You may have heard that social media is the hottest opportunity of 2012, but you might still be wondering how businesses use social media … and how it can be your path to the writer’s life.
Social media is basically a group of websites that provide a place for their users to share messages with their friends, colleagues, or even strangers. The most popular social media sites are Facebook.com, Twitter.com, and LinkedIn.com.
The thing that makes social media so unique – and such a big opportunity – is the ability to connect with virtually anyone around the world and share your message with them.
Right now, social media is being embraced by all types of businesses because they can use it to their advantage to reach out to people like they’ve never been able to do with offline media, like print, TV, or radio. Social media really is changing the world.
But businesses need a social media expert to show them the most effective ways to use social media – and they are willing to pay very well for this expertise. Many social media experts charge each client $2,500–$12,000 per month – and they’re having no trouble finding clients.
So why should anyone who wants to live the writer’s life embrace social media now?
Here are the three main reasons I’m giving it a try:
1. Work from anywhere – literally.
We all have the dream of working from anywhere at any time, but honestly, technology limits us a bit. I personally do not want to take my computer to the beach. And I find it a tad difficult to type a 14-page sales letter on my iPhone.
But a Social Media Expert has a whole different life. They can do most of their work from their smartphone. With all the social media apps now available, they can check and update their clients’ accounts, follow people, and tweet right from their phone from anywhere with Wi-Fi or cell phone reception.
2. Have a lot of fun and get paid for it.
I don’t know about you, but I think social media is a lot of fun. I check my social media accounts several times a day – even if I’m not getting paid. I don’t just follow the goings-on of friends and family. I also network with clients and work colleagues and keep up with industry trends in my niche.
But when I am getting paid for it, I’m still having a great time social networking with people on behalf of clients. For my clients, I use Twitter and Facebook to search for and answer customers’ questions and share quality content. This extra attention helps my clients get more loyal customers.
I even enjoy training my clients’ staff to handle social media. It’s fun to show them all the benefits of these social media tools and watch them grasp how powerful this form of marketing can be.
Most people know just a small percentage of what social media can do for their business. They have no idea it’s a sales machine, networking goldmine, and customer loyalty generator. Showing them this side of social media gets me really excited.
3. Help businesses succeed.
When I first became a copywriter, I chose to specialize in writing for small businesses. I saw a need there. I knew I could help them increase business with direct mail, a better online presence, and a few other tricks I have up my sleeve.
But after pounding the pavement for months, it became clear that my mentors were not kidding. Small business is a hard niche because the majority of them do not understand direct marketing, do not have the budget for it, and, honestly, just don’t care that much.
I decided to switch niches and cater to the personal development industry. I love it, but I still yearn to help small businesses. That’s just one more reason I’m so passionate about social media …
Because social media is so popular right now and so many businesses are seeing such great results, small businesses are eager to give it a try. The investment isn’t huge (much less than one direct mail campaign), so they can get up to speed quickly and stay within budget. It’s trackable, so they know if they’re making it. And it’s exciting to get their name out there, connect with customers, and then see them in the store.
I’ve decided to couple my social media training with my copywriting services to offer more services to more businesses. I made this decision mainly because I’ve already invested a lot of time and energy into copywriting, and I already have some steady clients in that niche. My social media work will provide a nice side income for me – plus I love the work.
But you can easily make a full-time living – working just part time – running social media campaigns for clients. The demand is there. And businesses are willing to pay.
I recently attended a networking event where the guest speaker was a “Social Media Expert.” She passed out a form to sign up for her social media training class and said, “We had 20 spots, but there are only 10 left.”
By the time the meeting ended, the remaining spots were sold. At a rate of $297 per seat, she made $5,940. (More than most people make in a month.) I attended the class to get an inside view of what it took to be a Social Media Expert, and I was impressed by the amount of new clients she got from the class.
Most of the attendees decided they couldn’t handle social media and they hired her to do it for them. Considering she could charge $2,500–$12,000 per month, she’s making a good living.
The point of this story is that social media – and finding social media clients – is not difficult. As a writer, you already have most of what you need, the ability to write. The only thing you might need to learn is how to use social media to help businesses achieve their goals.
I’d even venture to say it’s probably the fastest, easiest, most fun way to start living the writer’s life.
What do you think? Comment below to join the discussion …
“If you’re not blogging … you’re doing something wrong.” − Dan Zarella
Do you agree?
I do – and so do Valerie Leroyer and Faith Attaguile.
I met Valerie and Faith last year at AWAI’s Bootcamp and Job Fair in Delray Beach, Florida. We’re also in a professional group for copywriters known as Circle Of Success.
Since last year, these savvy bloggers and social media consultants have been very busy and yesterday they launched a brand new social media and blogging site designed to help you “Sing your message. Hook your audience. Build your community.”
Even if you’re not yet into blogging or the social media world (or if it’s not working for you), they’re here to show you how to get known with “pizzazz!”
LetsBuildYourBlog.com is their exciting new website where they offer Blog Packages and Social Media Packages to help you start your journey, manage your impact … and win!
They’re even offering a free gift – 5 free ebooks (no opt-in required). Each eBook is designed to help you become more familiar with the world of social media and blogging.
I recently ran into a client who thought he didn’t need social media to grow his business. As it turns out, after I showed him what a small investment in social media could do, he couldn’t get enough.
He went from avoiding social media to embracing it in the five seconds it took him to pull the stats and see my efforts were paying off – to the tune of $1,000 in sales for just an hour’s work. During that hour, I set up a Twitter account, followed several people interested in his niche, posted a few tweets linking back to his content, and engaged with some potential customers.
If you’re a writer looking to branch out into social media – and you should be – your current clients are a great place to start. But what if they aren’t willing to give you a trial run?
Well, first, it’s important to understand why they’re reluctant.
Most of the time, they’re scared of social media because they don’t really understand it. It’s never been a part of their strategy before. They’re confused why you think it’s necessary now.
Also, companies are used to being in control. They don’t like the thought of getting “out there” and connecting with their customers so directly.
Traditional advertising was as simple as creating a TV or radio ad, putting it out there, and waiting for sales.
If a customer had a problem, they took it up with the company and no one – except maybe their close friends and family – knew about it. You didn’t have to worry about someone calling you out on poor customer service or people posting reviews online.
It was an easier time, but now customers are demanding that businesses interact with them online, especially through social media.
In fact, according to HubSpot, people who “like” brands on Facebook are 51 percent more likely to buy something. Those who follow a brand on Twitter are 67 percent more likely to purchase.
Marketing through social media means business owners have to let go of some control. They have to let their customers have a say – which is scary.
They may have heard the horror stories about companies getting bad press from social media. Like Chipotle, who had to deal with fan outrage after an employee posted on Facebook that she ran over a cat on her way home and didn’t care. Or United Airlines, which had its reputation damaged after a YouTube video showed their employees throwing and breaking passengers’ guitars. Naturally, they’re worried about their reputation and the effect social media could have on it.
So, how can you convince your clients that, when managed correctly, social media is the best way to reach more new customers and that it should be a part of their marketing plan?
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Show them what people are already saying.
One of the fastest ways to make a strong case for your argument is to do a little research first. If your client has a fairly good-sized company, someone is probably saying something about them online.
Do a few searches (in popular search engines, Google Alerts, or TweetDeck) to see what comes up.
Take screenshots of tweets, updates, or reviews about the company.
Then determine how many of these posts and comments are positive, negative, or neutral. This will probably be an estimate based on the information you find, but let’s say you find 20 comments. If 10 of them are positive, that’s 50% positive – or 50% negative/neutral. (When you approach your client, you won’t just bring “bad news.” You’ll tell them how your strategy will turn the neutral and negative comments in their favor.)
If there are any questions from customers that haven’t been answered, make sure you bring that up to your client. Questions like, “I’d like to buy your blue widget, but I’m not sure what size it comes in. Please advise,” can be especially persuasive because they show your client they’re actually losing money by not engaging with their customers.
2. Include their competitors’ information.
Your clients want to keep up with the competition. So be sure to tell them what other companies in their niche are doing in social media and what success they’ve had, including glowing reviews from customers. If their competitors haven’t yet embraced social media, this is a great chance to convince your client to get there first.
3. Use evidence to make your case.
The proof you’ll want to use will depend on your client and their market. But, in general, you’ll want to show that your client’s target market is active in social media.
If they’re targeting fishermen, for example, showing some social media groups for fishermen might be persuasive.
If your clients’ ideal customers are grandparents, you could share this statistic with them: 45- to 54-year-olds make up the largest age group of people visiting Facebook. They account for 30 percent of the overall traffic (according to Google Ad Planner).
Also, you can use data on social media usage or social network demographics published by organizations like eMarketer, MarketingProfs, or Nielsen to make your case when it makes sense.
And here’s another statistic that should be pretty universally convincing …
Forty-one percent of Internet users trust information on Facebook. And if the information is posted by one of their friends, the trust level increases up to 64 percent. (According to a study conducted by Invoke Solutions.)
For businesses, this means they have instant credibility, which equals more sales. If they can get a few of their customers to post information about them, they have the chance to sell to those customers’ friends.
Many businesses are taking advantage of this statistic by offering incentives to customers who share their company’s information with the most people.
4. Offer to start small.
You can start with just one social media platform or just a few hours a week. The platform you start with will depend on the business and the goals they’re trying to accomplish.
Speaking of starting small …
A lot of people jump into social media thinking it’s going to bring tons of visitors to their website overnight … but that’s just not the case.
The best thing you can do is to set realistic expectations from the very beginning. Don’t tell your potential clients you can change things overnight. Tell them it will take some time, and then work with them to set realistic goals for the first few months. Realistic goals would be small monthly steps like getting one sale from social media within the first month or increasing their website traffic by 10% within three months.
5. Have a plan for everything.
Remember, some clients are afraid of social media because they’re afraid of generating negative publicity. So tell them up front what you plan to do if someone says something negative about the company on social media.
What will you say if customer service issues come up or if someone makes a complaint? How will you handle it so it looks good on the company and satisfies the customer?
One possible solution, depending on the issue or complaint, might be to apologize publicly and invite the customer to contact the company via email to get a refund or replacement.
Having plans in place for this sort of thing puts the client at ease. It shows them you’re a true professional who cares about their image.
6. Explain the many benefits of social media:
It’s a cost-effective way to build relationships with customers because most platforms are free.
It’s a great way to get feedback on products and services.
It’s a source for information about their competitors.
As you can see from the above ideas, businesses would be crazy to miss an opportunity to build their brand awareness with social media. I think after you try some of the tactics above, your potential clients will see it that way, too.
Give it a try and then let me know how it goes. Comment below to join the discussion …
Let’s imagine for a moment you were one of the first web designers on the scene when businesses realized they needed to get a website up to stay competitive.
Companies would have begged you to build their website – for any amount.
You could have worked hard for a couple of years and retired early.
There is a similar opportunity right now – and it will be around for several more years. I’m talking about social media.
Social media is a great freelance opportunity right now because it’s changing the way businesses market and reach their potential customers. And businesses don’t have time to learn everything they need to know about social media.
They need an expert who can take all the information and give them only the parts that are relevant to their business.
I’m talking about businesses using social networks (like Facebook, LinkedIn, Meetup, YouTube, Twitter, among others) to connect with people who might want to buy their products or use their services.
Not all businesses will need all social networks – that’s where you come in. You can create a social media strategy that tells them where to focus their efforts.
Another perk is your social media knowledge can mean big, long-term revenue for you because managing a client’s social media is not a one-time service.
Once you create their strategy and their social profiles are set up, they’ll need someone to keep their profiles up to date and interact with real people on a regular basis.
If they simply set up social profiles and forget about them, they’ll never reach enough people to build momentum and increase their client base.
Some businesses will hire you to consistently reach out to potential customers over time. They’ll want to increase their brand awareness and annual sales.
Others will want you to come in and create a social media campaign that will quickly increase their website traffic, leads, and sales. They might have a new product, and to increase its sales, they’ll launch a social media campaign. Depending on the network they’re using, they might have discounts, contests, prizes, or free samples.
The entire goal is to spread their message far and wide as fast as possible so they can sell a lot of their new product.
One example is the clothing store Gap, which used Groupon (a popular social buying site) to offer $50 worth of clothing for just $25. This social media campaign brought in $11 million in one day.
As you can tell, there are many options when it comes to social media campaigns. That’s why business owners are hiring social media experts to handle it for them.
As I said, the opportunity is now to get in on the ground floor of this trend. I’m putting everything in action to be one of the “lucky” ones. And I want to show you how I’m doing it so you can become a social media expert too.
Many people think it’s already too late, that there are already too many social media experts out there. But let me bust this myth for you …
Yes, it is true that the Internet is full of people claiming to be social media experts. But we all know that proving it is a completely different thing.
Businesses only care about results. They expect increased sales, more leads, and more visitors to their websites from social media campaigns. And only a teeny-tiny fraction of these so-called “social media experts” know how to get those results.
They don’t know anything about marketing, writing, or building relationships with potential customers.
I promise you, the majority of them will disappear quickly.
But you and I won’t.
Because once you know how to use social media to get results for businesses (like more visitors, more leads, and more sales), you’ll never have a shortage of jobs. That’s been my personal experience.
I recently consulted with a copywriting client who flat out refused to take an interest in social media. He wanted to stick with the old way of doing things. He thought social media was a fad that would quickly pass.
I really believe every business needs a strong social media presence, so I kept trying.
I finally convinced him to give it a try. I offered to spend just one hour on his social media strategy.
During that hour, I set up his Twitter account, followed several people interested in his niche, posted a few tweets linking back to his content, and engaged with potential customers.
And to make sure I proved the value of social media, I also made sure to create tracking links so he could see any sales that came in from Twitter.
Then I waited …
Within a few days, he had made almost $1,000 directly from Twitter. From just an hour’s worth of work.
This was enough to convince him of the value in social media. Now I’m managing all his campaigns. I’m even training other people on his staff to pitch in.
The true potential in social media is the value you bring to the businesses you can help.
If you can create a strategy for a business that gets results, you will be their hero. Clients will be excited to pay you because they know you’ll get them a huge return on their investment. And they’ll recommend you to everyone.
Most self-proclaimed social media experts don’t understand that having a social media profile alone will do nothing for a business. It takes an actual comprehensive strategy to make social media work.
Today’s myth is a common one for freelance writers who are hesitant to add social media to their list of services:
“My clients – or the clients in my niche – don’t need social media. So I shouldn’t bother learning it.”
I disagree. They might not think they need social media. But as soon as you show them what it can do for their business (more leads and increased sales) – they’ll want it.
Remember the client I mentioned in this essay? He wanted to stick with the old way of doing things and thought social media was a fad that would quickly pass.
But when I convinced him to let me work on it for just one hour, he wound up making almost $1,000 – directly from Twitter. That was enough to convince him to keep using social media.
Some businesses might take more convincing. But even they soon won’t have a choice in the matter.
Social media is changing how businesses operate because customers are demanding it.
According to The Faces of Social Media, a 2010 study from Knowledge Networks and MediaPost Communication, an overwhelming 82 percent of the U.S. teen and adult population use social media.
They also found 15 percent of U.S. social media users said they’re more willing to buy from brands they can find in social media.
Having a social media presence is clearly a business advantage right now, but in the next few years, it will become as essential as having a website.
In my opinion, businesses should focus on the most popular social media networks first: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. That may change soon, as Google+ becomes more popular. (As social media experts, it’s our job to keep an eye on social media and make changes to our clients’ strategies as needed.)
Companies who are just waiting for social media to go away are going to see their businesses decline at a rapid rate. Many of them won’t know why. And they’ll pour more and more money into yellow pages, billboards, and other advertising. Or they’ll blame the economy for their troubles.
You can be their hero.
You can show them how to play by the new rules to gain market share and raving fans, i.e., customers who buy again and again.
And you’ll be well compensated for it. Other social media experts are charging their clients $2,500–$12,000 per month to manage their social media accounts.
I’ll be claiming getting in on the action. How about you? Comment below to let me know …