Social media — is it getting you gigs? If not, let’s take a look at some possible reasons. Social media takes a pretty substantial time investment, so if you’re putting in the time, it darn well better bring you some real business. Or you should send direct-mail letters instead.
Social media is not rocket science. Once you know the basics, you can do this.
I’ve only had a serious focus on social media for a couple of years, and it’s been delivering solid results all this year. I recently did an analysis of my social-media wins so far in 2010, which included connecting with editors on Twitter and LinkedIn who gave me lucrative assignments and a great guest-post blogging opportunity. Yesterday, another new editor cold-called me after viewing my LinkedIn profile, and I signed a new client who found me on a Google search for writers (in part because of the prominence of my social-media profile pages in search results).
So social media works, if you work it.
Where might you be going wrong in social media? Here are 10 common problems:
- You’re unknowable. When I scan daily through the dozens of email notices I get from new Twitter followers, I’m blown away by how many of them have no listed Web site, no photo, and an utterly blank bio. Really, how hard is it to fill that out?
- You’re uninteresting. You’re tweeting or updating your LinkedIn status to say you’re at the dentist’s, or going to sleep…or other random stuff that’s useful to no one. Your blog posts are dull and full of typos. Make your posts funny, informative, thought-provoking, or uplifting.
- You’re always selling. Every blog entry you write ends with, “So call us today!” Every tweet is about your company, or your clients. Zzzzzz…. Social media is just not about that.
- You’re not very social. Even at well-funded companies, I find blogs with no social-media buttons, and company Web sites with no social contacts on the home page. Make it easy for others to spread the word about you, and they will.
- You’re mysterious. Do your social-media profiles contain every key word a prospect might search on when they want to hire someone like you? If not, stop hiding from clients and go fix that right now. It might seem retarded to you to put “freelance writer, blogger, journalist, and copywriter,” but those are all different search terms a prospect might use to find me.
- You don’t visit. Drop by some of the busiest sites in your industry, and see what they’re writing about. Subscribe to their blogs so you know what’s happening. Now and again, leave a comment on one of their blogs or forums. It’s fairly easy to get known as an authority voice in your industry this way.
- You’re not helpful. People ask questions in social media, both across social-media sites and within specific forums and groups. Are you providing answers? It just takes a minute to share something you know, and people truly appreciate and remember it.
- You’re not questioning. Social media is a fantastic place to learn, especially about all things new-media and Web. Don’t be afraid of looking dumb. If you don’t know how to put images in blogs or which print-on-demand publisher has the lowest fees, ask and find out.
- You’re not a joiner. If you’re not participating in industry-specific groups in social media, you are missing the party. My main hangout is LinkedIn Editors & Writers for building my blog and ebook audience, but I have a half-dozen others as well. There are fewer people in each group than on the whole of LinkedIn, but they’re exactly the people you want to know. I’ve already made some great new friends in groups who I’ve talked to in the 3-D world.
- You’re invisible. A little in-person networking where you meet a few of those tweeps live really helps cement those connections and turn them into real relationships. If you can’t get to a big event like BlogWorld — which I can’t manage this year — at least get out locally and meet some of the people you’ve connected to on social media.
If you enjoyed this handy checklist of social-media mistakes, get the Make a Living Writing blog free via email. Don’t miss any tips for earning more from your writing.
Photo via Flickr user webtreats