If you’ve been freelancing for years, you know that digital word of mouth is crucial when you’re doing business on the Social Web. You might probably be blogging, or have established a presence in social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or Google+. You may even have your own brand page.. and yet, the real question here is: Are you an authority figure in your niche? Or, simply put: Are you credible enough? You may have encountered the term ‘social influence’ and everyone seems to be talking about it these days. Should you even be bothered?
The Nitty Gritty of Social Influence for Every Freelancer
Perhaps, you don’t even have to go to the length of stealing customers from your competition if you will only invest in your social influence. As defined by Wikipedia, Social influence occurs when one’s emotions, opinions, or behaviors are affected by others. In short, it will be your ability to influence others to take a specific action and for freelancers, that can mean your influence to get clients hire your services as an expert in your niche. You may think that this is a popularity contest, but there’s more to numbers than meet the eye, and social influence can simply mean:
Being a Specialist
If you want to develop your influence and be known in an industry, you have to focus on one area and stop being a jack (or jane ) of all trades. By demonstrating your expertise in a specific field, you will get the respect that helps you gain high profile clients in the long run. Take note: You don’t simply declare that you’re an expert. You have to walk the walk, and you can do this through content marketing – by regularly creating content that’s authentic and compelling, which can be shared through various social networks across the Web.
Sharing More, Selling Less
Gone were the days when businesses chase customers by bombarding them with annoying sales pitches. If you want to earn your social influence right, you can’t simply buy it – no matter how shady sites out there are offering you hundreds to thousands of dummy fans or followers. There is a big difference between sharing and shilling. If you find a way to offer genuine help that matters to your target market, you will reap the rewards of not only being seen as a real expert in your niche, but someone they can trust. And we all know that trust is the final push that makes someone buy a product or service.
There’s a wisdom in getting to know everyone worth knowing in your niche. Who are the influential people in your industry? Key influencers move people, no doubt, and if they like what you have to offer – they can be a great source of publicity for your personal brand. This is not an easy fete though and it takes you back to sharing quality content to getting noticed. Imagine this: An influencer retweets your blog post to thousands of followers that you don’t even have access to. This means, you have to keep your sharing buttons easily accessible so people can share your brand’s juice, or you may create a bond that builds reciprocation through..
It may be tough, especially for freelancers working 40++ hours in a week to monitor conversations about his/her brand on social networks – but if you can spare at least an hour each week, do so. You may miss opportunities for collaboration and queries from future clients. Sometimes, they don’t really know what they want to achieve in a project and if you’re quick enough to spot the one-liner question that can lead to a discussion on how you can be of help, you may just land a sweet deal. The key here is using social media platforms as a communication channel, an engagement tool, and not as an automated mass marketing outlet.
There are online tools like Klout and PeerIndex that help you know your influence score and other stats. Still, you must go beyond the numbers that can be gamed and aim for quality leads that can be converted into another freelancing gig. Keep in mind that the Social Web is not about self-promotion, but the value of community built on relationships. Yes, there’s no shortcut here and even social media experts will have to agree with me that it’s all about building value on a consistent pace. This may simply mean being the best that you can be, loving what you do, and spending time to share that passion with your online community. There’s no need to be someone you’re not.
Social influence may be another buzzword that defines your visibility on the Social Web. If you want to win in this social media age, you’ve got to be social! It’s not enough anymore to simply show off your professional credibility. Are you ready to build that bridge between you and your community?
Do you think that social influence is important for freelancers today?
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