If you want to build a name for yourself and ensure that clients will be flocking to take a look at your design portfolio, you have to be on the case with your social media presence.
There's more to it than simply spamming yourself across all the channels, though; a smart approach to social media can get your name out there without taking up all your time and energy. Follow these tips to give yourself an instant social boost.
01. Pick your network
Rule one: you don't need a presence on them all. Identify which social media platforms your target audience use, pick the most relevant, and concentrate on managing your accounts properly.
Whether you opt for Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest or others, treat your channels visually and verbally as an extension of your brand (if you're a freelancer, it's especially important to position yourself as a brand on Facebook – with a dedicated page – and to be familiar with Facebook's rules for businesses).
02. Join the discussion
It's all about engaging the right audiences with valuable content. Don't just spam people: share useful links, comment on industry issues and show that you're commercially aware. Join Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn groups for designers, illustrators and small business groups, follow the game-changers on Twitter and Instagram, and add value by contributing to the conversation.
03. Ask questions that start conversations
Sharing your expertise is one way to engage people on social media, but asking questions is another. Ask the design community to weigh in on topics that are interesting and relevant to your business, and ask for feedback on work in progress. The aim? Always to create a human connection.
04. Use an image
Tweets with images get more engagement. The same is true for Facebook and LinkedIn posts – and Pinterest and Instagram are based entirely on images for a reason. Showing work is infinitely better than describing it, so choose an image and optimise it for the platform using the appropriate image resolution, ratio and file size.
05. Nail your timing
Share content at the right time, so it reaches the most people. What time zones are your audiences in, and when do they engage with social media – on the way to work? At lunchtime? In the evening? Features like Facebook Insights and Twitter's Analytics will help you find out , but the key is to know the habits of your audience – which comes with time.
Remember that while it's ok to post multiple times on a channel like Twitter, Facebook will penalise you if you post too often, or link to the same content within 24 hours.
06. Go native
Noticed more videos in your Facebook feed? Facebook's news feed algorithm tightly controls what people see, but it's currently still pushing video, which means native videos are continuing to see more organic reach in the news feed. (Linking to content on YouTube isn't as effective.)
Bear in mind that your video content must get to the point immediately – you've got seconds before a viewer continues scrolling, so save any branding until the end – and bear in mind that videos auto-play without audio, so consider subtitles.
This article originally appeared in Computer Arts (opens in new tab) issue 253. Buy it here (opens in new tab).