The first question you should ask yourself after having decided which platforms you will use for your social media marketing is: should I use a personal account type or a business one? There are different factors to this, yet, I think there are certain indicators for freelancers that can guide an informed decision. So here we go:
Which platforms offer business pages, personal profiles or accounts - and what's the difference?
In this article, we will focus on the 4 biggest social networks, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. All of these can be relevant for freelancers, depending on their content strategy and marketing objective.
Facebook offers personal accounts / profiles as well as business pages. A business pages does not allow you to have „friends“, but „followers“. Each page needs to be linked to a personal profile – hence, there is no page without a personal account, no matter if you would like to have one or not. While personal acounts can be access-limited, pages are publicly accessible. With a Facebook page, you can also contribute to conversations taking place in groups. Your followers get a good overview of your content on your page. You can decide to use a personal account in a business-way, by using your brand’s name and logo. However, this approach is not advisable, as your target group probably does not want to be actual „friends“ with you – because Facebook „friends“ relations are two-directional. If you befriend somebody, they can see your info and posts, and you can see theirs. Many followers, however, will prefer to follow you and not disclose their account to you.
LinkedIn also offers personal accounts as well as business pages. Pages allow for less personal information, such as past jobs and education, and are indeed only advisable for companies, not for freelancers. You can nonetheless decide to give your personal account a very professional touch, as this is expected at a professional social platform like LinkedIn. You can use your brand’s logo as a cover picture and include it in your account name. Nonetheless, particularly freelancers should never hide the fact that they are a one-(wo)man-show. Having a personal, yet professional profile picture is attractive and relatable for your contacts.
Twitter is a fast-paced social network where you quickly get lost in your own bubble – which can be positive and negative. Twitter is a place that is increasingly used for professional exchange among experts. As Twitter does not make a design differentiation between business and personal profiles, some freelancers decide to create an account for their brand using only their brand name and logo. However, on Twitter, personal exchange at eye-level is vital. These kind of „fake“ business profiles tend to be much less successful than personal ones. Ask yourself: would you rather follow Elon Musk or Tesla? There is a reason for why it’s called social marketing, so keep this in mind. A mix of personal and professional that shows who you are as a freelancer without hiding behind your brand is advisable.
Instagram is the most personal of the four presented networks. On Instagram, we expect to see pretty pictures and real-life stories about actual people. That’s why brand accounts, particularly for freelancers, have more trouble gaining large outreach than personal accounts (influencer marketing was invented for a reason). Be your own influencer and show the personal touch of your freelance business. On Instagram, for your followers, there is not a major, visual difference between a personal and a professional account. Yet, professional accounts have more insight into the performance of their posts and into their followers. However, keep in mind that business accounts on Instagram require a Facebook page.
How do I know what's best for me?
As always in social media marketing, keep in mind what you intend to achieve. Are you looking for B2B or B2C conversations? Do you want to be in close touch with your followers or keep your marketing strategy rather one-directional? Do you want to be seen as a brand rather than an approachable freelancer? Also consider using different strategies for different networks: while you are personally exchanging views and opinions on industry issues on Twitter, you present your brand on a business page on Facebook. Also, keep in mind that a personal profile is not necessarily personal – it’s still up to you how much personal information you share on your accounts. Particularly as a freelancer, you can decide that you want to promote yourself and your services at a personal level without exposing your private life.
Want to appear approachable on Instagram and also share some personal insights, but keep some pictures to yourself and your friends from real-life? Make use of the „Close Friends“ setting in stories and share some pictures only with the people on your Close Friends List. You can also make use of this list for marketing purposes, e.g. share exclusive content with your recent followers by regularly adapting your list.