9 Social Media Tips for Freelancers from Columbia’s Sree Sreenivasan

By Tim Sohn 

Sree Sreenivasan at ASJA 2013

Columbia University’s first chief digital officer Sree Sreenivasan @sree provided a slew of social media advice to freelancers at ASJA 2013.

Here are just a few of his tips:

1. Include a short slug line at the beginning of all tweets that’s followed by a colon.

For example:

2. Connect with people before you need them. “Now, we have something magical where you can reach out to somebody when you don’t need them,” said Sreenivasan. “Don’t let the first time someone hears from you be an ask. I tell people, don’t be an ask on social media.”

3. Always be collecting photos of things you see around you with smartphones and tablets, but only share as appropriate. The New York Times’ Ari Goldman taught Sreenivasan that “your camera is a great notebook.”

4. Be findable: put your email address on your social media profiles, and include an amazing photo.

5. Don’t be afraid to stand up and get close to take a picture. “We should all be semi-obnoxious when it comes to social media,” said Sreenivasan. “I said semi.”

6. Be an early tester and late adopter of technology.

7. Make your archives relevant now on social media.

8. Number of followers is not important.

9. Use a Twitter handle that will last a lifetime
. Sreenivasan said first lady Michelle Obama’s staff created her Twitter account @FLOTUS, but she will not always be the first lady of the United States. “It’s a total disaster of a Twitter handle. Her staff failed her,” he said. “She’s going to retire in three-and-a-half years a very young woman.”

ASJA 2013

Sree Sreenivasan, chief digital officer at Columbia University, had ASJA 2013 attendees tweeting, posting on Facebook and taking photos during his workshop on social media. Photos by Tim Sohn.

Sreenivasan recommended following on Twitter: Gianni Riotta @riotta, who has more than 120,000 followers; Sal Khan @salkhanacademy, the founder of Khan Academy; Franz Strasser @FranzStrasser, who was hired by the BBC to explain America to the world; Elizabeth Stewart @efstewart, social media manager at Kramerbooks in Washington D.C.; CJ Chivers @cjchivers, senior writer at The New York Times; Ben Smith @BuzzfeedBen, editor of BuzzFeed; Evan Williams @ev and Jack Dorsey @jack, co-founders of Twitter; and the late Roger Ebert @ebertchicago, among others.

Ebert “literally found a new voice on Twitter,” Sreenivasan said.

Sreenivasan can be found on Facebook at Facebook.com/sreenetTwitter.com/sree, and check out his presentation at Bit.ly/sreeslides.

Readers, how many of Sreenivasan’s social media tips do you follow? Let us know in the comments below.