Popular (but bad) Social Networking Advice You Should Ignore

By . Filed in Web 2.0

Freelancers swear by social networking. They’ll be the first to tell you how their freelance business has benefitted from it, that it has helped them build trust, relationships and spread the word about their work.



(Image Source: vervex)

Freelancers use social media for two purposes: to socialize with their peers and to market their business, blog or product. As is the case with every niche, there’s a ton of advice out there for freelancers looking to use social media for networking. Run a generic Google search and you’ll see the same things repeated on every blog, article and ebook.

Just as there are popular blogging and freelancing advice that doesn’t always work, there’s also popular social networking advice that is sound in theory but doesn’t always work. Now I’m not saying that the advice is downright unusable; in the right circumstances, the advice is worth gold.

The only problem is not everyone will find themselves in the same sets of circumstances. So if you’re following the popular social networking advice stated below and wondering why it isn’t working, it could be because that advice doesn’t suit your set of circumstances.

Automate your updates

A lot of social media power users support automating a part of your social network updates so that it seems like you’re around and active all the time. It’s handy for those who don’t have any time to spend on your favoured social network. Let’s run a little test. Open up Twitter and take a few seconds to go through your stream. You’ll likely see automated updates from blogs, quotes and plenty of links being shared by people via buffer and related services.

The trouble with automation is that after a while, it starts to feel mechanical. Let’s say you haven’t found the time to spend on social networks all week. If folks go through your stream, they’ll see you sharing links from your blog, quotes and marketing tweets about your own products. They won’t see you interacting with your followers – and that’s the biggest issue with automating updates

How to make it work for you

There’s no doubt that automating updates does take care of a big part of our social networking. But too much of it can backfire. Instead of coming off sounding like a bot, automate a small part of your updates. If you blog regularly, use plugins like Tweet Old Post and set up a 4-8 hours of intervals between post updates. If you’re really busy, schedule some of your updates. Use a web app like Hootsuite or Buffer. If you’re sharing a link, add your own commentary to it.

Hootsuite

If you know you won’t be around for a few hours, schedule a tweet letting your followers know. Everyone knows you can’t be there all the time. Your followers give you allowance for that and will like you more if you’re upfront about not being there instead of automating updates and trying to fool folks into thinking you’re there all the time.

Be active Everywhere

Every time a new social network crops up, everyone signs up and starts spending tons of time on it to make the most of the new medium. After all, that’s what popular advice recommends, "You gotta be active on social media!" By all means, be active but take this advice with a pinch of salt. You’re spreading yourself thin by being active on every social network out there.

As a freelancer, you’re strapped for time. If you keep alternating between the different social networks out there, you won’t be able to use any of them effectively. Being active on social media doesn’t mean you have to be active on every social network out there.

How to make it work for you

By all means have a presence on every social network that’s out there. Claim your account and custom URL. Then, only concentrate on the ones that are most relevant to your marketing. Do an inventory of your freelance business marketing and choose 3 social networks you’ll have the most success with.



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For me, it’s Twitter, LinkedIn and G+. On a side note, these days I’m experimenting with Pinterest. It’s always good to experiment with new networks that come up. Play with all your favorite social network sites for a bit every weekend or after working hours. Figure out whether they’ll be able to help your business, before jumping in and investing time you don’t have into it.

Share, share and share!

Your presence on a social network isn’t worth much if you’re not sharing content with your followers. But, often times, freelancers make the mistake of sharing everything they come across or read, that is related to their topic of ‘personal’ interest.



(Image Source: Fotolia)

If your profile is about your freelance business and you’re regularly sharing stuff about bird watching – you’re confusing your audience and giving them the wrong impression. Before long, they won’t consider you an authentic source of information and will either unfollow you or ignore you.

How to make it work for you

Share content that is relevant to your industry or target audience. If you’re a freelancer and your target market is fellow freelancers and prospective clients, then share content that relates to them.

Better yet, add your thoughts to the content you share. Let them know you have an opinion. The content you share can make you a go to source for information about your freelance speciality and establish you as an expert.

Send out n updates daily

When I first started using social networks to market my business, I was stumped by how often I should send out updates. The general consensus seems to be to update less on Facebook and G+ (5-7 times a day) and more on Twitter (15-20 times) throughout the day. So I followed that pattern, then saw my efforts tank. In order to follow that advice, I spaced out my updates and ended up losing track of conversations and disrupting my work schedule.

The advice on posting a specific number of updates is sound – except when it’s not. Confused? I was too.

How to make it work for you

The only way to find out how many times you should update your status is by using the social network in question. When my updates were being ignored, I disregarded the advice on how many times I should be sending updates and instead concentrated on having conversations. Sometimes that resulted in a 100 tweets per day, some days only 5. Sometimes, a single post on Facebook would generate enough conversation with no need of additional updates.

It really depends on the conversation and the time you have available for it to work.

Reflection

The good thing about social media and social networking is that nothing is set in stone. What works for you might not work for another. Only you can tell what works for you and what feels right. Have you followed any particular social networking advice that didn’t work for you?

Author:

Samar is a freelance writer, blogger and social media enthusiast. She offers rock-solid tips for freelance writing success on her blog The Writing Base or SamarOwais.com and can be found on Twitter talking about writing, freelancing, productivity (or lack thereof) and travelling at odd hours of the day.

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