I’m going to let you into a little secret; one that will probably shock you.
You do NOT have to be on social media to be successful and have an amazing business.
I’ll say it again: You don’t have to be using social media to find customers, connect with them, build relationships and, ultimately, sell to them.
With so many different marketing vehicles and channels out there, social media isn’t the be-all and end-all. Yes, it’s probably something you should have in your marketing toolbox, but your time and efforts should not be consumed by it.
Now you might be thinking, but everyone says I have to be on social media? And that’s with good reason because it is an amazing, omnipresent, FREE marketing tool. In fact, you might struggle to think of a situation where an entrepreneur or start-up wouldn’t use social media to their advantage.
After all, social media is one of the easiest points of entry when it comes to starting your marketing journey. It’s free to set up your accounts and you don’t need any additional, paid apps or software to be able to start utilising it. So it feels like social media has a very low risk:reward ratio.
But that’s one part of the problem I see many micro and small businesses facing when it comes to social media marketing.
Starting with marketing is like planting a new seed
You wouldn’t plant a single seed and keep staring at it for hours and days, wishing for it to grow and be fruitful immediately. You would tend to it, nourish it, and patiently wait for it to grow into a strong plant or even a tree before you start harvesting it.
You wouldn’t also plant another 20 seeds around it. And then stop paying attention to them. Letting them grow wild. There would be weeds all around and they might suffocate your seeds. And none of your individual seeds would have the space they need to breathe and grow properly, so all of them would suffer!
To grow your seed into a carrot or a fruit tree takes time, energy and effort. You will need to take care of it, water it, give it the right soil and nutrients to grow, as well as keep it away from burning the sun and occasionally weed it out.
This is a very nice metaphor for social media marketing, which will hopefully help you to see the reasons behind my thinking a bit clearer.
The bottom line is you want to do one thing at a time.
You want to strategically pick your platform, the way you pick the seeds that you want to be growing. Based on your goals and your strategy, you want to commit to the fact that it will take a couple of months, in some cases maybe even a couple of years, before you’ll see your first fully grown, ready for picking fruits.
Marketing is a long game. It takes longer than you might imagine for your efforts to really start paying off. That doesn’t mean that you won’t see some initial results immediately, but meaningful results that will support your business take time!
Do it right or don’t do it at all
If you decide that you want to do social media marketing, you must do it right.
But as I’ve said, you don’t have to do social media marketing!
In my eyes, either do it right or don’t do it at all.
Otherwise, you’ll just be wasting time, energy and valuable resources on creating something that might never bear any fruits! Your wild garden might look pretty, but it won’t bring you the crops and the results that you want.
And the same goes for your social media. It might look pretty, but if there’s no plan and strategy behind your posting, you won’t see any meaningful results that help you grow your business.
There’s another reason why I often end up talking prospects out of working with me. That’s right! I sometimes actually advise prospects that they shouldn’t work with me
Why do I do this?
I don’t do it because I wouldn’t know how to help them, or because I don’t want to help them.
I do it mainly because I know that they don’t need my help and that my services are actually not the right solution for them.
The reasons why I often talk a small business owner or a freelancer out of work working with me is because they don’t need a big team to help them with their social media marketing. They don’t need a copywriter, editor, social media manager, community manager, email expert and/or a Facebook Ads guru. For most freelancers and micro-business owners, this is way too much to handle at first.
The most important thing is to understand one or two things (marketing tactics) really, really well and have a meaningful plan in place (not necessarily a strategy which can seem very daunting and complex), but rather a focused intention with a clear idea about goals and manageable activities.
The key is to understand one or two basic principles and follow them without getting distracted by well-intended, but ultimately unhelpful tips and random ideas from people on the internet.
You don’t have to do everything you see others doing. You don’t need to be everywhere on social media and do all the things people tell you you should do. If you understand the mechanics of marketing and decide to focus on one thing, you will feel a lot less overwhelmed, a lot less confused and you will get much more meaningful results.
So where should I start with social media marketing?
If you’re a freelancer or even a small business owner, the best way to start with social media marketing is to understand one thing really well and focus your energy on making this one thing work, really well.
Pick one seed, one crop that you want to grow and learn everything you can about it.
Learn everything about this one thing to make it work well for your business and ignore all the other advice related to random tactics. You’ll find you can do it yourself quite easily, without overwhelm and anxiety!
However, the challenge is that there is so much to do. There’s so much you could be doing and people all around are telling you what you should be doing and that makes you feel overwhelmed, lost and, ultimately, you find it absolutely impossible to be able to do everything yourself, so you start outsourcing and paying people to do bits for you.
Unfortunately, outsourcing your marketing this way rarely delivers meaningful results that will help you achieve your goals.
Plenty of social media professionals I see around have only a tactical understanding of marketing and focus on detailed tips and tricks, instead of starting with a broader, deeper understanding of a client’s business and target audience. The intention to help and support others is there, but they don’t have the ability to connect the dots in a meaningful way.
And that unfortunately often leads businesses to pay hundreds of pounds a month for services they don’t need and actually don’t benefit from. In many cases, the results they’re getting from social media are not meaningful for their business.
As you might have read in my previous blog post, to be able to do social media management — which includes content planning, creation, scheduling, monitoring and can also include community management to be proactively building or relationship with audiences and communities and much more — it requires not only the right knowledge but also a pretty decent budget. And it’s simply not possible to do it well for £200 per month!
So, if you’re a small business owner or a freelancer and you’re considering outsourcing your social media marketing because you hate doing it yourself, you find it overwhelming and/or stressful, hold fire! You would be better off outsourcing financial management, admin or some of the more mundane, more easily automated tasks instead.
Marketing needs to be personal. It needs to be authentic and it needs to be YOU. And that’s something that is not easily done by an external manager or external agency — especially on a shoestring budget!
So that’s why I often talk businesses and entrepreneurs out of working with me (as their social media manager), because they don’t need me or someone like me. They simply need some strategic advice to help them see the right path for them and be empowered to enjoy doing their own marketing.
If someone really wants a social media manager, I will help them find the right one or I will give them guidelines and guidance on what to pay attention to. I’m happy to share my advice on what businesses should ask about and double-check before hiring a social media specialist.
I believe that a lot of businesses would be a lot better off learning one or two things really well and focusing on doing one or two things that come naturally to them. Focus on being authentic and play to your strengths instead of trying to do everything that other people are telling you to do.
I’m sure there are some businesses out there that could use my help and guidance with finding the right focus path for them. If that sounds like you, get in touch and we can have a no-obligation chat.
If you’re willing to do things differently, follow your head and be true to yourself, ignore what others are telling you and play to your strengths; I’d love to chat with you!
Remember, marketing doesn’t need to be laborious. You need to have fun with it and enjoy the marketing you do. This will make it seem much easier and more rewarding.