In 2020, people used TikTok for just 38.6 minutes each day.
In 2021, it grew to 44 daily minutes per user. It may not sound a lot but TikTok surpassed Facebook and Instagram and it seems nobody expected it. Social media growth like this is almost always unpredictable. One day, Facebook is reigning and the next, another platform could be attracting millions of people.
Does this mean every freelancer should be on all social media platforms? No. It’s not advisable and frankly, if you try, you’ll likely get overwhelmed. However, you must educate yourself about the 2023 social media trends in personal branding.
Every freelancer’s business is anchored on personal branding. If you don’t put enough effort into it, business growth will be slow. You don’t have to be a pro on personal branding or social media, but these trends are worth checking out.
Personal branding meets the new social media standard
Back in the day, memes and fun stuff used to rule every social media platform. We all wanted to have a laugh, and we still do. But today, consumers are more drawn to posts with substance. Those that are not just copied from another person or inspired by some thought leadership guru, but posts that carry weight. People want integrity and authenticity and these two must be present in all your personal branding efforts. Because it’s not just the consumers and fellow social media users hungry for these, the algorithm is paying attention to it too.
Reels, reels, and more reels (and videos)
If you’re not a fan of Instagram becoming a video-heavy platform, it’s time to adjust that feeling. Or, move to another platform you’re more comfortable with. In 2021, IG’s head Adam Mosseri said the platform is no longer a photo-sharing app. They decided to focus on becoming like TikTok where short videos and Reels are kings and queens.
As a freelancer, building your personal brand on Instagram is a bright idea given that we’re a highly visual society. We want to see and watch, not just read. But if you take on this path, focus on Reels. Up your video game. Play with different apps to create short videos that will help build your brand’s name so people will remember you. Keep things in line with your personality. Be sure to show your face from time to time. Short videos and reels are not just for insightful content, but for your face too! Show people and companies who is behind your brand.
Get close to mother nature
This may not sound relevant but people are projected to be more drawn to sustainability and environmentally-driven posts. As a freelancer, you’re not expected to be in this exact realm. After all, buzzwords like “zero-waste” and “sustainability” are not always easy to inject in a freelancer’s personal brand.
One way to ride on this trend is by hitting it visually. Consider images and Reels that are heavy in earth tones. Greens and browns and the shades in between can greatly help make your brand feel like it’s connected to sustainability.
Social search on the rise
Hashtags used to be a thing, and still are. But this time, they’re not just a catchphrase people click on to see who else uses it and for what type of posts. This time, people input them on search bars. They know their favorite hashtags, they know which hashtags are relevant, and what other phrases matter. The use of search box will continue to rise in 2023, so you might as well take advantage of this when building your personal brand as a freelancer.
Don’t just throw in some hashtags. Don’t just use phrases you think other freelancers of your kind also use. Produce content so great people will type your brand name in the search bar. They don’t need a hashtag, they know your brand name by heart. And by people, I mean potential clients!
Online events and Q&As
Again and again, your community needs to see who is behind the brand. Whether you’re a freelance web designer or a coach or a personal finance writer, gear up for lots of exposure in 2023. Personal brands won’t be as solid as they can be if you choose to hide behind your brand name or pretty Canva-edited posts. They’re nice, sure! But you could do better than that!
Freelancers are naturally creative people and if you’re comfortable having your face in front of the camera, there are creative ways to do Q&As and other online events. Maybe go live but point the camera to something relevant like your home office with your cat on the ergonomic chair. Maybe explore other ways of creating visuals like using a whiteboard. Your voice can do wonders in terms of showing people there’s a real human behind this brand. That’s what we’re aiming for here. Not everyone is a fan of the camera but there are creative ways to play with it. Go play.
A brand will grow more quickly if your community interacts with each other. Think exchange of comments and light conversations. Gone are the days when brands focus on influencers. And for personal brands, gone are the days when freelancers are focused on building that persona only. Next year is the year of communities.
So when you create that social media strategy for your personal brand, ask yourself, “will this encourage my community to interact with each other, or will this just tell them who I am and what I’m about?” If your strategy is leaning towards the latter, consider rethinking things. Go for content that will bind your audience together.
Solid visuals with substance
It goes without saying that social media demands solid visuals. In 2023, solid visuals require more substance. Creative images are not enough. Your posts, be it photos or videos, should have substance. They should be insightful or else people will forget about you. Potential clients won’t take note of you, freelance collaborators won’t remember you. Maximize solid visuals as much as you can.
Online shopping integration
Just because you’re selling services doesn’t mean you cannot use the online shopping integration available in various platforms. If you’re like most people, you probably shopped online during the pandemic. For most people, that shopping happened on social media.
Get creative and explore ways you can integrate your services into your social media. Make it easier for potential brands and clients to discover more information about your services, especially the prices and scope. Imagine you’re a product-based brand selling items on social media, but in your case as a creative entrepreneur, you’re selling services. You’re selling content writing services and graphic design and logos. Who says you cannot integrate these on social media through posts and ads? Go have fun!
Social media can be confusing. It’s not for everybody and in some cases, it requires a learning curve. But it can also be fun if you let it be. Your personal brand and how solid it is depends on how to maximize the power of social media. Follow relevant people, follow creative entrepreneurs and freelancers. Get inspired and don’t be afraid to break the rules.