How to Grow Social Network Influence as an Entrepreneur

By Angela Tague, Contributor, on February 27, 2017

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Like many people, I spend random free moments scrolling through Facebook or Twitter on my smartphone. I enjoy seeing what my friends are doing and reading articles from the businesses I follow.

When I started out as a freelance writer, I often posted links to my latest published pieces while browsing. It was encouraging to get feedback from friends and family. Although I knew there were business account options, I never thought I needed to bother with them or worry about how to grow social network influence. After all, I’m just a business of one.

Taking My Business up a Notch

Then, my mindset changed. One day, when I was filling out an application for a writing project, the client asked for links to my professional social media profiles. Oops. My accounts were riddled with memes, pictures of private family birthday parties and embarrassing Throwback Thursday photos from high school friends.

My online presence was not professional. I knew I needed to start separate accounts for myself as a professional writer, because:

  • My potential clients wanted to see where I’d share content linked to their name. Did my feed look respectable? Did they want to be associated with my personality?
  • I wanted an online presence devoted to my business that wouldn’t be overshadowed with personal updates and photos.
  • I knew having publicly accessible pages for hiring managers and potential clients to browse would help me land jobs.
  • Clients want to hire writers who have a growing, public audience of potential readers to consume their articles.

Although I was initially hesitant to set up more social media accounts and maintain them, I’m thankful I did. Fast-forward several years, and social media is now one of the top ways I land new writing projects and stay top of mind with my current clients, who I rely on to hire me for future projects.

Grow Your Freelance Business With Social Media

The goal of social media is to engage your audience and persuade them to take action, whether you want them to click a link, buy a product, tell their friends about you, read an article or comment on a question. Many entrepreneurs start out by flooding their feeds with every detail about their product or service. They share prices, offer samples, direct readers to online shopping carts or cheerfully explain where to call to set up an appointment.

They sell, sell, sell.

This approach often comes off as spammy and feels overwhelming. To be truly influential and win over potential customers, you need to make them fall in love with your ideas, services, products and personality. As a general rule, spend 80 percent of your time educating and entertaining your social media followers, and use the remaining 20 percent to sell.

Develop Content That Resonates

To cultivate a network of devoted customers, peers, potential customers and general fans, post:

  • Behind-the-scenes photos or stories of how you create your product or complete your service. If you own a bakery, show the giant mixing bowls or stacks of cookie trays and wow your readers with interesting facts. Do you use 20 pounds of chocolate chips for one cookie recipe? Neat!
  • Introductions of the staff. Post a photo of yourself and include a short bio that expands beyond your work skills. Include some hobbies or your favorite book to relate to your readers. Since I’m a business of one, I include my furry coworkers in these types of posts. I get multiple comments and likes whenever I post pictures of my dogs.
  • Educational material that empowers your readers. If you have an auto repair shop, offer a tip to help motorists get more mileage from their tank of fuel or explain the number one reason for flat tires and how to prevent them.
  • Memes or funny videos. When used sparingly, business pages can get a positive response from humorous posts. TGIF sentiments or topics that poke fun at your own industry usually go over well. I often post silly sayings about writers’ personalities or how we work crazy hours for inspiration. If you own a landscaping business and post jokes about the difficulties of growing plants or controlling weeds, you’re sure to engage readers who relate to those challenges.

Above all, let your personality shine on your business social media accounts and learn how to grow social network influence by experimenting with your posts. People want to engage with people, not polished business speak. Posting advertisements every day won’t build curiosity and loyalty. Offering advice and helpful conversation with your readers will turn them into fans and, eventually, customers or cheerleaders who will promote your business through social media sharing.

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