Have you come to terms with the fact that social media is the hamster’s wheel, both in the effort you (the hamster) have to make and the weakness of the results earned? Yet each day we get back on.
Please… Don’t ask me to count the number of times in a day where I open Facebook to go post something, see my notifications and click through each one before closing the app, only then remembering why I’d opened it in the first place.
Right now, for a lot (a LOT) of small businesses, social media is not really working, if at all. If you’re the exception, good. I hope it lasts for you.
These apocalyptical engagement results on social media are actually to be expected, normal even. More and more businesses want to promote themselves on these platforms, while marketing space on them is being reduced so as not to alienate membership.
“HURRAY! MORE ADS!” -No one, not ever, not anywhere.
I mean, think about it. Do you prefer to watch a show on Netflix (Hulu, Disney+, to name just a few) or on cable? Is your answer at all influenced by the number of ads you have to watch on cable tv? There you go. We go to [insert social media platform of your choice] to know what’s going on with family and friends, to fight with strangers under a news article, to complain about the neighbour mowing the grass or shoveling the snow at the wrong time, and to share memes… not to see ads. And sorry to say but your most interesting and useful content counts as advertising because you’re creating it to promote your business.
Not too long ago, posting on [insert social media platform of your choice] was like magic. If you made a cute post, the next 5 would benefit from its lift. If you put $20 in ads, you were sure to make $200. Now? Not so much.
AND IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT! Let me repeat myself: more and more businesses are fighting for the same limited amount of magic. If you prefer Netflix to cable tv because there are no ad breaks on Netflix, you’ll also prefer [insert social media platform of your choice] when it has less ads, and the people at [insert social media platform of your choice] want you to stay… so they’ll give that limited ad space to the highest bidder.
Each and ever one of us at the head of a solo or small business believe our content is different from that of large chains, clothing brands or restaurants… but for people scrolling the feed and for the algorithm, marketing is marketing.
SO MANY PLATFORMS, SO MANY CHANGES
If it were only that. But nope. On top of the magic we have to share with too many players, we also have to stay on top of changes to the algorithm, and of all the trending new platforms. It’s impossible for a single person to do it all, and to do it all well, even if that person were to put all her efforts into social media. We can only burn ourselves out if we try.
In my collective and in other networking groups, eventually every single person gets discouraged by social media. We take time off, we limit ourselves to posting when its convenient to us… but the dopamine hit when a piece of content sorta works has us hopping back on the wheel. It’s built into the app. You can’t really escape it unless you delete it and even then.
YA GOTTA DO WHAT YA GOTTA DO
Let’s face it. Not doing social media is not an option if we want people to find out about us. I sincerely believe that we have the option of using it for our benefit and mental well-being rather than to line billionnaires’ pockets.
Here is what I believe we should be doing: we should be focusing ALL our social media energy on one or two (maybe three, if we’re pushing) social media platforms weenjoy and where we know our clients are. Use them to bring people to OUR platforms (newsletter first, website next – I’ll explain why in a moment).
It’s very easy, especially if social media has been working for you, to sit on that success. I mean, even when its not working we keep at it… I promise you though, at some point every platform you use that is not yours will leave you hanging: the algorithm or rules will change or a function you rely on will be removed, etc.
The goal of advertising has always been to bring people to your location. That’s it. No one is spending thousands of dollars in advertising on cable tv for people to keep watching cable tv. They’re spending thousands of dollars in advertising on cable tv so people will get up, drive to their location, and spend all their money.
That’s the part we’ve stopped doing (in part because the algorithm was penalizing us for external links, but well… you’re also being penalized in their absence).
As often as possible, your CALL TO ACTION on [insert social media of your choice] should be present (I mean, so many people don’t even tell their audience what to do) and should be: come see this on my website, sign up to my newsletter, buy my product. Rinse and repeat. Remember 1. People are not responsible for bringing you success. 2. People have the memory of a goldfish.
BRING IT HOME
We want our audience to come to our home.
Earlier I said “newsletter first, website next”.
That’s because a person only has to sign up to your newsletter once to receive each one. Get them used to receiving quality content from you and they will open each email you send.
Your website visits are almost all one-offs that you get via search or retargeting campaigns. Very few visits are organic (by organic I mean that its unlikely that a person woke up wondering what I’d been up to before going to my website to see if I’d added anything).
I’m going to repeat this point once more, because it’s the essence of this loooong post. You’re creating content so that people will come to your business and spend all their money. You’re not creating content so that they’ll scroll past and stay on [insert social media of your choice].
Not only do we have to keep that in mind, but we also have to act accordingly.