In case you’re new around here, I run a Facebook Group for entrepreneurs and bloggers that has quite a lot of people in it, meaning that I get a nifty birds-eye view when it comes to topics that people ask about most.
One thing that comes up over and over again?
And in particular, how overwhelming social media can be.
I give you, Exhibit A:
I used to feel the same exact way. I assumed that social media was the key to growing my revenue, creating more engagement, and building a stronger brand.
But it took me forever to create new posts each week, and after awhile, I finally asked myself:
Is social media even worth it?
Whether you think social media is the most important part to growing a business or you’d prefer to never again utter the word “tweet,” then you’re in the right spot.
In this post, I’m going to share…
- My opinions and experiences with using social media as a community and business-building tool
- What social media CAN do, but why it’s not the “end all, be all”
- How to choose the platform(s) that will work best for you and your audience
Ultimately, my goal here is to make sure you’re intentional and focused on the right things that will grow your business and community more quickly, rather than focusing on tasks that feel more like treading water…in a pit of mud…in a hurricane. 😉
Let’s dig in, yo.
First up, do you NEED to be on social media?
Let me explain.
When I joined the blogging world about 4 years ago, things were already starting to evolve and change.
At that time, Instagram had barely picked up steam, Snapchat was unpopular, Periscope and Facebook Live didn’t exist, and Pinterest was still getting legs.
There was a lot LESS social media out there, so blog comments reigned supreme and Twitter was honestly where the party was at. (Did someone say “party”? I’ll have a Ballast Point, thanks!).
The difference? Most of the biggest social media sites only grew in popularity over the past few years. And video (especially live video) only recently made its big debut.
In my opinion, this caused a lot of overwhelm and “squirrel” syndrome because so many new things popped up at once. It went a little something like this…
I should be on Instagram? Looks fun! DONE!
Oh, and Facebook groups are cool now? You know it!! I’m there!
And Pinterest isn’t just for recipes? Okay, I can do that, too!
Oh, and live video is blowing up? Well, I have major bedhead and I’m exhausted, but SURE!
You get the idea. 🙂
With everything happening at once, it made us start to feel like we needed to BE everywhere at once, too, without ever considering whether that was really true.
I mean, it’s hard to say no when everyone you know and admire has already hopped on the next platform, warning you that “if you’re not an early adopter, you’ll get left in the dust!”
And you’re sitting over there like, “OMG FOMO I don’t want to get left behind!”
Or hey, maybe that was just me. 🙂
So, you move on to the next platform over and over again, eventually realizing you’ve accumulated 10 different channels that all require your time, but aren’t delivering the results you were promised.
So, DO you need to be on every platform? Spending hours per week on social media?
Heck to the mother-effin’ no.
Here’s why: as social media has become pervasive, people have started to crave authenticity more and more. To me, this is why live video is becoming SO popular. Because it’s hard to hide behind a perfectly tailored Instagram photo when you’re live on camera.
So, instead of being on every single platform, go deep on 1-2 platforms so that your audience really gets to trust you and your brand and knows that they’ll get quality content every time they see your username pop up in their feed.
What this means for you is that you don’t need to be everywhere.
Find your core social media platforms and go hard on those instead. It may even just be one platform that you’re particularly active on. Doing that is enormously better than spending your weeks feeling frazzled and fake as you craft social media personalities that feel forced and automated, rather than real.
How do you figure out which social platforms to target?
Here are a few things I’d consider…
1. Where is your audience hanging out most?
This tip is the most obvious, but it’s true and worth mentioning. If you’re trying to build a business, then you have to get over the hump of only wanting to use social media platforms that feel comfortable to YOU.
I’ve heard plenty of people say that they have no idea how to use Instagram Stories or Snapchat, even though they know their target audience loves those platforms.
And instead of trying to figure out those platforms to build better relationships with their peeps, they stick to the platforms they’re already comfortable with and squander the chance to go deeper with their crew.
But business is about adapting. And whether Snapchat is around next year or not, you’re still building the skills that are required in order to connect with the potential customers and clients you’re trying to attract.
[Sidenote: When Periscope came out, I hopped on it frequently because my audience started hanging out there. Now that Periscope is less popular, I teach my live streams on Facebook Live instead.
The platform may have changed, but the skills I learned on Periscope were just as valuable on Facebook Live. Meaning, you may feel miffed by the fact that the platforms you spend time building may be ancient history by this time next year, but the reality is that each platform teaches you the skills you need in order to succeed on whatever other platforms emerge in the future. It’s all relative.]
Bottom line: don’t just go hard on a platform just because YOU enjoy it. Do it because you’re invested in creating a community for your audience, too.
2. Incorporate video.
Some people HATE video. And I get it. It used to freak me out, too. Now, videos are one of my favorite ways to communicate. The fear can be overcometh, yo.
But whether you love it or hate it, video is the evolution of digital content, and at this point, it’s hard to disagree.
Pretty much every popular social media platform — Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter/Periscope — heavily incorporates video (and often live video) into their features.
So, when you’re trying to figure out which platform to hop on full force, consider which one you can rock video on in a way that feels comfortable to you.
- Facebook Live
- Instagram Stories
- Uploading videos (or FB Live clips) to your Instagram feed
- Twitter’s live video feature
3. Which platform accentuates your brand?
If you’re a graphic designer, Twitter may not be your bread and butter. But Instagram or Snapchat might work since they’re largely visual.
If you’re a motivational speaker, you may find it more worthwhile to do twice-weekly Facebook Live classes than to post recycled quote images on your Instagram, because you know that will speak more deeply to your audience.
It’s not only about your preference, but also about which platform brings out the best of your brand.
Does this mean I should stop using all of my other social media accounts?
Not necessarily. Once you’ve got your top 1 or 2 ways of engaging, it doesn’t mean you need to throw everything else into the fire and burn it all down. ????
You can still keep your other accounts (who knows how things will change in the future or how your audience’s preferences could evolve!), but you don’t need to be ACTIVE everywhere once you’ve found your core social media platforms.
Trust me, if you don’t post on Twitter for a year, your business can still be mighty healthy. And honestly, there’s a good chance that almost no one will notice, or care.
Plus, imagine how much MORE effort you can put into the channels that are actually important to your audience if you cut out the excess that’s robbing you of several wasted hours per week. #nobrainer.
At the end of the day, it’s just about being intentional with what you do for your business. Often, those feelings of business overwhelm come from trying to do too many things — many of which aren’t even necessary — in order to succeed.
So, what’s the point of social media?
Since so many of you have asked for my personal opinion on this topic (note: no one has asked for my opinion on this topic), I thought I’d share.
Here’s my take on what the actual point of social media is/should be:
Social media CAN help you grow your list and sell more products or services.
But in my opinion, those two things are simply side effects of successfully accomplishing the MAIN goal of social platforms:
To connect and engage with your audience.
So, instead of thinking of social media as a way to “convert” people, think of it as a way to build a deeper bond with someone.
Building that bond is often WHAT will convert them into a subscriber or customer later on because they now know/like/trust you.
So, I believe that you should use social media to build community and humanize your brand, rather than ways to directly convert someone into a customer.
What are some ways that you can do this?
Well, Gary Vaynerchuck just started the #5MinClub as a way to build community and engagement. He throws up an Instagram post that shares his entrepreneurial perspective about something and anyone who shares their own perspective about that topic in the comments within the first 5 minutes (using the #5minclub hashtag), has the chance to win some cool prizes from Gary.
He’s training his audience to engage with him…and as a byproduct, with each other (as they may want to respond to other people’s comments if they agree or disagree).
As another idea, I do a Facebook Live class on my Facebook Page every week in order to connect with my peeps and share some valuable info. It’s a way for me to engage live and “in person,” as opposed to just writing a blog post that doesn’t fully convey my personality.
And Kayla Hollatz leads a weekly Twitter chat to bring her community together every week for some heart-centered business discussions.
Others may engage in their Facebook group to answer questions and teach new ideas.
And some may share behind-the-scenes videos on Snapchat or Instagram Stories each day.
But the people who are using social media well are generally not on every single platform (and if they are, you can usually bet that there’s a team of people runnin’ the show behind the scenes).
Most people really killing it at social media are usually just really good at one or two things and not worrying about the rest.
And truly, that’s the whole reason I wanted to write this post. So that you would feel comfortable cutting out the excess and only working on the things that bring you joy and actual results for your business.
Because anyone can tell you that “you need more likes on your Facebook page,” but if you don’t know exactly how that is going to help you grow a more engaged and profitable community, then why are you doing it?
Or more simply: don’t just try to grow your number of followers because that somehow seems important. Focus, instead, on creating quality content and engagement on just a couple of platforms, and the community will come.
This is something that took me a long time to finally see, but unless you approach social media with intention, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need to be EVERYWHERE (which just dilutes your brand and shrinks your potential results).
Which brings me to my final point…
Social media is not an email list. And yes, you need both.
Social media can be a fabulous tool for showing YOU and your personality and the gorgeous community you can create for your brand.
But it is not an email list.
And it will probably never directly bring you the same results (revenue-wise) that an email list can.
Here’s what I mean…
When I had just started my web design studio, I was ALL ABOUT social media. I tweeted. I Facebooked. I even staged pretty Instagram photos because that seemed like the thing all the popular designers were doing.
It took me a LONG freakin’ time each week to plan all of this out, schedule my content, and take my photos.
And yet I was getting no clients, despite my excessive posting of my calligraphy (which — let’s be honest — was kind of ~THE THING~ a couple years ago).
My social media followings were growing, but my bank account wasn’t.
So, I started focusing on my email list instead and used social media as a way to build community, rather than a way to get people to pay me.
And it worked.
Soon, my design studio was booked out months in advance with clients.
And I got to use social media as a way to have fun and build deeper bonds without needing to use it as the ultimate marketing tool.
So, first and foremost: grow your email list. And focus on sending value to your subscribers each week. Building engagement with your subscribers will quickly create a tribe of raving fans.
And then move on to social media. But like I said, just 1-2 platforms where you can be engaged and intentional, rather than spreading yourself too thin and connecting deeply with no one.
My main way of connecting and engaging is through the Facebook Lives I do each week on my FB page and within my FB group. Though, I’d also like to work more on the community I cultivate on Instagram, as I know my peeps hang out there and I love the creativity it can offer when I allow myself to let go of perfection.
Which platform(s) will you choose? Leave a comment and let me know!