Intro to Social Media Marketing for Freelancers

Start by watching this video, and then we’ll dive into the nuts and bolts:

Social media isn’t just for sharing cat memes and finding out what your friends are doing, It’s also a great business tool.

Many freelancers successfully use social media to bring an endless stream of leads to their virtual door – their website. You can too.

This set of learning tracks will focus on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, but of course there are other social media sites like Pinterest and Snapchat, as well as video sites like YouTube and Tiktok. You can apply many of the principles you’ll learn here as a starting point for creating your social media marketing strategy on those platforms, too. 

To use social media successfully, you’ll need to:

  • Know your goals (as with content marketing, these might be building brand awareness, generating leads or landing clients)
  • Know your audience (which you should do already if you’ve worked through the previous learning tracks)
  • Understand the demographics of each social media platform (we’ll get to that soon)

But before we dive into the platforms individually, let’s take a look at some overall information on social media as a whole.

Activity 1: Decide how you want to use social media

Let’s start by thinking about the ways in which you can use social media for your freelance business. I’ve used it for:

  • Watercooler chat with other writers, which has sometimes brought me leads
  • Looking out for opportunities to help others with advice or resources
  • Sharing work I’ve done with my followers, which increases their awareness of my work and helps me show my expertise

Together, all of those send clients to my website regularly. Now it’s your turn. 

Let’s begin, as always, with some reading material, to help as you start to think about your social media strategy.

First of all, there’s an article from CoSchedule, on the benefits of social media marketing for business. It outlines 20 ways your business can use social media effectively, and it’s a good starting point for thinking about how you want to use social media as a whole.

And there’s additional insight on online networking which can apply to all social media sites:

You can also read this article from Buffer on social media goals:

Assignment: based on the information in these articles, write down three social media goals for your freelance business. 

Activity 2: Understand your audience

In the early learning blocks, we talked about the importance of knowing your audience in order to create a website that appealed to them, and to use content marketing effectively. It’s the same with social media marketing.

Now, once you start using social media, each platform provides analytics on your followers and their engagement with your content, but before that, you’ll have to rely on what you already know – and that means paying attention to who’s visiting your website. The best way to do that is with Google Analytics.

Here’s a video from Orbit Media that talks about this:

And here’s a deeper guide to the whole strategy: 

Assignment: set up Google Analytics for your website, Note: If you are setting this up for the first time, it may take a day or so for it to collect data. 

You can either use Google’s own guide:

Or: READ: Get started with Analytics – Analytics Help

Or use this plugin for WordPress websites:

Assignment: Check out your social media audience. Write down at least three things you learn about them.

Activity 3: Understand social media demographics

One of the first steps is to understand who’s on which platform. Start by watching the video below:

Then, here’s some additional reading:

Assignment: based on the information above, write down which social media platform or platforms you plan to use to get clients and why you have chosen them.

Activity 4: Understand the different types of social media content

A key aspect of getting social media right is understanding what kind of content works best to engage your audience and, just as importantly, what works best on each platform. We may have looked at this before when talking about blogging and content marketing, but it’s worth refreshing your memory:

I’ll share some insight about what’s worked best for me as a long-time freelancer as we get to the individual platforms, but use the articles above to start thinking about the content you’ll use to attract the attention of potential clients on social media. 

Assignment: Write down three types of content you plan to use on your main social media platform.

Activity 5: Create your social media strategy

Once you understand the demographics and content for each social media platform, know your audience and have an idea what you want to achieve, you can begin to think about your social media strategy. This is a starting point, as the strategy will evolve when:

  • You look at each platform in more detail
  • You use the platforms’ own analytics to understand even more about your audience
  • You learn which platforms work best for YOUR particular audience

That said, it makes sense to have a plan. In the article below, Heidi Cohen outlines how to create a brief social media strategy. Don’t worry if you can’t fill in everything yet. You can always come back to it as we go through each platform. 

Assignment: create your own one-page social media strategy.

There are just a few more points to make before we dive into the individual platforms. 

First, while you may want to focus on one or two platforms, it doesn’t hurt to have an occasional presence on others, and I encourage you to work through each set of tasks to get the main sites up and running. For me, personally, LinkedIn is currently the most effective, followed by Twitter, but it may be different for you and your audience. 

One last piece of advice. Whether you’re starting from scratch or building on your presence on one of the platforms, think carefully about your username – you want to make it as easy as possible to recognize your business on any platform.  

Feel free to discuss anything in this track at one of the freelance writing drop in sessions.