This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.
Social media is an extremely powerful marketing tool. It’s a very effective way to show your current and prospective clients who you are. To show them there’s a face and a person behind the business.
But, when done wrong, social media can be disastrous to your freelancing career.
1. Stay away from religious talk
Whether you’re Christian, Hindu, or an atheist, religious talk has no place on your professional social media feed.
Ignoring this first tenet of social media can alienate people, cause tension between yourself and clients, and can ultimately lead to loss of revenue.
There is, however, an exception to this. If you intend to surround yourself with like-minded individuals, or market yourself as part of a religious group, it might be okay to engage in religious talk. For example, if you’re a Baptist writer who aims to work solely for Baptist publications, it’s probably okay to share your beliefs on social media.
2. Steer clear of politics
Just as in the case of religion, it’s usually best to keep the political climate on your social media feed neutral.
It’s possible that over the course of your career, you’ll work with clients who have differing political perspectives from yours. That’s great! The more the merrier, right?
Broadcasting your political beliefs on social media can cause you to miss out on great opportunities with awesome clients. If you must join a political conversation, do your best to keep your comments neutral.
3. Don’t overshare
Social media is a great way to introduce your clients and prospective customers to the “real you.” But that version of you should leave something to the imagination.
Frankly, there are things your clients just don’t need to know about. For instance, they don’t need to know about your kids’ personal information. They don’t need to know about your income. And they don’t need to know about your personal health concerns, unless it directly relates to your freelance business.
4. Keep the income talk to a minimum
It’s tempting to let the world know you’re a successful freelancer. But you can do that without divulging personal income information.
Let’s imagine you’ve just had a pitch accepted by a national publication. It’s okay to say, “Big National Mag just asked me to contribute to their September issue! I’m so excited!”
It’s not, however, okay to say, “Big National Mag is paying me $1,500 to write an article this fall!”
There’s a fine line between sharing your excitement and being unprofessional. Find the line, and don’t cross it.
5. Don’t talk about your clients
A huge mistake many freelancers make is sharing too much about their clients. And while it’s okay to share the general gist of what you’re working on, there are some things you absolutely should never divulge.
• The names of your clients
• How much a client is paying you
• Details about the project you’re working on
• Anything covered in a non-disclosure agreement
Not only is talking about your clients rude, it’s also a good way to lose a contract and get sued.
6. Don’t use hate speech.
You shouldn’t do this anyway. Think twice before you bash someone for their:
• Sexual orientation
• Gender identity
• Skin color
• Anything at all. Bullying, discrimination and hatred are not okay, ever.
7. Don’t bombard followers with ads
Think about businesses that you follow on social media. Now think: why do you follow them?
Maybe it’s a location you’ve never visited that you’d like to learn more about. Maybe the local hardware store offers great DIY tips on social media.
There’s a good chance you don’t follow those businesses for the ads they post.
Your followers feel the same way. It’s okay to advertise every now and then! But bombarding your followers with ads for your freelancing business is a great way to get un-followed, and fast.
8. Don’t air your dirty laundry
Social media is a great way to get things done. Imagine you’re having problems with your hosting provider. The company is more likely to respond to your complaints if you threaten to “take it to Facebook.”
However, don’t use social media as a way to vent every frustration with every company on the planet. Your followers will notice, and they’ll begin to view you as negative and unprofessional.
Instead, just make a phone call or send an email. Then, depending on the result, post to social media that you’re “thrilled with the way @XYZCompany handled" your complaint.
9. Do respond quickly to customers
Recent studies have shown that a majority of people who contact a business on social media expect a response within 24 hours. A good percentage of those people expect a response within 30 minutes.
You’ve got your own business to handle. Responding within a half hour isn’t always an option. But strive to reply to customers within a day or so, for two reasons. First, that’s just great customer service. Secondly, your response will prevent the situation from escalating into a complaint.
10. Do be social
Social media is social. It’s what it was made for.
Your social media feed shouldn’t just include posts about business-related topics. It’s great to create and curate content which relates to your industry. But it’s also okay to join the conversation!
Again, your customers want to see the human side of your business. And while oversharing is a bad idea, it’s perfectly okay to talk about that show you’re streaming on Netflix, or the princess’s cute new baby.
Social media has an important purpose: to break down the barriers between you and your customers. Use common sense, and don’t instigate trouble. Don’t take the bait from those who wish to see you respond negatively.
Keep social media professional, yet social. You’ll love what the platforms can do for your business and your brand.
Shana Thompson is a freelance writer and social media manager from North Carolina. You can visit her at www.shanathompson.com.