When you work as a freelancer the latest developments in social media are as natural as the TV remote control. Or so the myth goes; that we tweet relentlessly, sit in coffee shops poring over our wi-fi enabled laptops and could work up a mountain thanks to our iphones.

This is all rubbish of course.

The expectation is that somehow, by virtue of working freelance, you know all about the latest developments. The reality is that we work in isolation and could be blithely unaware of latest developments unless we make a concerted effort to keep our skills brushed up and find out how our clients prefer to work. This can be a minefield in itself. Do they want hard copies marked up with proofing symbols in time honoured fashion? Or pdfs marked up on screen and emailed back?

The theory is that we have a wealth of tools at our disposal to help us navigate through the hazards of the freelancing world. Like social media.  But the use of social media to promote or sell is unclear.

Twitter being the prime example. Hailed as breaking down the barriers in networking, Twitter has so far failed to live up to expectations in terms of helping freelancers across the globe keep up-to-speed with what’s going on in their chosen field. A short term study by Pear Analytics  has found that 40% of tweets are pointless babble, with only 8.7% believed to have ‘value’ in that they passed along news of interest. Like Megan Fox being billed to be the new Cat Woman. And endless witticisms about popular culture buried in impenetrable tweet speak – a phenomenon more complex than the evils of text speak and even more lacking in logic and punctuation.

Twitter does have its uses – instant messaging for one, but the reality is that it’s not as useful a tool, or wide-reaching a net for keeping in touch with what’s going on in world as you’d think. Unless you follow thousands of people.  And then you’d actually need to sift through the babble and pull out the useful information. Which may take you days, during which time the whole crazy circus has gone full circle several times and you’re right back where you started.

Social media can be fun and can direct people to your website or blog. But it also eats heavily into time.

As can all the other toys that we use to help us multitask (i.e. doing several things at once, badly). Is our obsession with constantly telling everyone what we’re doing at all times (dedicated tweeters take pause here before you post that right now, at 4pm you’re eating a really nice cheese sandwich) and how busy we are just a way of distracting us and taking us away from the things we should be doing?


Hmmm… best get back to work then…