Words by Jamie McDermott, freelance social media consultant
Whether you’re marketing yourself, a business or a brand, social media works in exactly the same way and similar tactics can be adopted to reap the rewards that so many successful online marketers have claimed over recent years.
The truth is that there is little difference between the marketing channels and techniques that can be used by a big brand, a medium sized business or a professional working independently, because they’re all offering some form of service, solution or product, it’s just the size, cost or number of team members involved that differs.
But I don’t want to promote myself, I’m so bad at it!
This is another common issue that people face, heck I even face it as a freelancer. We all know how easy it is to give advice to a friend or colleague, and how simple it would be to market another product, but that’s because you become the end-user in that situation. So, there’s the answer, put yourself in the shoes of YOUR end-user and then you’ll be in a much better place to market yourself.
Understanding Your Brand – What is your unique selling point?
It doesn’t matter what we do we all manage to make this an impossible task – “but I don’t know how to put what I do into words?”. But it’s an essential part to understanding how to market yourself online or face-to-face with a potential client.
There’s a simple trick to this: Get a pad of paper and a pen, then list in bullet points all that you offer. This could be ‘executive business coaching’ or ‘online communications training and support for SMEs’. Ensure you list everything that you can think of, and then go back and refine this list until it is a comprehensive list of your services and expertise.
You now need to look at this list and think about how you solve an issue for the end user with that service or skill. As the end user how might I benefit from your HR expertise in the restructuring of a team? Who, as the end user might I be and how might I express my need for external professional help?
When you’ve come up with a few end-user examples for each bullet point you made you’ll have a much better picture of how you can solve an existing problem.
With this information you can now structure updates for your social channels that speak directly to the end-users and present a solution for their issue(s). You can also use this information to craft search terms and queries with which to find people looking for help by knowing what they might be asking for on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Understanding what is a result, and what isn’t
It’s easy to fall into the trap of expecting results from your first few Tweets, or by updating your LinkedIn profile, but that’s unlikely to happen. Sure, it can and has happened before, but unless you have the right audience in front of you and unless you use the right messages you’re not going to get great results over night. It will take time.
However, by following the steps listed above you’ll be in a much better position to reap the results you deserve.
Think about social media as a cocktail party that you don’t want to get too drunk at. You want to have fun – what would be the point in limiting yourself to just one espresso martini? – and you want to chat with likeminded individuals who share the same interests as you, but you also want to mingle, meeting new people, discussing new topics and listening carefully for those moments where you can add value to the conversation.
It’s the listening carefully part and the mingling that will get you to the conversations that you should be involved in. And this goes back to my previous two points about searching for the conversations that matter to you, which could be your end-user expressing their need for help, and constructing updates that your end-users might want to read, which could be a solution to their problem.
If you invest your time wisely, incorporating well structured updates, engaging with interesting conversations, sharing engaging content and presenting yourself as a real thought leader online you’ll gain tangible results, such as new contacts, new clients and a bigger, more connected network.
Scaling up and building your brand
Once you have the basics in place and you’re looking in the right areas then you’ll be able to scale up your networking without wasting your time and effort, but gaining new clients and network of likeminded professionals.
Always revert back to your value proposition (the bullet pointed list) and think about how this might have changed or how you could better describe the areas in which you offer value. This should in-turn change the way your end-users might see you as offering value to their businesses, so make a note of this tool.
Using social media channels is easy, it’s knowing what to say and how to reach the people you want to hear you that is the hard part. But as mentioned above, there are some simple to follow strategies that should get you well on your way.