Twitter. Love it or hate it, this social media tool helps connect online communities, breaks news stories, and drives thousands of visitors to the world’s best websites 140 characters at at time.
But with all the other things we have to do, should freelancers really be wasting their time on Twitter?
Short answer? Maybe. Depending on your industry and personality, Twitter can be a completely free way to attract new clients and generate buzz about your business.
Here are 5 easy ways to turn your tweets into new work without spending all day staring at your stream:
1. Choose a handle and bio that reflect your professional self or business.
Your handle is sometimes the first and only thing that a potential clients sees. Choose your business name if you can, or something that reflects your expertise, like @CopyQueen or @NeverStopsCoding. Don’t leave your bio blank, and try not to be too cute with it. Twitter users want to be sure you’re worth following, and if you’ve got a bio that’s empty or full of personal likes/typos, you’re making a bad first impression. Save that stuff for your personal account.
2. Remember that Twitter is about conversation, not followers.
Marketing gurus want to convince you that building massive lists of followers will exponentially increase your chances of retweets, clicks, and ultimately sales. That might work for celebrities or international sites like Mashable and TechCrunch, but its unlikely to have the same effect for John Q. Freelancer. But you have an advantage that those mega-tweeters won’t ever have–you’re a real person, free to use your account to connect with current and future clients in a personable manner. Ask questions, post interesting links, and provide suggestions when others ask for help. If someone likes your short reply, they might pay you for your long answer.
3. Follow #hashtags related to your industry.
If you’re using Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to manage your Twitter account, set up a new stream following keywords in your industry. This is a great way to find people who are asking questions or seeking advice on a topic related to your business. It’s also a great way to find other like-minded Tweeters to follow and chat with. Some tags you might want to try include: #jobs (such as #designjobs, #writingjobs, etc), #jobs, #projects, and so on.
4. Find and follow thought-leaders in your industry.
Search your favorite blogs or professional sites for Twitter handles to follow. Engage these experts publicly by asking advice or commenting on something they wrote. If you become a Twitter friend that they trust, they just might recommend you the next time they encounter a project that’s not right for their business.
5. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself.
When Twitter first exploded, everyone cautioned against being a one-note Tweeter. While it’s true that you should avoid sounding like a used car salesman every time someone mentions needing a web developer, there are times when it’s right to offer your services. If you see someone looking for professional help, offer to discuss their project offline, or direct them to a satisfied client for whom you completed similar work. Offering free quotes or consultations is another non-invasive way to say, “I’m here and ready to work for you” without being annoying.
Have you ever landed a job (directly or indirectly) because of social media? Share your experience in a comment!
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