Saw an interesting post from Melanie Brooks this morning on Freelanceswitch.com – 5 Ways NOT to Use Twitter for Freelancers, and I agree with her points, but it got me thinking about how I use Twitter for my business. While I’ve been dabbling in the Google+ camp, I’m still finding that Twitter is a great tool to help me improve my business. Though I’ve written this from my perspective as a freelance writer, you should be able to use these tips for your small to medium sized business.
Find new projects
I can trace many of my best clients directly back to Twitter. By using the search option in Tweetdeck for the keyword “copywriter,” I have been able to reach out to the folks asking or talking about copywriting and offer my services. I only respond when the tweet says they are looking for someone. More often than not this has turned into new business, and since you’re catching them in the early stages, the turnaround time seems to be very quick. Choose an appropriate keyword for your business, and set up your own filter to have new leads popup on your screen.
Find new partners
As I stumble across interesting tweets, I try and take note of the person that sent it. This usually leads to me checking out their profile, where I will learn that they are a freelancer in xxx field. For some reason, I’ve got a sense of kinship for other freelancers, and almost always check out their link (if they remembered to put one in their profile) to see what’s in their portfolio. If there’s something there that I can use in the future, I add them to my list so that I can expand my offerings to my clients. This is good for my clients, good for my new partners, and best of all – good for me!
Find new ideas
Good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal them outright. Pretty sure this axiom is the same no matter what your field is. If you’re a graphic designer and you see a fantastic design, you probably analyze it to figure out how it works so you can use it in future projects. If you’re a web person and you see a great widget/plugin/code snippet, I imagine it’s the same. Twitter is a fantastic playground where everyone is sharing the newest and shiniest ideas.
While pissing and moaning in Twitter is not likely going to get you new fans (other than sexy bots – they always want to be your friend), it is a great place to get some moral support when you need it. Got a client/boss that is frustrating the hell out of you? A quick DM to your fellow freelancer can let you blow off some steam and maybe even get some advice on how to fix it. NOTE : see how I said DM there? If you’re venting about your clients/boss in the public space, I doubt you’re going to find any new clients/jobs in that space in the future. Who wants to work with that guy that’s bitching about work – while he’s at work?
Twitter is amazing for getting answers to your questions. Almost as fast as Google, but without as many ads. Not sure if your new design is sending the right message? Tweet it out, and get instant feedback. Need some help with a stubborn bit of code? The answer might be 140 characters (or less) away. People like to help other people most of the time, but not all of the time. If you ask for help occasionally, you’re more than likely going to get it. If every tweet is asking for help, chances are your Twitter stream is going to get really lonely (except for the sexy bots). Paying it forward and helping others before you need help is a great way to ensure help will be there when you need it.
These are a few of the ways I use Twitter daily – what works for you?