21 Freelancing Social Media Faux Pas

You’ve heard how wonderful a tool social media is for freelancers. For little to no cost and a minimal time commitment you can find exposure for your freelancing business that used to be beyond the reach of most solo professionals.

But don’t take social media too lightly. To get results, you need to learn to use it effectively. Sadly, many freelancing professionals fail to get the kind of results they would like from social media. That’s because they make embarrassing mistakes.

In this post, I’ll list twenty-one embarrassing mistakes that I’ve seen on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and other social media sites. You can use this list as a handy checklist to make sure that your social media presence is all that it should be.

Avoid These Social Media Faux Pas

Are you getting any results from your social media participation? If you answered “no,” then check the list below to see if you’re making any of these common mistakes:

  1. No image–Not having an image on your social media profile flags you as a spammer for many people. Studies have shown that most social media participants prefer a photo of a person. If you’re too shy to share your photo online, try using a scaled down version of your logo. Just don’t let the social media platform’s default become your image.
  2. Unprofessional image–Another problem that I see all the time is inappropriate images. Remember that your social media presence represents your freelancing business. You shouldn’t share images or use an image in your profile that you wouldn’t want on your freelancing website.
  3. No bio–One of the first things I check when I decide whether or not to follow/friend someone through social media is their profile. A good profile should be a brief description of what you do. Don’t make your prospective clients guess (they won’t spend the time anyway). No bio = no follow.
  4. No link back to your website or blog–This is a huge mistake that I see a lot of freelancers making. They have a strong social media presence, but their profile has no way to contact them. I’ve even seen Twitter profiles that link back to the user’s Twitter page! Make it easy for people to find you and link to your site.
  5. Sending a direct message that can’t be responded to–It can’t be responded to because you’ve sent the message to someone you haven’t friended. This is annoying habit that I blame on auto responders and similar utilities. The first impulse that most of us have when receiving a direct message is to reply.
  6. Not answering when someone addresses you directly–You wouldn’t ignore someone in a room if they walked up to you and said “hello,” would you? Of course not. You shouldn’t ignore people on social media who address you directly either (unless, of course, you suspect they are a spammer).
  7. Not thinking before sharing–What you share should have value to your friends/circles/followers. Unfortunately, too many of us share impulsively without considering whether the share has any real value. If you really want your social media marketing to be effective, make sure your shares count.
  8. Not reading what you shared–After a while on social media you may find yourself tweeting material from the same sources over and over. You may be tempted to set your account up to automatically share whatever these sources produce. Don’t do it! Read what you share before sharing.
  9. Sharing junk–Make sure that you are sharing something that your followers (and especially your prospective clients) will appreciate. Humor, in particular, is tricky. Remember that what’s funny to one person could be offensive to another.
  10. Sharing only sales pitches–One of the quickest ways to lose friends and followers is to share nothing but sales pitch after sales pitch. Yes, you are on social media for marketing purposes–but what you are going after is relationship marketing not a hard sell to a bunch of strangers.
  11. Getting into an argument online–Keep your arguments with other users offline and private. If someone tries to bait you into a fight, ignore them. That’s usually enough to get them to quit. In particular, don’t get into personal disagreements with friends and family members on social media.
  12. Sharing personal rants–A related topic is ranting about clients and colleagues. It may feel good to rant about a client online, but if you do so you may be hurting your freelancing business. A prospective client who reads your rant may fear that they will become the subject of one of your next online rants.
  13. Sharing URLs with no headline or explanation–I can’t figure out why anyone would do this on social media, yet I see it all the time. I can only assume that a button or automated feature somewhere is broken. Sharing a link without any explanation makes you look like a spammer (even if you’re not).
  14. Sharing information that is so obscure nobody can relate–No one wants to guess what your post or tweet means. Sharing obscure references doesn’t make you intriguing, it makes you foolish. If it’s based on a private joke that only you and your fourth grade best friend know keep it offline.
  15. Using obscenities–Another faux pas that I see all of the time. While some freelancers may disagree, think of your prospective clients. Will they be offended if you use bad language? If you answered “yes,” then you probably already know to avoid using it.
  16. Begging for work online–Social media marketing is a form of relationship marketing. The core thought behind social media marketing is getting to know people. That means interacting. Once someone knows you and you have built a relationship, you may approach them privately to see if they can use their services.
  17. Obvious typos in your online profile–Typos in a profile are especially bad for freelance writers, but they can be distracting in anyone’s profile. A prospective client reading your profile may interpret it to mean that you are not careful enough to trust with their project.
  18. Having an unused social media account–Having an unused social media account isn’t necessarily embarrassing. Lots of individuals and companies create profiles and then let them sit for whatever reason. However, an unused social media account doesn’t benefit your freelancing business either.
  19. Not sharing your social media information–Social media is a great excuse to stay in touch with people that you meet and former clients. Yet many freelancers fail to use their social media accounts in this way. Be sure to include your social media profile on your website and business stationery.
  20. Not meeting new people–Just like with any other group of people, it’s tempting to find a group on social media that you feel comfortable with and stick to interacting those folks only. However, if you want to really use your social media presence to grow your freelance business you need to branch out and meet others.
  21. Being too automated–Make sure that some of your social media interactions are personal and real time. Automation tools are convenient, but your clients can sense when your only interactions are automated shares.

Your Turn

What social media faux pas have you noticed online?

Share your answers in the comments.

Image by opportplanet