Lots of editors get hung up on the use of social media to market their businesses …
I suspect it starts to feel like something we ‘should’ all be doing, if only we could unravel the mysteries of how to turn tweets into paying clients!
But before I dive in to how I use social media, a quick disclaimer.
- Firstly, I’m not saying that this is how you should use social media in your business. We’re all different, so what works for one person might not work for another.
- Secondly, I don’t believe you need to use social media marketing at all, if your other marketing methods support you. If you don’t like the idea of using social media, don’t use it!
In Deep Work, Cal Newport suggests our precious time is better spent doing meaningful work and developing our skills than it is being distracted by social media. And if we’re good at what we do, our reputations will attract new clients through word of mouth.
Writer Alexandra Frazen wrote a great post along similar lines: Is it possible to run a business without using social media? Again, she says her reputation brings her repeat clients and word-of-mouth referrals.
If you’re not using social media to market your business, or you feel you’re not using it as well as you should – don’t fret. Concentrate on being an awesome editor. Don’t allow social media to suck you in and distract you from harder work.
Of course, this reputation-based strategy probably works best for people offering repeatable services who need only a handful of well-paying projects to keep them going. If your business model relies on lots of smaller, non-repeatable sales (such as selling places on online courses), then a different marketing method is probably needed – and social media can be a big part of that.
Saying that, we all need to stop putting pressure on ourselves about using social media ‘the right way’ ‘to market our businesses’ and just relax and use it in the way we personally WANT to – which includes chatting to whoever we want to chat to, reading links we find interesting, etc.
When you run a one-person business, you are at the centre of your business. You shouldn’t worry about showcasing your personality. This will only attract the kinds of potential clients and colleagues you’ll enjoy networking with.
How I use social media in my business revolves around three main benefits:
- Spreading the word about the blog posts I write (content marketing)
- Having fun chatting to people (online networking)
- Keeping up with what’s going on in my industry (professional development)
Here’s exactly what I do.
Twitter and Facebook
On Twitter, I’ll link to my own posts (recent and past) once or twice a day, and share a couple of posts from elsewhere that I think people will enjoy or find useful. Often I’ll use Buffer to schedule my tweets so they don’t all come out at once. I’ll tweet personal thoughts and observations as they occur to me, too, so I’m not just posting links all the time, which could get pretty boring pretty fast.
On Facebook, I post once to my business page whenever I publish a new blog post, and that’s it. Facebook Pages are notoriously bad for newsfeed visibility, but I mostly use my main Facebook account to connect with family and friends, and they’re probably not interested in my editorial business blog posts.
Weirdly, Google Analytics tells me that half of my website hits that come from social media originate from Facebook. I’m not quite sure how my Facebook posts do better than Twitter, since I’m connected to about ten times more people on Twitter! I can only guess that Facebook encourages better engagement. Tweets are extremely fleeting.
Groups and forums
I’m also active in several groups on Facebook. I don’t post links to my blogs in these groups (unless I think they would be a useful contribution to a discussion). I just like to hang out and chat. Sometimes I lurk and read what other people are chatting about, and this can be really interesting and illuminating.
My last online hangout is the Society for Editors and Proofreaders’ Forum. I used to be a lot more active there as a newbie – I found it a great place to ask more experienced editors for advice – but I still pop by from time to time to see what’s going on and add my two pennies to the conversations.
LinkedIn and Instagram
I used to use LinkedIn quite a bit, especially when I worked as a copywriter, but since I don’t usually work directly with publishers and most of my clients are authors (or other editors, when it comes to some of my courses), I don’t find LinkedIn particularly useful. It also feels a bit too cold and business-y to me, though I know it works well for some. Again, it depends on your business!
You can also find me on Instagram, but I don’t use it with my editorial business in mind. I mostly use it to document my travels (see: How I Travelled Through Europe Running My Business From a Laptop) and just share nice photos!
UPDATE: I decided to deactivate my Instagram account after doing a 30-day social media detox.
In all, I think the best way to use social media as a marketing tool is to share links to genuinely useful content, make friends and chat and, most of all, not get sucked into the addictive algorithms and end up wasting too much time on it.