Join a few contests and polls. Join a Twitter chat and meet new people. Better yet, organize your own virtual events. Host a giveaway on your blog. Or have one exclusively for your Facebook page likers. Design an online Easter egg hunt (attention programmers!). Get creative. The more fun, the better.
10. Have a Life
I read about a blogger who said he used to have a full life and that’s why he was able to write such an interesting blog. And then the blog took over his life. He started spending so much time in front of the computer that, in effect, he no longer had a life. As a result, his blog became dull and boring.
The Bottom Line
You have to go out there and actually have something to share with your audience. You can’t shine in social media by merely passing on other people’s good stuff. Go out and make some of your own.
Social Media Makeover
What’s your social media style? Did this post inspire you to give your social media presence a makeover? If so, how?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Image by J.J. Verhoef