To what extent is social media pointless for business?
Ask business owners about their list of should-dos and they’ll tell you that right near the top is social media. Well I’m hear to relieve you of your guilt: for most solopreneurs and small businesses, social media is a huge waste of time.
To find out why, follow me on Twitter. Kidding. But really, the purpose of marketing is to be seen by, and connect with, your target market with the hope to eventually turn them into customers. It’s important to remember that there are many ways to market your business and social media is only one of them . And it’s not even the most important one.
Your time and money are finite resources: allocate accordingly. Rather than believe you have to post on Facebook, instead review all your options, evaluate where your efforts will have the greatest return, and double down there instead.
For most small business it’s not social media. Not because it isn’t an effective mode of advertising, but because most business owners are doing it wrong, which not only makes it a waste of time, but can actually hurt your brand and your business. We didn’t start posting on social media until after we built a successful business; there were just too many other, better marketing options. Once we were ready to use social media for a clear purpose, it finally made sense to allocate time and money to it.
What it looks like to do social media “wrong”:
A Puppy Was Just Rescued from A Well: Posting things unrelated to your area of expertise
Your business’ social media profiles are there to strengthen your position as an expert. To communicate and connect with fans and potential followers, it should be used to showcase your value. It is not a place to post about your new puppy or grandma’s 90th birthday (unless you are in the pet or elderly-care industries).
If you post about unrelated topics, you weaken your brand’s message. An effective brand is highly targeted in its messaging. Off topic posts water down your efforts.
Deciding which topics you do and don’t post is part of building a social media strategy.If you are a nutritional health coach and you regularly post healthy recipes, customers will start to check repeatedly to see your latest post. This engagement only strengthens overtime if you keep it up.
Be a reliable source of relevant, valuable information to elevate yourself to expert status. This long term strategy requires dedication and diligence, but promises exponential results over time.
Don’t Just Post Whenever…You…Can: Inconsistent posting
If you post to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn on an ad hoc basis, you’re telling the world that you don’t have it together. When a potential customer goes to your page to see that your last post was over a month ago, they may question whether or not you’re even still in business! Needless to say that is a horrible perception for your brand.
If you’re going to build a strategy for social media, it’s crucial to get on a schedule.
I’m Great. This is Great: Talking about yourself and what you sell
A crazy concept to remember is that social media is social. If you use it simply to pitch your services, you will end up pissing people off, ergo, it’s bad.
The best social media for your brand is to provide value for your ideal customers. Your job is to serve by creating content that will entice your clients and community to explore and engage. To build your brand’s authority you need to share authority-building information. Each post helps to achieve this and adds another layer to your brand’s perception.
Even when you share about you and your story, the post should still ultimately be about the customer. Even Kim Kardashian’s social media feed provides value: though it may seem to be simply about her, people watch because they value entertainment and aspiration.
You are obviously allowed to sell on social media, but you should only do so about 10-20% of the time. If you sell more than that, you’ll be viewed as spam and then nobody will want to follow you.
Follow Me. Like Me. Please: Posting to get sales
Like you, social media companies are there to make money. In recent years, these platforms have updated their algorithms to selectively show content to users based upon their interactions. This means that you might have thousands of followers and no likes on a post because nobody sees it!
Essentially, unless you are willing to work with a professional to develop a strategy and put money into advertising to get your posts seen, there are other, better ways to spend your time and money. The stories of “videos gone viral” should not encourage you to post aimlessly with your fingers crossed. Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.
If you are ready to do social media right, I highly suggest working with a strategist to figure out the best way to approach it. They will help to clarify what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Once you’re ready to pay for advertising it can be a huge money maker (I will share my trials and tribulations about that later).
In sum, if you don’t have a clear goal to build your brand and business through social media, you certainly won’t achieve it. And because there are so many other options for marketing, my advice is to be thoughtful and focus your efforts. And please, don’t just post on social media because you think you have to (you don’t!)
Pia is the author of Bada** Your Brand:The Impatient Entrepreneur’s Guide to Turning Expertise into Profit
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