Twitter is huge. There are hundreds of millions of active accounts, although probably most of them are spam or bots. Still, there are tens of millions of real people and companies on Twitter and there are loads of good projects getting shared on Twitter if you know where to look.
How we handle Twitter
Here at Everleads, we monitor Twitter for hundreds of keywords and phrases to find the best freelance gigs. As you might expect, that brings in a lot of posts, most of which are pure garbage and need to be filtered out. There’s a lot of retweets and spammy aggregators reposting jobs with fake accounts, like this one from IT Job Pro (IT Job Pro has thousands of these fake bot accounts, many of which pretend to be actual people—gross!)
But we comb through it every day to bring you stuff like this:
We don’t know exactly what “small project” means in this case, but otherwise this looks pretty good. So this is a good example of the type of Twitter freelance lead that we want to teach you how to handle best.
By the way, often Twitter posts are from other sources that we already monitor, and they’ll have a link to an original job post, like this:
In cases like this, we’ll give you the original job post, so you’ll never even see the link to Twitter in your daily leads email. And we’ll de-dupe everything so instead of seeing dozens of tweets and blog posts and aggregator posts about the same position, we’ll send you the original post if at all possible.
So once you have a Twitter post about a freelance gig, here’s what to do.
Clean up your profile
First, if you’re going to be responding to things on Twitter, you’ll need a Twitter profile. If you don’t already have one, go ahead and sign up, fill out the basic fields for photo, name, location, etc. In your bio, include the kind of work you do and a link to your website or portfolio.
Don’t post a bunch of stuff just to fill up your feed, since it’ll be obvious everything was posted a few minutes ago. But if you do want to keep using Twitter, post a few updates and share some links over the next few weeks.
If you do have a Twitter account already, make sure that it’s a good fit for what you’ll be applying to. That doesn’t mean it needs to be all about business or your skills, but if it’s filled with photos of you at drunken parties, a potential client might think twice about hiring you.
There’s no limit to the number of accounts you can have, so if you have more than a few posts you need to clean up to appear presentable, just sign up for another account to use to reply to jobs.
Finally, responding with an account that’s not perfect is better than not responding at all. Don’t wait to respond to things until you have all this done and figured out, or you might wait forever. Just start responding and adjust as you go.
How to evaluate
As mentioned above, we do our best to filter out all of the below from the thousands of Twitter posts every day across the keywords we monitor:
- International jobs
- Onsite jobs
- Full-time jobs
- Tweets that mention no pay, or low pay
- Tweets with tons of responses already
However, we’re not perfect, so you should do a cursory examination yourself to get a sense of what you’re dealing with.
Scan the user’s photo, name, location, and bio fields. You’re just trying to get a sense of whether it seems like a real account, how long it’s been around, how active they are, whether they have a photo that looks real, etc.
Again, look at this user’s account:
Now look at a bot account:
Pretty obvious that this isn’t a real “HR exec” who has posted 107,000 tweets in the last four years (about 75 per day).
Another thing you can do is just scroll through the most recent 10-20 tweets on their profile. If they have a weird mix of personal and professional stuff, sports things, politics, funny memes, etc, then they’re probably legit. If it’s just a bunch of links to job boards posted every few minutes, it’s a spam bot.
You also want to get a sense of whether they’re in the US or elsewhere in the world. Don’t be afraid to respond to posts no matter where they are, but you’re unlikely to have much luck getting jobs in other countries, especially if you’re in an high-development (read: expensive) country and the job is in a developing country. People in Egypt or Nigeria hire lots of freelancers, but they don’t generally pay US or Canadian rates!
How to respond
Email is best
Email is the best channel to respond, so in the rare case where they provide an email address, use it!
The most common scenario is that they’ll either ask you to DM (direct message) them, or they won’t specify a method.
By default, you can’t send a direct message to someone unless they’re following you. Some users have changed their settings to allow direct messages from anyone, but this is rare. If they’ve allowed that, you can click the “more options” menu on their profile and send a direct message:
Keep in mind that the Twitter interface changes over time, and may be different on different devices like their mobile apps, so you may have to hunt around a bit to find this option.
Additionally, messages from people you do not follow show up in a different part of Twitter, so they’re easy to miss. For this reason, if you DM them, you also need to leave a public reply letting them know you sent them a DM. More on this in a minute.
If they asked you to DM and they don’t have their DMs open, you’ll need to leave them a public comment instead. You’ll also need to either open up your DMs or follow them if you want them to DM you in response. This is only if you weren’t able to DM them, since they can respond to your DMs without you doing anything extra.
Hunting down their contact info
If they don’t have their DMs open, you should leave a public reply to their tweet, but before you do that, try and see if you can hunt down their contact info. It’s often easier than you’d think. Look at their bio link and see if they have a website that has their contact info. Google their name and see if you can find a website or LinkedIn page with direct contact info. For small companies and agencies, you can often find a jobs page on their site that lists the freelancer position. Why don’t they just link to it from their tweet? Who knows, but it happens frequently.
”And that’s why you always leave a note”
Whether you can find a direct contact method or not, you should also leave a public reply to their tweet. The purpose is two-fold:
- It alerts them that you sent something and tells them what channel to find it on (email, DM, LinkedIn message, fax, carrier pigeon, whatever) so it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.
- You never know, someone else who needs your services might see your tweet and want to hire you!
- It signals to other freelancers that you beat them to the punch on this job.
What your public reply should say
Keep it simple:
“Project sounds interesting! I do [TYPE OF WORK] and just did a great project for [IMPRESSIVE CLIENT] that you can see here: [LINK]. Sent you a [DM / email / fax] to discuss details”
This is just an example, but that’s the general idea. Give them something to click on and where to contact you to follow up.
And that’s it!