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To keep your Twitter account active and your followers engaged, you need to send out several tweets a day. A mere 140 characters sounds easy enough to write. That is, until you have to do it daily, over and over again.
In this article, I'll provide a framework for what freelancers should Tweet about, and ask thought-provoking questions to help you create your own freelancer Twitter editorial.
I'm not providing a "one Tweeter strategy fits all freelancers" solution for one simple reason: There's no right answer for choosing what to Tweet about. Every freelance business is different, and it's a matter of what works for you, your business and, most importantly, your clients.
How to #Fail on Twitter
While there's no simple answer for what to Tweet about, there's a very easy answer for what to avoid tweeting about.
Twitter is not an advertising platform. It’s a social network, meaning that it’s about conversation and sharing.
Stomp out from your mind any idea you have of Twitter as an advertising broadcaster.
Twitter is not an advertising platform. It's a social network, meaning that it's about conversation and sharing.
I'm not saying to get away from using Twitter to promote your services. That's exactly why you should be on Twitter. Rather, don't use Twitter to shout about yourself and what you do. The equivalent in real life would be turning up to a networking event or cocktail party with a megaphone, and shouting "Please hire me!" or "Check out my business card!" or "Visit my website now!". You'd certainly be ignored, and you'd probably get thrown out.
Just like a skilled conversationalist, talk more about others than yourself. A good ratio to keep in mind is that for every ten updates you post, nine should be about your audience, and one about you.
Use Twitter as a place to meet new people, and take an interest in them. A few of them may become your clients. Most of them won't. That's the way it works.
What Are Your Twitter Aims?
Before you decide what you will Tweet about, you need to figure out why you are on Twitter. I'll assume your reasons for being on Twitter are one - or all - of the following. As a freelancer, you're on Twitter to:
- Discover and connect with potential clients.
- Develop professional friendships with potential clients.
- Boost brand recognition of your personal brand or freelance business.
- Demonstrate your expertise and build a name for yourself.
- Show you're trustworthy and reliable.
- Share your passions and what matters to you.
- Get hired.
All of these are great reasons to use Twitter, and all of them provide a firm foundation for deciding what to Tweet about. Do Twitter right, and you'll build a name for yourself in your niche. Twitter is your opportunity to show you know what you're talking about, and so be taken seriously by clients.
Tweet about the right things, and you're more likely to be followed, retweeted and hired.
Know Your Ideal Clients
As well as knowing why you're tweeting, you also need to know who you're tweeting to. That means deciding your freelance niche, and who your ideal clients are, if you haven't done so already.
When you know this, you can target your tweets to the people you'd like to hire you. That makes it much easier to decide what to Tweet about.
Don't panic if you're still working out who your ideal clients are. In my freelance career, I've only discovered who my ideal clients are through experience. Working on a range of different projects, I realized the types of work I enjoy, and the types I'd rather avoid. If this sounds like you, you can base your Tweets on your passions and interests. Doing this, you have a good chance of attracting people who will be a good fit for your services.
When you're using Twitter for marketing, your aim is to make your Tweets about your target audience, rather than about yourself. To do this, you must answer questions like:
- What are their needs?
- What questions do they have?
- What would they like to know how to do?
- What are their problems and pain-points (especially those you can help them to solve)?
Once you know the answer to these questions, you'll have a good idea of what you should be tweeting about.
Your Twitter Arsenal
Now that you've decided why you're tweeting, and who you're tweeting to, you can start stockpiling for your Twitter arsenal. You can use all the following types of tweets to build up your Tweet store.
Links to articles. Linking to helpful articles is the mainstay of most professional Twitter users. That's for two reasons. First, it's easy. Chances are, you read widely in your niche already, and sharing the best articles you read and videos you watch just takes a simple click. Second, it works. Linking to top-notch content in your niche shows you're knowledgeable and widely read. It also helps your clients.
When linking to articles, videos or photos, take a few seconds to rewrite the headline, to make it more appealing to your followers, and show them why the link is relevant.
Quotes. Reputations have been established from quote-based Twitter accounts, tinybuddha being the classic example. Nowadays, quote-based Twitter accounts are widespread, and many of them get ignored. That said, it's a good idea to share relevant quotes now and again. Quote tweets can go viral - just don't overuse them.
Quotes work well if your niche involves helping people get inspired or motivated, such as fitness or self development. Quotes also work well for hobby-based niches such as food or gardening.
- News and opinions. Sharing news stories in your niche shows you keep yourself updated on current trends and industry changes. It's also your chance to give your opinion on the stories you share. Sharing what you think is a way of showing potential clients that you have sound judgment.
- What you're up to. Letting people know what you're working on day-to-day is not self-promotional - it's sensible. You want your followers to get to know you, and that means giving them a window into your life.
Questions. Twitter is a hub of discussion and debate, so ask your followers for their ideas and opinions. Don't be afraid to ask for help either. People love to give a helping hand and share what they know.
No one expects you to be a superhero who knows everything - they just want you to be good at your job. Asking questions shows that you're willing to learn, and demonstrates that you're always improving.
- Promotions and special offers. The one exception to avoiding self-promotional tweets is when you have a promotion or special offer. More than one in four (28%) of active Tweeters use Twitter to look for deals, so make sure they have something to find amid your tweets.
Learning to Tweet effectively is a bit like learning a new language. You get along best if you hang out with native speakers who already know what they're doing.
You’ll notice that the top Twitter users are personable and positive.
Search out freelancers in your niche who are active and successful on Twitter. Look at their account to see what they tweet about and how they engage with their audience. Doing this, you'll discover what you're doing that works, and what you need to adjust.
You'll notice that the top Twitter users are personable and positive. They're fun to be around, they ask questions, and they reply to their followers. Acting positive on Twitter is crucial. Recent research, wittily titled Who Gives a Tweet? found that Twitter users detest people who use the platform to spout off. Moaning, groaning and whining on Twitter is not cool. You want to make people feel good when they come across you. Aim to be a ray of sunshine buoying them up, not a weight around their ankle dragging them down to the bottom of the ocean.
Twitter is similar to a professional cocktail party or networking event. As with a cocktail party, there's no one way to do it right. Both the bold and the timid will get to meet people, and if they're interested in others, they'll have interesting conversations. The most important thing is being there. As Woody Allen said:
Eighty percent of success is showing up.
Once you've shown up on Twitter, take a keen interest in everyone you meet. In the first half of the twentieth century, Dale Carnegie shared the following words of wisdom about meeting people face-to-face. It's just as relevant today on social networks:
There is one all-important law of human conduct. If we obey that law, we shall almost never get into trouble. In fact, that law, if obeyed, will bring us countless friends and constant happiness. But the very instant we break the law, we shall get into endless trouble. The law is this: Always make the other person feel important.
When you put other people first on Twitter, your own success will follow.