One tactic some businesses use with social media is to cultivate Twitter and Facebook followers to crowd-source ideas. This happens in some non-traditional ways when the web savvy business types get to it, and these techniques can be used be smart freelancers to get ahead in their own work.
If you use Twitter and Facebook to monitor trends in your area of expertise, you’re off to a great start. What’s the biggest complaint from users about some iPad apps? In my own particular case, I’m fascinated by what’s going on at the Times in London, where the entire newspaper has gone up behind a pay wall, and by the failures of Rupert Murdoch’s Daily to deliver a user-friendly reading experience to mobile users.
Those trends inform the decisions I have to make about issues like mobile versions of Freelance-Zone.com, the mobile needs of my clients, and due consideration for any future clients I take on who might want to hop on the iPad bandwagon.
Because I pay attention to the complaints on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere, I feel better equipped to answer someone who might ask “Why can’t we deliver Content X as an app for the iPad?” I don’t know jack about designing iPad apps, and I’m sure my clients don’t, otherwise they’d be developing them instead of asking about them.
So the first question for them is, “How much can you spend?”. The next question is “Will the end result help or hurt based on all these user complaints I’m showing you about similar bright ideas that were poorly executed?” Sadly the execution factor and the budgetary factor can be linked together in ways that don’t help the client’s blood pressure.
In a lot of cases, staying out of the early adopter game is a smarter move than rushing something into an app store that delivers poorly and fails to live up to user expectations. And that’s exactly what I can tell people based on keeping my ear to the ground, so to speak, on social media.
There are plenty of other examples of how using social media to listen and not just talk can help you get ahead. Feel free to share your own strategies in the comments section–I’d love to read how others are paying attention to the trends in their freelance spaces.