Latest Social Media Research Findings: How They Affect Freelancers

All freelancers come to a point in their career where they have to promote their business or else slowly become non-existent.

It’s a potential problem though, when we come to this point and do not have enough capital base to spend on costly marketing campaigns. This is why social media is such a valuable tool for freelancers, it’s effective and affordable.

Social media statistics of 2012 point to this theory – that social media is a major promotional avenue for many companies within many industries, and I would add especially for freelancers. The following are just a few of the most important social media facts that I noted, including guidelines on how you can take advantage of them.

Content Marketing is a Focus

As with past years, 9 out of 10 marketers across industries plan on incorporating content marketing into their 2013 marketing plan. In fact, according to the 2013 study done by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, social media is the top content marketing tactic.

As freelancers, we have an advantage over larger companies in that we can offer a more personal connection with our network of clients and prospects. However, we also have a disadvantage with a limited amount of time. To make sure we keep our connections strong, we should utilize social media marketing tools and have a plan:

  • Use HootSuite to set up a posting schedule for different social media accounts.
  • Use Tweepi (it’s my favorite and free!) for bulk following back and unfollowing.
  • Set aside a half hour every day, or at the least one day a week, to thank users for retweets, reposts, etc. and respond to any direct messages.
  • Create a social media blog, or at least post blog content from your website or third party sites.
  • See what freelancers should tweet about from David Masters.

Social Media is THE Way to Connect with Clients

Clients and customers are no longer calling companies to complain – they contact via social media, according to Nate Goodman in his article on CEOs and social media. Most often use social media as an initial form of contact for work inquiry. And companies are using social media as a primary form of gathering data on their customers. In fact, many CEOs predict social media to be second in line to sales reps as a form of directly engaging customers.

As freelancers, keeping an open form of communication is especially important. However, to make the most of your limited time, knowing which social media platform your customers use the most is a valuable piece of information. You’ll know which platform to spend the most time on, and even how to use each one:

  • Ask your clients via a survey or each social media account you have which one they use the most.
  • Search via hashtags related to your line of work to see how much activity surrounds the topic on each social media site.
  • Test different engagement activities – such as contests, questions, blog posts, videos, or images – to see which platforms to use for which type of engagement.
  • LinkedIn is great for finding jobs using certain features.
  • Facebook is excellent for “dating” type of engagement.

Specific Social Media for Certain Ages

According to a report on Pingdom.com, age groups seem to hang out more or less on different social media sites. This could be helpful for those of freelancers who have a specific target market age. These social media user statistics can also help in knowing what tone to take for each social media blog:

  • The majority of users on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn (no data was included for Google+) are 35 years of age or older.
  • The average Facebook user is 40.5 years of age, LinkedIn average age is 44.2, and Twitter’s average age is 37.3.
  • Hacker News, DeviantArt, Reddit, Orkut, and Github users are mostly under the age of 35.

These social media user statistics show why on the top social media sites that bad grammar and overuse of internet slang decreases the shares, retweets, and repins a post gets. We freelancers are judged very harshly by our tone in social media, so keeping posts friendly yet professional is always a good motto to follow.

YouTube is More Important than You May Think

You may have already heard that YouTube is the third most visited site online. What you may not yet know, however, is that 1.5 million daily searches are business related, and 75% of business executives watch videos weekly related to their line of work. These staggering statistics from Chris Wilson, Earnest, shows just how important it is for any business to get some kind of video content started on YouTube. Freelancers can especially benefit, since businesses often search for knowledge via tutorials on YouTube.

  • Post how-to videos, tutorials, humorous and clever ads, and more to engage connections.
  • Put your YouTube videos on your social media blogs and your website.
  • Always put your website and freelance company name in the video content, at the end or beginning.
  • Tie your YouTube account back to your website and social media, and always put a brief blurb about the video as well as your company (using keywords, of course) in the description.

Social Media Promotion in 2013

Social media is a valuable marketing tool for freelancers, especially in light of some of the latest social media statistics from 2012. As a freelancer myself, I’d go so far to say that we cannot afford to skip this marketing method in 2013.

For building a network, connecting with clients, and gaining new freelance gigs, social media is hands down the best and fastest way to promote your business without a cost that eats into your profits. Now get out there and start promoting yourself!

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