For self-employed professionals, trying to use social media marketing without regularly producing good, original content is a waste of time and money. You’ll find plenty of social media “experts” trying to convince you that anyone can use social media to get clients, regardless of whether you have content of your own to share. But that’s simply not true.

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The purpose of using social media marketing for consultants, coaches, and other service professionals is threefold: 1) stay visible, 2) build credibility, and 3) get prospective clients to feel as if they know, like, and trust you. Far too much of what you’ll hear about using social media relates to purpose #1, but simply staying visible to your desired audience is not enough. If it was, we’d all be getting business by simply running ads.

Social media marketing is built around making regular posts that keep you visible to a desired audience. So what do you post? Occasionally, you can make promotional posts that market your services directly. But if that’s all you post, no one will follow you. Why would they? The majority of the time, you need to post content that is educational, entertaining, or evocative (thought- or emotion-provoking). These are the kinds of posts that keep followers interested and allow you to build and maintain an audience.

What form should this content take? You have many types to choose from: blog posts, articles, tip sheets, infographics, white papers, ebooks, slide decks, videos, podcasts and other recorded audio, or graphic images such as photos and illustrations. All of these are suitable social media fodder, although written content has the edge with search engines.

Now, where is this content supposed to come from? I’ve heard multiple social media gurus claim that you can market via social media just by sharing content created by others; you don’t need to come up with your own. This simply makes no sense. How does sharing an educational article written by another expert build YOUR credibility? In what way does posting a funny cat video allow you to gain people’s trust? If you’re always sharing material authored by others, how does that help people get to know you?

Sure, you may stay more visible by posting other people’s stuff, but is that alone really going to help you get
clients? Visibility has value, but unless your audience also understands what you do and trusts that you know how to do it, it rarely translates to paying business. And, how much time will it take you to scour the web in order to keep finding interesting items to share?

Here’s what does work for service professionals to gain business via social media:

  1. Create your own educational, entertaining, or evocative content on themes relevant to your work that will boost your credibility, and allow prospective clients to know and trust you.
  2. Post your original content regularly on the social media network(s) of your choice.
  3. Less frequently, share relevant content from others that you think will also interest your audience.
  4. Even less frequently, make promotional posts that market your services directly.

When you create your own content in any of the forms listed above, you gain instant credibility with your desired audience. By sharing your content on social media, you make yourself and your work more visible. As you post content regularly, you allow prospective clients to get to know, like, and trust you as a professional and a person. This is the social media formula that results in paying clients.

With original, relevant, quality content — writing a blog, publishing articles, producing a podcast, etc. — social media marketing DOES work for self-employed professionals. Without it, trying to get noticed on social media simply results in more online noise for your audience, and more wasted marketing effort for you.

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