The Top 10 Social Media Options for Freelancers & Small Business Owners

If you’re just getting started on social media, you’re in luck. Today, you have more social media options than ever before.

The fact is, for most internet users, social media is the main reason they get online. Chances are that many of those same users are also your clients and potential clients. If your freelancing business is not on social media yet, you’re falling behind.

Whether you’re new to freelancing and want to set up an online social media presence ASAP, or you’re a seasoned freelancing veteran who is just now taking the social media plunge, you’re sure to find a platform that appeals to you.

In this post, I’ll provide a quick overview of each of the major social media platforms and explain why a freelancer might wish to use each.

Ten Social Media Platforms for Freelancers

Here are some of the most popular social media tools that freelancers use:

  1. Facebook–Even if you’ve never been active in social media, it’s likely that you’ve heard of this social media site. That’s because as of February 2012 Facebook has over 845 million monthly active users (according to Facebook’s own statistics). You may know Facebook as the network to use to contact your out-of-state cousin or long-last high school friend. But did you know that you can also create a Facebook Fan page just for your freelancing business?
  2. LinkedIn–This social networking site differentiates itself by marketing itself as a professional network site. As such, it’s a favorite of corporations and other businesses. For starters, think about it as your online resume, except on steroids. You can list your work experience, links to your work samples, and even invite people to leave references for you. There’s more, though. LinkedIn is also home to hundreds of professional discussion groups.
  3. Twitter–Twitter is quick and fun. If you can encapsulate your freelancing business message in 140 words or less, then you can use Twitter. Currently, the site seems to be a favorite of journalists (citizen and otherwise) who use it to broadcast articles and other information. It’s also a favorite among conference organizers since Twitter live blogging an event can generate interest. Others use it as a way to instant message contacts using the DM feature.
  4. Quora–Do you have a depth of knowledge in a specific field or fields? Quora is a question and answer site, but prides itself on the quality of the answers that Quora users provide. In fact, the answers on Quora are often article-length and can be quite comprehensive. Not only is Quora a forum for showing off your expertise, it can also be used to research topics. Ask a new question of your own, or browse through the answers to existing questions.
  5. Pinterest–This is an up and coming social media site that has shown fast growth and popularity. Basically, it works like this. Users “pin” images of things that they are interested in to their “bulletin boards” on the site so that other users can view and comment on the images. Some freelancers have experimented with using affiliate links or using the images that they share to draw traffic to their website. If you sell a product or need to drive traffic, it’s worth looking into.
  6. Google+–The search engine giant is branching out. If you hadn’t noticed, they’ve launched a number of business and consumer-oriented products in recent years. Google+ is an important social media platform–both because it is tied to the powerful Google search engine and because it has shown a healthy growth during its first year. Users tend to be less frivolous than those on other sites. Expect to see even more upgrades and attention paid to this social media tool in coming months.
  7. MySpace–In many ways, this is the granddaddy of all social media sites. MySpace was the first of the “mega” social media sites. It was originally founded in 2003 and was once the most visited social networking site in the world. MySpace still gets millions of visitors each month. This social media tool is known for its active music and entertainment industry communities, but there are other communities as well. Don’t discount this one if your prospects are here.
  8. Tumblr–Tumblr is a microblogging tool. It allows users to create and share original content of various types. As of the time this article was written, Tumblr was getting over 15 billion page views in a single month (per Mashable). Now, that’s significant! One thing that Tumblr has going for it from a freelancing perspective is that it’s very easy to use. In general, Tumblr users tend to be younger and more visually oriented. If you like to share photos or images, Tumblr might be right for you.
  9. StumbleUpon–This is one of a number of popular news bookmarking sites. (There are many others including Digg and Reddit.) Like all bookmarking sites, StumbleUpon gives you the opportunity to mark and share content that you like with other users. Users select the interests that they would like to explore and the shares that they see are tailored to this preference. StumbleUpon also allows you to comment on shares and contact other users.
  10. YouTube–No list of freelancing social media tools is complete without YouTube. This is an extremely popular site where users share videos of all types. Not only that, many videos can be embedded in blog posts and on other sites. You’ve probably already watched many YouTube videos. For a freelancer seeking to establish their expertise, YouTube can be an invaluable tool. You can create an interesting video that explains a topic of interest to your prospects.

What Do You Think?

Of course, these are just overviews of some of the most popular social media tools that freelancers should consider using. There are many other social media tools available.

If you’re a veteran freelancer who has already been using social media for a while, what tool have you found to be the most useful? Share your answers in the comments.