By Rachel Frederick
Social media can be an incredible form of marketing—and this is not news. It has the potential to reach a large audience, it’s mostly free, and it’s a great way to enhance your brand. Yet it’s so easy to get caught up in the “posting roller coaster” without any real clarity around whom you’re posting for and why they’re following you in the first place.
If you’re struggling to get the conversions you think you should be getting, a lack of clarity and focus is likely the biggest reason why.
What if we start thinking of social media not as marketing, but instead as “maintenance marketing?” As in, social media is most successful when it supports what you’re already doing outside of the platform. Social media will never stand on its own as a marketing tactic. While an interesting post or two might attract followers and a few likes and comments, focused branding, consistent messaging, and a predictable posting schedule is what retains them. In other words, branding is step one, content is step two, and social media is step three.
Start with a solid foundation, position yourself as an expert, and then promote what makes you amazing. I’m guessing this is not the first time you’ve heard that you need to build a solid foundation, and that if you’re missing that foundation, social media has very little chance of helping with your profit margins. Yet so many brands are posting just to post without a content strategy to back it up.
If you don’t have a story to tell, content to promote, testimonials to share, or a business promise worth shouting about, social media won’t help you much in the long run. Let’s back up for a moment, shall we?
Who are you?
Within moments of landing on your Instagram feed, Facebook page, or LinkedIn profile, your visitors should be able to tell who you are. They should be able to tell what you do and why you do it. If they can’t, they won’t stick around for very long. First, find your story, then use imagery, quotes, fonts, and colors to back it up.
So many small businesses are focused on keeping up with their competition that they fall into the shadows. They become followers instead of leaders. Find your story. Find your voice. Find your brand. There is a reason why authenticity is so overplayed right now—it’s a very real, very usable marketing tactic.
Who are your customers?
If you have a brick-and-mortar business, your core audience is most likely within a five to 15 mile radius of your location. This means that shouting about your amazing cupcakes across all of social media may not be the best use of your time.
Your audience is closer than you think and they’re already paying attention. Don’t get caught stressing about finding thousands of followers when 300 loyal, local ones will serve you just fine. In other words, don’t spend time and money promoting your products and services to Los Angeles when your customers are in Chicago.
The same concept applies to online businesses. Because you have a more widespread audience, it’s crucial that you get super focused on your niche market. If you want to make a lasting impact on your customers and clients, write every blog post, every podcast script, and every email as if you are talking to one single person.
Who is your perfect customer? How much money do they make? What is their family status? What types of hobbies do they have? Create an ideal avatar and market to them. You’ll be amazed at the clarity that starts to come into your marketing efforts.
What happens after you promote your content?
Unless you have a customer journey mapped out, social media will not bring you the leads you need to make a sale. It happens time and time again where businesses post similar content day after day after day.
What is a customer journey? It’s the plan you create to get people off social media and on to your website, or into your store. Likes are not conversions and content is rarely a direct sell to a cold audience.
- Focus on providing value with your content so you become a notable resource.
- Tell your business story so people begin to like and trust you.
- Give more than you ask, but don’t forget to make the ask. Once people like and trust you, they’ll expect the sales pitch—this is your chance!
Without a clear, defined customer path, from brand awareness to asking for the sale, social media will be a large waste of your time.
Are the job demands worth the outcome?
With the 24/7 accessibility of social media, it’s increasingly common for businesses to fall into the trap of making themselves available 24 hours a day. Set expectations upfront that you are a) A real person, and b) have a life outside of your business.
While it’s not uncommon to have one person watching social media accounts 24 hours a day, no one should be asked to give up their entire life for these free advertising platforms. It’s important to give yourself—and your employees—time to rest, unplug, and get away from work once in a while.
As a business owner, make sure you’re setting reasonable expectations and keeping an eye out for any burnout. This is true for both yourself and your employees. More importantly, make sure the outcome justifies the action. What are the metrics by which you measure a successful social media campaign? Do you need to post multiple times a day on multiple platforms? Probably not.
The good news is, marketing continues to consistently be about two things: building relationships and solving problems. How do you make people feel and how are you serving them? If you build your business around these two concepts and use social media to maintain expectations and maintain the life of the amazing work you’re already doing, you’ll find incredible success.
Can you build relationships on social media? Sure. Can you gain a following? Yes. Is social media a useful part of a modern comprehensive marketing strategy? Absolutely. Do you need to post several times a day on multiple platforms in order to make a difference in the world? I’ll leave that up to you.