One of the best ways for freelance graphic designers and web developers to gain exposure online is with social media. Twitter is an especially successful avenue simply because it is such a common platform. Freelancers, big and small businesses, non-profit organizations, retailers, individuals – Twitter is full of world-wide activity, across every industry.
According to a January 2014 Twitter study done by Statistics Brain, Twitter has 645,750,000 ACTIVE users, with 135,000 signing up every day. And even 40% of Twitter users who don’t send out tweets themselves still watch other’s tweets.
In fact, if you swing it right, Twitter can become your biggest and best method for getting the word out about yourself. You just have to know some tried and true practices for getting the most out of this very popular social media platform. So take a look at the methods mentioned below and start incorporating them into your social media marketing right away for improving your visibility.
Form the Right Tweets
Make sure that your actual tweets are worded correctly. First of all, never begin the tweet with an @username as this limits the visibility of the tweet to you and the tagged individual. To avoid this, place a greeting in front, such as “Hey there, @username!” Or use the common “Article Name via @username” when tweeting content that you need to attribute.
Also, never include more than three hashtags as this will annoy your followers and look spammy, which then results in much fewer shares. Remember that the purpose of hashtags is to make your tweets visible to those searching for specific content. So rather than stuffing with too many hashtags, do your research and choose a couple of the ones more commonly used in your niche. One easy way to do this is to simply start typing hashtags in the search bar to see what comes up. For instance, if you type #programming, you will see what kind of tweets other have tagged using this hashtag. You can also see other hashtags that others have used along with #programming, such as #languages.
Use In-Twitter Preview
Remember, tweets that include a picture or video create 3 to 4 times the engagement of a regular tweet. So don’t skip a multi-media tweet when relevant to your followers. When sharing an image or video, make sure that you do it right. Make sure to use pic.twitter.com for images and Vine or youtu.be for videos so that your multimedia shows up in the Twitter feed without the need for followers to expand to see it. Also, don’t forget to include at least some text and especially hashtags, since this also helps in searches.
Using pic.twitter.com is easy; simply click on the Compose new Tweet box and click the camera button below the text box. For iPhone users, download the Vine app to create short video snippets you can upload directly to Twitter. Or upload videos to YouTube and use the Tweet button found below the video window. For an in-depth explanation on how to use youtu.be for uploading videos, check out this video tutorial from Authority Marketing Films: How to Upload iPhone Videos and Share.
Interact and Promote Others
Promoting yourself is fine, but make sure that you help your fellow tweeters out. Building a strong network requires interaction with other Twitter users. So, retweet when you see something interesting or that you know your followers will enjoy. Provide relevant comments and helpful replies. Make sure to tag others in your tweets when relevant. If you publish material on a blog and tweet the post, be sure to include the blog’s Twitter name.
The easiest way to make sure you are keeping up with your followers is by clicking on “Interactions” in the top left menu on Twitter. From this view, you can see all of the activity surrounding your account. You can also simply browse through some of your favorite followers’ pages to find a tweet to retweet. A little bit of sharing goes a long way in others being willing to share your tweets with their followers. And you never know when one of those retweets could be from a Twitter account with thousands of followers.
Tweets Should Provide Interest
Pay attention to what your followers or target audience needs or wants. Provide inspiration, tutorials, resources, advice, and even share a bit of your work. Mostly, though, make the majority of your tweets about information that provides value to your followers. The more helpful your tweets are, the more you will be seen as an expert in your field.
Use Twitter for Contests
An excellent way to gain more followers or to build up your email list is to host contests. As a freelancer, giveaways of your designs (especially resources such as icons or templates) is probably your best avenue to take for a contest. One way to get your Twitter account involved is to require entrants to tweet about it as a way to enter the giveaway.
Make sure to include a Tweet button with your giveaway message, your Twitter @username, and whatever hashtags you want included. And make sure that the tweet includes the link to your page on which others can easily enter the contest as well. If you also want to gather email addresses, simply create a form on your giveaway page on which entrants have to include their name and email address in addition to the tweet.
Network the Old-Fashioned Way
Networking in the “olden days” required people to do some serious work. They had to research, make phone calls, go to events, shake hands, hand out business cards, and do follow up calls. Networking in the past was always very time intensive.
Today, social media has made these more tolling efforts not quite so necessary. However, to really gain the most out of networking through Twitter, you will still have to roll up your sleeves, so to speak, and start watching who the influencers are in your niche. Look for those who have mega followers and start providing relevant discussions on their tweets to build relationships. As mentioned above, you may start to get noticed if you are helpful enough, and they may eventually share some of your content – with their hundreds of thousands of followers.
Connect Twitter to Other Profiles
Not only should you make sure your other social media accounts are connected to Twitter but you should also mention your Twitter ID in the About sections. Pinterest allows you to connect via Twitter, but followers may miss this bit of information. This is why it is important to include it in your About details. Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, and any communities or blogs you are a part of should shout out your Twitter account. Don’t forget about your About page on your own website too.
Place Buttons on Blog
No matter if you have a blog, website, portfolio, or one of each – make sure to include a Twitter button in an easy to see location. Some choose to include the Twitter Follow button in the header, while others place it in a side navigation bar. You may want to experiment with different locations and see which one gets the most action. Also, don’t forget to include a Tweet button on individual posts. Again, test out placing the Tweet button at the top of the post and at the bottom to see what works best.
Set up Twitter Cards
Last year, Twitter introduced Cards that allow you to include a bit more than just a regular 140 character tweet does. These Twitter Cards come in different styles, but all have some kind of button that replaces the normal “Expand” link, such as “View Photo” or “View summary.” You have probably noticed them by now, but have you given them a try? They are an excellent way to get important posts noticed, but they do require a little bit of work.
First you have to choose the card style you want, then add the meta tags to your page, then ask Twitter to validate your card. Once you are approved, you can then tweet your card. Keep in mind, too that it can take a while for Twitter to approve a card. While Twitter has all of the markup tags you need for a card, you may want to take a look at Brad Knutson’s article on using Twitter Cards to increase visibility. He offers some excellent advice and walks you through step-by-step, including how to shortcut this process in WordPress.
The more you tweet, the more likely you are to be seen. The beautiful and also really annoying thing about Twitter is that you can tweet several times a day and still not be seen by all of your followers. Why? Well, for one thing, 58 million tweets go out a day, according to the study by Statistics Brain mentioned above, which means that 9,100 tweets go out every second. While Twitter filters these based on your niche and followers, every individual will have way too many tweets come through their feed a day to see them all.
Also, if you have followers across the globe, then some may be sleeping when you post your 10AM tweet. So you would do well scheduling the same tweet to go out 2 or 3 times a day. Or, if you are afraid of annoying those followers who seem to be on Twitter 24 hours, then set up a schedule on which you rotate through the same tweets but post each at different times. Using an auto-tweet tool, such as Hootsuite, will help greatly in keeping your scheduled posts organized.
Use Twitter Analytics
If you really want to become the Twitter visibility expert, then take advantage of Twitter Analytics. Just make sure you are logged on to Twitter, go to Twitter’s analytics page, and you can see how much activity your recent tweets have gained. Filter your list by Best to see what type of tweets are the most popular with your followers. If you see that you seem to be influencing followers who are not really in your target market, then you know you need to adjust your tweets and do some networking to gain followers in your niche. You can also use the Followers or Twitter Cards views to see more specific analytics on each of these areas.
The great part about Twitter is that you can barely use it and see some results. However, to be a rock star on Twitter, you will have to set aside time to really learn your followers, create new connections, and build up your visibility. Remember, too, that the more activity and connections you create via social media, the easier you are to find on search engines. So make Twitter a scheduled part of your day, and you will eventually start to see your name become much more noticed within your freelancing niche.