Social media has become the fastest growing communication medium in our history. It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million listeners, Television 13 years, the Internet just 4 years and Twitter has added 50 million users in the last six months. For everyone involved, Twitter is becoming a preferred way to create meaningful relationships and stay connected. Still, no one simply signs up for Twitter and immediately knows how it works and what to do. No matter how complex a new site or service is, if you take the time to learn what it has to offer, you will see it’s value. I believe that Twitter is one of the biggest values in social media marketing, especially for freelancers. Social media and especially Twitter has completely changed the way I interact with my peers and clients. I’m able to create a direct connection to the clients I want to work with and them with me from anywhere and anytime. For me, Twitter has really replaced Facebook as my main community “hub”, clicking links when people share their blog posts and sharing links to my own work. Before Twitter and other forms of social media, we were limited by phone, snail mail and email to drum up new business and drive growth. Those forms of communication also cost money and cut into the bottom line. Where the cost of sending a message to your followers on Twitter is free and takes less then a minute of your time. Twitter has opened the channel of communication so that anyone can interact and build instant connections. The playing field has leveled out and you can have just as much of a voice as the big agency or design firm down the street. Getting that voice heard is what will benefit your business and as a freelancer your business is you.
Once you have joined the conversation it’s finding people to follow. Don’t just start adding a ton of random people, instead start more slowly and look for quality, not quantity. Choose to follow those whose content matters to you and who you think would benefit from yours. I personally find the discovery tools on Sprout Social to be very useful for finding new people or companies to follow. It uses a combinations of keyword searches and general recommendations to match people you may find useful. There are a ton of other great tools online to help you find useful users as well like Twitter lists or Mr. Tweet. Now that you have people you are following and some that are following back, your next step is to begin to turn those initial connections into fruitful relationships and meaningful connections. How? You need to show that there is a ‘real’ person behind that Twitter account…not simply the name of a company or corporation. Engage with people, ask questions, make comments, share links and actively interact so others see that you are interested and care about what they care about. Don’t just use this tool to promote yourself and boost your ego, remember it shouldn’t be a one sided conversation. A simple and fast way to add value to your followers and interact with new people is to re-tweet. If you see a tweet that is particularly helpful or provides a link to cool info or work that you think others would appreciate, use the re-tweet function built into Twitter and pass it on to your followers. Be selective with your re-tweets, simply re-tweeting everything will quickly become noise and could create a black mark on your Twitter reputation. Forming relationships and connections on Twitter takes time, just as it does in the ‘real’ world. With large number of new users joining Twitter every day it’s likely some of them are going to find what you have to say beneficial. Be yourself and do your best to add value to your community and your business may grow in the process.