If you’re a web designer and you’re NOT using social media to help you in your work, then all I can do is direct you to 2002, because that’s where your workflow lives. Your competitors, co-workers and clients are all using social media, which means if you’re not, you’re getting left behind. Social media isn’t just a time waster, and it’s not just Facebook and Twitter – there are many different ways a designer can use it to advance his or her career. Here are six ways you could be using social media to help your grow your design career.
1)Promote Your Work
– This is probably the way most creative types would think of using social media, whether it’s tweeting about a new client’s page that just went live or sharing a link to the guest post you wrote for your favorite design blog. However, there are also a few designer-specific social media platforms out there that aren’t cluttered with sponsored tweets and e-book offers just yet. Most designers know about the Digg-like sites such as DesignBump.com or WPVote.com, but there’s more out there. There are communities like Coroflot and deviantART where you can share your portfolio and get feedback, but there’s even more still. For instance, Dribble.com is like crowdsourcing site/Twitter for designers – a site where you can share small snapshots of your designs for comment and assessment by your fellow designers. Whatever platform you use, social media has changed the way we share, promote and often improve our work.
– You’ve probably got an online portfolio – yourname.com, perhaps – and it probably links to and has screenshots of all the work you’ve done. If you really want to benefit from being online, though, you should definitely add a blog to that site. A blog will help in several ways – it can be a platform for quick comments about breaking tech/design news, sharing links or workshopping designs. More than that, it can help your work and name get found online. By creating unique content and updating it regularly, your portfolio will reap the SEO benefits and more potential clients, when looking online for a designer, will come your way. Moreover, a blog can serve as your base of operations on the web, providing a regularly-updated home to direct your legions of fans back to.
3)Location, Location, Location
– We all have friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter who won’t stop with their Foursquare checkins. But what if you used those checkins for good rather than to show that you go to the same bar every night? Alert your followers when you go to the museum or the art supply store or, better yet, include your friends and followers by making a design, art or architecture-themed scavenger hunt on Foursquare or Gowalla. Here’s a free idea – most cities these days have an artwalk of some sort. Create a Facebook group that details a list of checkin stops on the way to and all around the artwalk. Set up some teams and check in using Foursquare, and tweet pictures to other teams of your team checking in before everyone one. Then share the photos of the entire group celebrating a successfully-launched new tradition on that Facebook group and watch more people clamor to get involved next time. I just made that up. See? Using tools with location capabilities can help show that you use your creativity not only in your work, but in your life as well.
– Just stop resisting already and round out your social media profiles. Definitely create “the big three” – Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are extremely useful tools for finding work, sharing information and connecting with colleagues and clients alike. If privacy is what you’re worried about, then limit the amount of information you share to non-personal topics, but get out there. As someone who’s trying to exist online, you need to be able to show that you understand these technologies better than the average bear. You need to know that LinkedIn is best for networking and looking for work opportunities, how to create a Facebook group or FanPage, and how to put together a targeted Twitter list. You should be doing these things anyway, but if you can prove to a client that you have more than just a casual knowledge of the major platforms, you’ll be ahead of the game. Which brings me to…
5)Add Value With Social Media
– If you DO enjoy social media and can interact with people through a variety of channels, then why not add value to your existing services by designing a custom Facebook page or teaching your client how to tweet more effectively? Companies large and small are out there right now, trying to figure out the best ways to utilize these exciting new tools. If it comes down to you and another designer, don’t you think a smart client who wants to start leveraging social media will choose the designer who seems to get it and can help implement some policies and practices?
6)The Real World
– Social media is great for connecting online, but it’s just as useful for networking in the real world. If you live in a decent-sized city, then chances are there’s a group of tech professionals getting together to discuss business. There are meet-ups of social media professionals, designers and developers, WordPress fans, bloggers – if you can imagine a group of people, then they’re probably getting together to talk shop. That’s not even mentioning the more regular events that spread the word to new members via social media. Try this: go to Twitter and search for some combination of “tweetup” and “web design. Chances are you’ll find a Twitter list or Facebook group you can join so you won’t have to kick yourself when you miss another chance to meet the guy who could have given you your next design job.
About the Author:
Blue Derkin is a Social Media / Project lead at web hosting company InMotion Hosting. You can follow him on Twitter @WHHG_InMotion