This post is part of the Ask a Designer series. You ask me questions, I answer them to the best of my ability. The questions can be about design process, branding, software, technical things – or even completely unrelated. Want to play? Leave me a comment here, or use the contact form.
What is the best way to get clients via social media (Twitter/Facebook)?
I am not a social media expert. Far from it. I don’t have a fail-proof method that will work for everyone.
Still, I am happy to share what worked for me.
Just a year ago, I was staring blankly at the Twitter feed going by, desperately trying to make some sense out of it. I had no idea what I was supposed to do with it – let alone how to use it to actually find clients.
I tried following the usual advice – looking for design related keywords, answering questions, offering my services. I was mostly ignored, since nobody had ever heard from me. If you think about it, it’s quite logical: why would you respond to a stranger’s blatant self promotional tweet. It didn’t feel right, either, so I pretty much gave up.
Until much later.
Twitter had finally clicked for me after I accidentally stumbled upon Havi Brooks and her Twitter demistified and debunked post. The very fact that she followed me back and RTed one of my awkward first attempts at tweeting encouraged me to stick around.That was the very beginning of my Twitter community. Of course this community didn’t have any clients in it at that point. Nevertheless, it was a beginning.
The whole finding clients bit fell into place later still.
For me, it was, again, an act of accidental stumbling that taught me this:
Social media is simply a vehicle.
Have something worth sharing, and people will share. On Twitter, on Facebook, wherever. There is no reason to try to be everywhere – that takes up way too much time. (Yes, I know this from experience. And I mostly stick to the one I feel comfortable with, which is Twitter.)
Just like word-of-mouth referrals are the most convincing form of promotion, so are social media referrals most effective when it isn’t you singing your own praises – but someone else.
I know it sounds simple.
But it isn’t, of course. You have to get people to notice you, and you have to keep showing up. The last part is easy enough. The noticing bit is what may require some creative thinking.
In my case, the trickle of clients that found me through social media had turned into a flood after I had created a very specific, targeted offer: ebook design – as opposed to “all kinds of design and layout.” (this seems to be an issue for so many designers – we are scared to limit our offerings, when the effect thss usually creates is the exact opposite of what you would expect – sending more clients your way not just for that specific offer, in my case ebook design, but for all kinds of services, because they want it to look as good as my ebook design.)
More specifically, after I had offered a free design to my list subscribers as part of my customerlove challenge. The time investment was not insignificant. 6 people took me up on the offer. I treated each project as I would a paid one.
The result wasn’t just six people that liked my designs, but six fans. Six people who wanted to tell everyone they knew and show off their shiny new ebooks.
But that’s only the beginning.
Those six people each told a number of people they knew.
Some of those people took advantage of my special offer. Others participated in my contest. The word spread.
Before I knew it, my name was coming up in all kinds of conversations – on social media and otherwise. Without me even being present.
I’d say that the initial time investment paid off well. (if you think about it, to achieve this kind of a result, big companies spend thousands on advertising.)
I use social media for connecting, keeping conversations going. You have to keep showing up, of course. But due to this experience, I am convinced that dedicating a bigger portion of the time CREATING something worth mentioning, sharing and ooh-ing over – and then simply throwing it out there works much better than any kind of a “social media strategy.”
What you create is up to you of course. But it should be something that gives you joy. It shouldn’t feel like work. It should energize you, not drain you. This is how it felt for me. And that is why I was able to keep it up. And I am certain that, somehow, it shows. And that is why it was shared, over and over, and that is why I made fans.
Again, I am not saying this will work for everyone. Or that it won’t. I have no studies or statistics to back it up. But it’s the only thing I know of that worked for me, and that makes me think that it can be adapted to work for others.
And if there is something that gives you as much joy as laying out beautiful ebooks gives me, it’s worth a try, isn’t it?