Learn to Leverage Twitter
Freelancers and small business owners can learn a lot from how bigger businesses use their social media. You’re not going to be able to capitalize on everything these larger companies can, because your business model is different. However, there are some things big companies do to leverage their Twitter followers that freelancers can put into practice.
Some of these ideas were found in this FastCompany article. I weeded through all 21 of their tips to find the ones FreelanceSwitch readers can put into practice.
Offering coupons on coffee would work great for Starbucks, but clearly not for freelancers. But giving out your own special offer can help entice someone to try your services for the very first time, or attract a repeat customer.
Most of the freelancers that I know who utilize this are photographers. They’ll offer a special deal during certain times of the year (holidays, for example) for a special rate. Customers use a promo code to sign up for a photo shoot. Sometimes photographers will create a contest where someone gets a photo shoot for free.
It’s all about enticing new customers to your small company. Whether you offer photography services, graphic design, or marketing solutions—offering a discount makes it less risky for new clients to use your services.
Do you know who your competitors are? Follow them on Twitter and monitor tweets about their services.
Monitoring conversations (social reconnaissance) related to competitors provides the ability to “save the day” with better service or monetary incentives. —FastCompany
Use the direct message tool on Twitter when offering your services to someone dissatisfied with your competitor. What you say and do on the public timeline can also be seen by your competitors.
Promoting events on Twitter is a natural use of the software. You can also organize Tweetups of groups of people to turn online relationships into face to face conversation. Tweetups can be between your followers, clients, or other freelancers who live in your area. It’s a great way to take the networking offline and meet some really great, new people.
Is there a cause that you believe in? Perhaps your business has taken on a nonprofit as a client or you are helping to raise money for someone or something you believe in. Social media is a great tool to help spread the word.
Aligning your brand with a cause for social good is a great marketing and networking tool. I did some freelance marketing for a woman who produced trade shows. This past year we decided to offer special services at the shows (manicures at one and entrance into a live performance of a popular band at another) and donated part of the proceeds to a nonprofit she really believed in. Not only did she raise money, she raised awareness for the nonprofit. She also aligned herself with the nonprofit, which has helped her social credibility.
Think you’re on to something good? Why not ask? Before jumping into any big decision, I always seek advice. Recently I was dissatisfied with my local vet and was thinking about taking my dog elsewhere. I asked people on Facebook and Twitter if they had a vet in my area that they particularly loved—and the responses poured in. No one recommended the vet that I was considering leaving, so that made my decision even easier.
This is a personal example, but asking for advice could help your freelancing, too. Plus, with Twitter, your followers can be as close as next door or as far away as another country. You are apt to get a lot of different ideas from many different people—ideas you may not have thought of on your own. Whether you listen to their advice or not is totally up to you.
Hosted Conversations That Generate Traffic and Referrers
Have you ever been a part of a Twitter presentation? They’re pretty cool. Here’s an example of what one big company did to leverage this:
During the NBA Eastern Conference Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Orlando Magic, Turner Broadcasting integrated Twitter into TNT.com with the help of Gigya Socialize. Visitors could log in to the site with their Twitter ID and respond directly in the hosted timeline. As such, their tweets not only appeared on TNT.com but also in Twitter, attracting more fans into the site. —FastCompany.com
You can do the same thing on your site. Or you can just schedule a Twitter presentation and invite people to join. Pick a topic you know a lot about and present yourself, or find an industry leader to be the keynote speaker for a set amount of time. Allow time for questions at the end of the presentation, and keep it short. Remember, you only have room to type 140 characters at a time.
Twitter can be used to do more than share news between you and your followers. It’s all about how you leverage the tool and finding out what works best for your needs. You may have to try a few different things before you stumble upon something that clicks…but if you don’t try, you’ll never know.