“Social media isn’t working – I post regularly but it’s not bringing me any new clients.”

That’s the most frequent complaint I hear about social media from freelance designers, and other creative professionals, for that matter.

This does not surprise me because most people don’t use social media strategically and therefore it may actually be damaging the perception of the business.

In other words, if you think all it takes to get clients is a tweet here and there, think again.

Just because it’s free…and just because it’s easy…and just because everyone’s doing it doesn’t mean social media works.

And just because everyone’s doing it doesn’t mean you should do it too.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not against social media. Indeed it is effective for my coaching business, which is why I invest a lot of time to generate a steady Twitter feed of relevant content about marketing and pricing for creative professionals, with more of the same on LinkedIn.

That’s how I know that it can only be effective when used strategically and in concert with other marketing tools to reach your ideal clients. (BTW, I show you how to do that in my Simplest Marketing Planner for 2019).

The 3 Most Effective Social Media Strategies

Once your marketing plan is in place, it is much easier to strategically integrate your social media. The first decision to make is which platforms. I recommend dedicating one platform for business only – no personal posts. Which platform depends on who you are trying to connect with. For most professional endeavors, LinkedIn is the place to be since it is essentially a professional database.

Once you’ve chosen your professional platform, here are the 3 strategic ways to use social media to promote your creative services:

1. Use social media for positioning.

Everything on your social media profile should be strategically and carefully chosen to portray a clear message of who you are, who you work with and what you do for them – that is your positioning. This includes the text you use to describe yourself and your business, the images you choose to represent your business and, of course, the content you share, but also who you follow and who follows you.

The desired effect is that when your ideal client lands on your social media profile, it should be clear to them w whether you are a good fit. In other words, your social media profiles should be as “marketing-smart” as your web site.

2. Use social media for connecting.

Social media is perfect for making connections, whether introducing yourself to someone new and staying in touch with others. The more you post, the more your name pops up and the more familiar it becomes. But keep in mind that this is a very superficial type of connection – kind of like short-term memory – it doesn’t last long unless you cultivate it. So if you want to develop stronger bonds, it’s best to take these initial conversations off social media.

3. Use social media for sharing.

This is where content marketing meets social media. But if you don’t have a content marketing plan in place, you’re probably sharing whatever comes along and not so strategically. That may be worse than sharing nothing at all. Remember that what you share (including other people’s content) is a reflection of your positioning.

So if you don’t have your own content to share, make sure the content you share is relevant to your positioning. If you’re not sure, ask yourself: will this make sense in my feed or will it dilute or confuse someone looking at my feed?

Don’t cross pollinate personal and professional use of social media – that will only confuse your clients (or worse). Remember, just because you use social media to stay in touch with your long-lost cousins doesn’t mean the same platforms or posts are good for staying top of mind with your ideal clients too. Be thoughtful, be strategic and be patient.

More resources:

Marketing Mentor’s Simplest Marketing Planner for 2019
Marketing Mentor’s Pick a Niche Kit
Command the Fees You Deserve, my CreativeLive course

Ilise Benun

Ilise Benun

Ilise Benun is the author of 7 books, including The Creative Professional’s Guide to Money, a business mentor and coach, a national speaker, the founder of Marketing-Mentor.com, the host of 2 podcasts (The HOW Design Live podcast & MarketingMentorPodcast.com), a Program Partner for HOW Design Live, and adjunct faculty at Maryland Institute College of Art.
Ilise Benun

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