Social media is a relatively new medium for contractors to utilise when promoting skills and making new contacts. For many, the main obstacles to taking advantage of the opportunities offered by social media are a lack of knowledge about what you need to do to be successful with it, and the time you need to spend doing it.
It’s worth stating that not every contractor needs a social media presence, but when used effectively it can really improve your professional profile.
In this article, we will cover:
- Social media for contractors,
- Whether you should do it yourself or get someone else to do it for you,
- Social media dos and don’ts, and
- Where to find your existing and potential clients on the various platforms.
If you don’t really use social media in your personal life, putting it to work for your contracting career can be difficult to learn and labour-intensive, with success hard to measure.
Used properly however, social media can open up a much wider network of clients for those that source contracts themselves. A large network of previous and prospective clients can provide a very positive and potentially profitable addition to your contracting career.
Social media policy for contractors
If you choose to use social media to enhance your contracting career, where do you start? When it comes to social media, there’s lots of choice. But what’s the best way to convert the time you spend on social media into new enquiries?
The first thing you need to do is decide on your own social media policy. For contractors, it’s best to keep the professional and the personal separate.
You are not defined by your work, so, if you enjoy social media personally, don’t feel that you should completely curtail your use of it, but do make sure that personal posts are kept private for only your friends to see. You should certainly spare any existing or potential clients pictures of you on holiday in Spain, or on a night out with your friends, or your views on world affairs. They will not add anything to your business proposition – in fact, your personal social media posts may have the opposite effect and could lose you business.
Whether you keep your professional and personal accounts separate, or combine them into one, remember to ensure that all of your contributions and posts are still authentic in tone and content. People buy from people first, so if your personality and approach resonate with existing and potential clients, they’re more likely to engage with you when looking for information or seeking quotes.
Social media for contractors: LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the most business-focused of the three major social media platforms. If your clients are there, you’ll certainly need to be there too. Also interesting to note is that according to data published by LinkedIn, recruiters use LinkedIn extensively to find contractors for specific roles given to them by their clients.
The first step you need to take after joining the platform is to create a professional, fresh, and concise contractor profile containing:
- A description of what you currently do and what you’ve done in the past,
- A profile summary – essentially a statement about yourself (2,000 characters maximum),
- Your educational history, and
- Testimonials from clients you have done work for in the past.
You can then build up a network of the clients and colleagues you’ve worked with and for in the past – LinkedIn makes this easy by matching the email addresses you have on file with users on their platform. You can send these contacts a request to connect with you. Once you’re connected, you can see information and updates they post, and they can see yours.
Many clients find new contractors by using the search function on the site. For example, if you have the words ‘Linux contractor’ or ‘management consultant’ in your profile, you’re likely to appear in a user’s search results, particularly if they are local to you. It’s therefore important that when you’re building your profile on LinkedIn, you think about the search terms people are likely to use to find a contractor like you and include it in your profile prominently.
There are other ways to make connections too. Many users cluster into industry-specific groups, so try to find those groups where your skills will be useful and appropriate to the members. Ask and answer questions – LinkedIn favours those who are active on their platform and awards them a higher site ranking.
A higher site ranking means you’ll be found by more potential clients who will connect with you, further building the number of people and companies exposed to your profile. Regular participation is a great way to boost enquiries, sales and to find collaborators for future projects too.
Writing and posting articles also provides a great way to get noticed. Try to write 400-600 words on an area of interest to the people in your networks and the groups to which you belong. Share your insights with them at the same time as highlighting your experience in your anecdotes or reports.
Social media for contractors: Twitter
Twitter is a micro-blogging site – a platform on which you can post 280-character snippets. Using a small number of words to get a message across focuses the mind, with the end result being much more action-orientated interactions than platforms that allow longer-form expression.
Twitter is particularly loved and used by millennials, professionals and even celebrities who like to keep up to date with their own world and the wider world around them and whose time-poor existence demands news in brief and not news in depth. If you’re at an event, exhibition, or conference, Twitter is the ideal platform to share this information on, interacting via hashtags to follow certain stories and events.
To get started, set up a professional profile and start following as many clients and other contractors as you can to integrate yourself in your network. Many of them may start following you back. You can see the posts of anyone you follow or anyone with a public profile and vice versa.
Twitter posts (tweets) can be used to let followers know what you’re doing, link to articles and blog posts on your site or other sites, and to post links to reports containing news about your industry.
One of the more surprisingly successful commercial uses of Twitter is the private and direct messaging function. To many users, this type of outreach is friendlier and more personal than cold-calling or cold messaging which makes it ideal for networking and building rapport with clients or other contractors. Don’t forget to turn this function on!
Social media for contractors: Facebook
Facebook is the world’s largest social media platform and many businesses in the UK and around the world appear on it as an outlet for sales and as a method of brand awareness and connection with new and existing clients. But can it be used successfully by contractors?
Out of all three platforms featured in this article, it is the least commercially exploitable for B2B companies (and therefore contractors), so this should be the platform you spend the least time developing. Having said that, there are contractor groups on Facebook which are great for networking and for finding collaborators which makes participation worthwhile, even if you don’t win any contracts from this platform.
You can even use Facebook for following businesses and services that are relevant to you, such as ContractingWISE – We post all of our articles and updates on the easy to follow platform.
With Facebook, you can build your own business page which allows your followers and others to view what you do. You can use it to post news about your work.
Facebook is a ‘non-salesy’ platform, you may find followers will start to unfollow you if you post too many adverts about your service to them. Instead, you might want to link to blog posts you have written or to news that followers might find interesting, leaving promotional messages only for times when you have a dip in your work diary.
Outsourcing Social media
If you don’t want to build and maintain your own social media profiles, there are social media experts available to help. Prices vary from £49 to £499 a month and, as you’d expect, what you will get in return is reflected in the price. If this is the route you want to take, make sure you find a provider with good reviews, a track record working with contractors and as a bonus, with experience in your industry. What you will need to ask for is evidence of leads and increased engagement they have produced for their clients from social media, together with their ability to provide clear and useful analytics, so that you know how effective their work is.
However, if you have time, prefer to save money and want to do it yourself, it rarely requires more than 15-30 minutes a day to keep your social media profiles active, with the prospect of generating new income and customers. Make sure that you spend those 15 minutes a day linking with peers and clients in the industry, both those you already know and those you’d like to know. As your circle of contacts increases, engage with them daily if you can, sharing relevant industry information and updates – it’s a very cost-effective way of being seen regularly by those people who can positively impact on your contracting services.
It’s important to remember that social media should not replace any existing marketing and networking you do – it should complement it. Read more about great marketing for contractors by clicking here to learn more about how to market yourself and win a contract you love.
Use social media to elevate your contracting career
Have you made the most of social media when it comes to your contracting career?
We hope these tips will help you use social media to your benefit, reach more clients and increase your authority in the industry.