Everyone is active on social media these days in some capacity. Most of us have personal accounts where we keep track of what's going on with friends and family. And as you already know, social media is also a great form of networking and marketing for just about any business. But how do you choose which platforms are best for your business?
You may find that the platforms you use to keep up with loved ones are not the best ones to use for your business marketing and keeping up with clients. Mine aren't! But with a little bit of planning and goals on what you want to get out of social media for your business, you can maximize how you use the different platforms and channels for marketing.
So, how do you decide?
First things first. Determine which channels are right to market your services. These are not the same as the platforms where you like to hang out; they are the platforms where your audience is hanging out. Also ask yourself where the folks hang out who refer your services to others. For example, I get a good mix of referrals from friends and clients. So, it makes sense for me to have a Facebook page for my business for those friends and clients who hang out on Facebook. By posting regularly from a business page, you can share what you're working on, as well as the fun stuff, like anecdotes, funny mistranslations, etc. Facebook is a platform where people go to take their mind off their work and life's daily happenings, as well as to see what others are doing. So, if you are going to use Facebook for marketing, make sure to keep most of the content light and avoid posting too much of the heavier stuff.
What should you post?
It's vital to know who you're talking to with your messaging, and to be consistent with it. The content you share on your personal accounts is not likely to be the same as the content you want to share with current and potential clients. Twitter is a great example of how to differentiate your messaging across two accounts: personal and business. For example, I have a personal account, on which I tweet and share others' content related to translation and interpreting, but most of it is meant for folks within the T&I industry. My business Twitter account is client-facing, however. That's where we post content that might interest current and potential clients. The use of hashtags is another way to help you differentiate your posts. If you use #xl8 or #1nt, then your posts are going to be seen by colleagues in T&I. So, determine two things before you get started: 1) who your target audience is and 2) how best to "talk" to them. Make sure you also search for hashtags to find potential clients to add to those you already use and know about.
What if you don't know where your clients hang out online?
If you're not sure where your clients hang out on social media, a good place to start is to visit their websites. See what social media accounts they link to and take some time to research their posts, how they "talk" and the tone they use. Of course, only look at the social media accounts of those clients who you want to keep working with. After all, what good does it do to prolong conversations with clients you're looking to replace, with say, higher paying or higher quality clients?
For more reading on how to determine and reach your ideal clients, check out How to Determine and Attract Your Ideal Client and Seven Tips for Effective Networking When You Work From Home.
How do you keep track of it all?
Marketing on social media platforms takes some work, but it doesn't have to take up all your time. Choose one or two platforms that you can become familiar with, and make an effort to use them consistently and well.
Decide if you're going to schedule your posts ahead of time with a service like Hootsuite, Buffer, Meet Edgar, etc. or if you plan to do them on the fly. There are perks to both approaches! Schedule time on your calendar to engage with people, even if only for 20 minutes a day.
On some platforms, the best way to engage is directly on others' feeds or through DMs (direct messages), but this isn't the case for all. If you are comfortable using a certain platform to market your business over another, go with that one. There's no point in marketing on social media if it's going to feel awkward or inauthentic. So, find your sweet spot and show up at least 5 days a week.
● Update the information in your social media profiles from time to time.
● Make sure you include how interested clients can reach you in this profile information, and use a professional image or headshot so that people know there's a real human behind the posts they see.
● Be as authentic as possible, and avoid looking at what others are doing.
● Make sure the information in your profile is consistent across all the platforms you use, as well as on your website. People shouldn't feel confused if they visit more than one of your social media platforms to learn more about you.
● Choose one or two platforms that work best in your field, i.e. the ones where your clients hang out and the ones that make sense for the field(s) in which you work, and master those.
● Provide quality content, and avoid posting just to post something. If this is hard for you, make a plan so that you don't feel forced to come up with content on the fly.
● Be consistent! If a client visits your Facebook page, and you haven't posted anything in the past six months, they may wonder if you're still practicing. This is the last impression you want to give!
Social media is an important part of marketing these days, but you don't have to be an expert on all platforms. Don't worry too much about constantly-changing algorithms; just show up consistently. And finally, be careful not to fall down the rabbit hole that social media can be. Set a timer and limit your usage to providing quality information and engaging with others on a regular basis. This leaves you plenty of time to do the paid work in your business.
And finally, decide how else you're going to reach your clients. After all, social media platforms are just rented space. You should always put more time and work into those platforms you own, like your website and email list.
To read more on how to best use your client email list, check out Three Reasons You Should Have an Email List for Your T&I Business and Some Bonus Tips. And for what to avoid when it comes to your professional website, be sure to read Five Website Mistakes Translators and Interpreters Make and How to Fix Them.