Due to the nature of their jobs, contractors and locums have to promote their business by themselves, since they don’t rely on a steady stream of work as a non-contractor does. This means going where the clients are. Utilising social media can make a world of difference when it comes to promoting yourself and your business; however, many contractors or locums are averse to spending time and effort on this kind of promotion, preferring instead to focus on their work.
Other contractors are unsure how to make the most of social media or their channels. Because we understand just how important it is for you to market yourself, whether you’re starting out your contracting journey or have a few years of experience already, we’ve compiled a few practical tips to guide you.
Can Social Media Benefit You?
Social media can be hard work and, for contractors or locums who are just starting out, it can be a challenge to find the time to do it properly. And just like any other skill, knowing how to best use social media is a learning curve, and it can take a while to see the benefits. However, by investing in it, you are taking a two-pronged approach to your marketing: building relationships with clients and showing off what you can do.
Two years ago, at the beginning of 2017, the number of social media users in the UK was already more than 39 million. In 2018, 83% of adults were tweeting, Snapchating and ‘liking’ other pages (including businesses). At the moment, 37% of the global population (or 2.8 billion people) use social media. By 2022, it’s estimated that 42.88 million people will be active on social media on a monthly basis.
By not being on social media, you risk losing out on such a large pool of potential clients.
In order to choose contractors and locums, people need to find them. What are the most popular ways to find potential employees or clients? Most people would start by Googling it; search engines will offer them a lot of information, including your website and articles you’ve written. Word of mouth is still a popular way to find a contractor too, as are affiliations to associations, references and reviews. It’s worth mentioning that most people will want to know how much the work will cost them and will want to compare quotes before making a decision.
Social media combines all of the above in the same place, in a simple and effective manner.
Having said that, it’s also important that you ask yourself whether or not social media is for you. Can your business actually benefit from it? You should do it for the right reasons, not simply because everyone else is doing it. Service-based sectors tend to do really well on social media, and they use it as a means to reach consumers. If your customer base is not on social media, then it will likely be a waste of time to invest in it.
The Best Platform for Your Business
In order to start using social media to your advantage, consider which channel will be best-suited for you and your business. Who is using Facebook? What about Twitter or LinkedIn? For instance, more women use Pinterest than men, and LinkedIn is great for B2B companies. It’s important that you know who your target audience is so that you can make the right decision.
If your business is highly visual, Instagram or Pinterest may be the better options, as these platforms rely mostly on pictures and videos. Therefore, keeping in mind the type of business you’re running is also crucial.
By November 2018, the age group with the highest number of Facebook users in the UK was 20 to 29-year-olds; 5.3 million users were female and 5.4 million were male. By 2021, the number of users is estimated to rise to 41.37 million.
Instagram’s monthly users rose to 700 million in 2017 around the world; this is quickly becoming the preferred platform for a younger audience, with 18 to 34-year-olds accounting for 61% of all users. This platform has been introducing new dynamic marketing features, which has made it grow in popularity among contractors. In 2018, 48% of UK contractors were on Instagram.
Not every business invests in Twitter, preferring to focus on Facebook instead, since the latter is still in the lead when it comes to the number of active users. However, in the UK, the number of people using Twitter is set to increase to 13.2 million by 2021 – this network, therefore, should not be underestimated.
LinkedIn is considered the best platform for both businesses and professionals and, after hitting a billion global users in April 2017, it’s clear this is a key channel to promote your business, as well.
Take a Peek at Your Competitors
One of the most important benefits of using social media is that it allows you to get an insight into what the competition is doing. Are they offering a service you’re not? Do they engage often with their followers? Do they do giveaways or competitions? You can improve your social media presence by keeping up with their accounts and taking hints from what they’re doing.
There are several ways to go about it. For instance, following, liking and subscribing to your competitors’ channels allows you to see the content they’re sharing, how they’re promoting themselves and how they’re building their brand. Take note of things such as the topics and subjects they’re discussing, the audience they’re targeting, the tone of voice they use and the pages they engage with.
Once you get this information, knowing what to do with it is just as important. What you always need to keep in mind is finding a way to be different from the competition. Now that you’ve seen what they do (and what is and isn’t working), generate unique and engaging content that will make people want to follow you.
Don’t copy your competitors’ content or marketing strategies – be inspired by them. This information will help you to forge relationships with others, be it the competition, potential partnerships or existing and potential customers.
Many contractors believe that all marketing efforts should immediately impact sales. However, social media is a different animal. Building relationships is a lot more important than trying to get sales, especially because that would drive away your audience – people know when they’re being sold to. Long-term customers will have a more meaningful impact on your business than people who simply make a purchase and never come back. But to obtain a following of engaged customers, it’s necessary to put in the time and energy to earn their trust.
Don’t go after quantity; it’s better to have a few engaged clients than thousands of followers who aren’t sure why they followed you in the first place. Reply to comments and questions in a genuine way, give a voice to customers by allowing them to air their grievances (and respond to them in a professional manner), be transparent and authentic, and provide great customer service.
Showing you care about your clients and their feedback will go a long way toward building long-lasting relationships. A positive side effect of building a loyal customer base is increased brand loyalty.
Show Everyone Your Skills
Social media gives you the perfect medium to showcase what you and your business can do. Identify your strengths and don’t forget about your USP. Having a unique selling point can help you to offer services to clients that no one else can. Whether you’re sharing articles you’ve written on a specific subject or answering questions on Twitter, putting your knowledge base on display will maximise your exposure and allow others to see what you can do for them.
Improve Your R&D
How can you be sure that you’re creating and offering products or services that your customers are actually looking for? Traditionally, businesses had to rely on focus groups and surveys to learn more about what their clientele wanted; with the rise of social media, obtaining data that can help your research and development is as easy as checking out what your customers are saying.
You can learn more about your audience without having to make assumptions and hope for the best. You can also crowdsource new ideas. People love giving suggestions and opinions and, while you can’t act on everything, you can take some of the ideas and develop them into a product or service.
Top Tips to Growing Your Social Media Platform
A one-size-fits-all platform doesn’t exist. Different channels will allow you to market yourself in different ways. They also offer a variety of benefits. For example, Instagram is great for brand awareness and growth, while Facebook makes it easy to connect with others. Below, you can find some tips on how to best utilise different platforms to your advantage:
Facebook remains the most popular platform, with 86% of small businesses preferring it above others. Because of this and the features it offers, Facebook is great for building relationships, since it allows you to easily connect to people you know (and to the people they know). Most individuals who connect with you have heard of your business and chosen to follow you, because they liked what they found.
To best utilise this network, make sure you’re sharing posts with helpful and engaging content, in order to create trust and relevancy. Because Facebook allows you to share real-time updates on work, you can easily do live videos, list your services, allow reviews of products, and more. Additionally, you can find out what interests your community and post relevant content to increase engagement.
Twitter is a fast-paced platform. Posting once a day is often not enough to break through the noise and stand out. Your posting frequency should be at least three times a day. However, Twitter is an incredibly useful channel for connecting to potential clients, starting conversations and finding out the most researched keywords by people in your sector of business.
Follow individuals, companies and businesses, share links to content you created, re-tweet other users’ useful posts and share photos of your products or behind-the-scenes moments. As a contractor or locum, being able to post special offers and prices, as well as news of upcoming events or product launches, is incredibly helpful in growing your business.
This channel is great for anyone seeking to share photos or videos of their work – an image is worth a thousand words, and Instagram has the ability to help contractors show it. Some people express themselves better with visuals, and you have the chance to tell the story of your brand this way. Another benefit is that it helps you to distinguish yourself from your competitors by making posts unique to your business.
You can follow people, post before-and-afters and showcase how people are using your products. You also have the opportunity to build relationships with people or companies even after the sale. Instagram is great for growing a brand, because users tend to interact more with companies on this network, compared to other channels. So, make sure you’re using it to its full potential. Explore all of the features Instagram offers and interact with your audience.
Whether you’re a freelancer, contractor or locum, you can benefit from LinkedIn. One of the most obvious advantages of using this platform is that it allows you to easily showcase what you can do, as well as your skills.
And if you want to connect with other professionals or business owners in your sector, this network is the best choice. If you’re looking for work or advertising a job, LinkedIn can help you to achieve your goal by allowing you to join groups, create a company page for your business, participate in discussions and so much more.
To best use LinkedIn, ensure that you have filled out all of the relevant sections, such as education and previous jobs, which allows people to find you more easily. Add a profile picture too; it doesn’t have to be your photo, though photos tend to do better. You can upload any other image, as long as it’s professional. The key is to have people associate your brand and page with a specific image, so that they can remember and recall who you are.
Other key features of this network include the ability to request and display recommendations, join groups with similar interests and share relevant content with them, publish articles on LinkedIn Pulse (the channel’s blogging platform), and connect with potential clients and other contractors.
Social media makes it easier for customers to find you – and for you to show off your work and skills. As you expand your customer base and your business, you may require the services of contractor accounts or locum accountants. If that’s the case, we can meet all of your accountancy needs; let us know if you have any questions, and we’ll be happy to assist.