Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Social Marketing for Writers

OK, so I came out against Twitter when it was first getting big...but since then I started thinking about social networking's value to my business and questioning whether the time put in might bring a lot to my business later.

In that previous post, I made a few points that still made sense to me. Notedly, I said that social networking was a waste of time because the most lucrative clients don't go looking for writers on social networking sites. That may be true, but in today's market climate I also believe that if you don't have a social networking presence, you show yourself to be behind the times. Even if you don't actually find clients on social networking sites, you need to demonstrate your familiarity with them.

But beyond that, I'm a web writer. If I'm not using all aspects of the web to get ahead, clearly I'm not learning about all the cutting-edge methods for helping my clients succeed. For the past few months, I've been making an effort to expand my social networking presence. I haven't landed a huge ROI from that area yet--but I can say I definitely have gained quite a bit from this blog, including a few lucrative long-term clients. Especially in a recession, it's worth exploring every way out there of reaching out to clients.

So here's what I've learned so far.

Twitter is your friend.I'm a new Twitter user, but so far I've connected with a few prospects. I'm treating each Twitter blast like a small advertisement for my business. I post links to my blog posts. I write about the types of projects I'm doing. And I follow people I'd like as clients--marketers, graphic designers/web designers, and other businesses. I'm confident that if I keep up with it, it will land me some business eventually. And as I learn to use it, it will be just one more layer of expertise to fofer my clients.

Get a professional Facebook profile. I have a personal Facebook profile and a professional page. When I first opened my facebook account, I envisioned it being professional--but with all my friends on Facebook it quickly became personal. So I decided to open a page for Catalyst Writing Services. Facebook won't allow businesses to open their own accounts, however, and clients will still try to "friend" me on my personal page. I don't have anything on my personal profile that I feel like I have to hide from them, but I'm also aware that if I want to build a personal brand, regular status updates of whatever obscure song lyric I happen to be listening to, snippets of poetry and the funny inside joke my friends and I have been laughing at lately are not what they need to see. Because of this, I'm also considering opening a NEW facebook account under my name, but geared entirely toward my business and using the photo I usually use for professional purposes.

Promote your social networking efforts on your blog. So far, I'm starting to think that social networking strategy involves synergy: you have to have a lot of irons in the fire, and they have to speak to each other. Connect to your other social networking initiatives on your blog and write about your experiences. Link to recent blog posts on Twitter and on your Facebook status updates. Each social networking area is an opportunity to connect with clients.


Susan Johnston Taylor said...

"I'm treating each Twitter blast like a small advertisement for my business."

Don't forget that social media is also about engaging with a community. So RTing other people's links (especially if they relate to your niche) and participating in conversations (especially if they ask about your area of expertise) indirectly help you promote your business, too, because they make people want to keep following you.

Jennifer Williamson said...

Great suggestion, Susan!

Kimberly Ben said...

I agree completely with this post. I'm working on a page for my business on Facebook as well. I currently utilize Twitter, LinkedIn and have a personal Facebook page. I think social media can really help writers build relationships with others and even gain a few clients. It's worked for me.

Jenny said...

I've heard people say the ROI is hard to measure, but I'm not convinced it is. I just had a former client email me with a project after seeing me mention doing similar things on my Facebook business page...she didn't realize I offered it as one of my services. I think just landing a few clients could make it worth your time, and I'm not sure it takes a lot of time to be successful at social marketing--just work it in with your other regular marketing tasks and be consistent.

Rebecca Laffar-Smith said...

My biggest challenge with Social Media Marketing is balancing the time it takes alongside everything else that needs to get done. The expanse of what we could be doing is vast.

From commenting on other blogs, Twitter, Plurk, Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Digg, and on and on. There are so many irons to keep in the fire that it can be difficult to know what to work on now.

Still, I've found they all serve purpose to some degree and while it is difficult to measure ROI (because how many of us are tracking exactly how long we spend writing 140 chars here and 140 chars there?) there are definite returns.

Plus, sometimes businesses ARE looking to Twitter when they need a job done. That's why it can be very useful to search Twitter for instances of your own keywords and follow up with those who are asking.