Back when I was a young sapling, ready and raring to launch my first business, I (somewhat surprisingly) had the foresight to download and fill out a business plan template. I recently found it saved in the depths of my Dropbox – and what a cringey* read that was!
*Yes, I know “cringey” isn’t a word, but it’s a pretty accurate description of how I feel about this, so I’m just going to leave it there…
My tagline, goals and point-of-difference were so cringey, I won’t disclose them. But, you know what the most embarassing part of the whole business plan is? My answer to the question, “How will you market your business?”
Being the naive eager beaver that I was (before 2 years of entrepreneurial life lessons smacked me in the face and gave me grey hair), I simply wrote “social media”.
Back then, social media was to my business what sparkling cold brew is to my Monday morning. It promised to bring my business to life and push it to achieve all of its hopes and dreams. And it did… A solid 2 months of pre-launch hype-building, a ton of influencer marketing and 12 months straight of posting 3 times a day saw the Instagram account hit 23k followers – right before I closed the doors and started a business that actually made me happy (i.e. this one).
(Pssst! Have you downloaded my free Instagram cheat sheet yet?)
The problem is this: many fresh-faced business owners are still filling out that exact same business plan template with the exact same response as I did. And, while it may have worked back in early 2016, the social media game is a helluva lot different in 2018.
Long story short: Organic social media should be just one part of your marketing arsenal. You can no longer rely on organic social media, and organic social media alone, to market your business.
The free social media wins that businesses enjoyed a few years ago are no longer. Yes, there are some exceptions, but I wouldn’t count on being one of them. It’s far harder to reach your target audience than it used to be. Building a large, engaged following is a long slog, and if you’re relying on organic social media alone, your business growth will adopt a similar pace.
Then, there’s the jarring fact that you don’t own your social media platform – Instagram or Facebook or Youtube or whoever, does. Without notice, they can flip the algorithm on its head, or worse – shut down completely.
If Instagram shut down today, how would you communicate with your audience? (Hint: The answer should rhyme with “shemail shmarketing”).
Your organic social media platforms are mainly a top/mid-funnel activity. This means that they are a great way to get your brand in front of new people and to nurture the tiny portion of your audience who actually see your posts. These days, your posts reach such a small percentage of your followers organically, so you need to get your audience off social media and into your email list. Like, yesterday.
Email marketing needs to be part of your marketing strategy. It’s free (mostly) and, when done correctly, it can transform your warm audience into paying customers and, eventually, brand advocates.
Influencer marketing is another tactic that can speed up your business growth (and your social media growth too), when done strategically. Again, this is a top of funnel activity. It’s all about getting your brand in front of new audiences and building brand awareness. But, be prepared to pay for influencers who are truly influential.
There are so many other ways to reach your audience outside of organic social media – I’d be here all day if I were to list them all. Paid social media advertising is a good place for small business owners to start, as the barriers to entry are fairly low. Facebook Ads, Google Adwords, Linkedin Ads and Pinterest Promoted Pins are a few of these. Chances are, you’ll find your audience on at least one of the 4 platforms!
Yes, paid ads cost real cash money – unlike organic social. However, their targeting features are so powerful that you can actually fill your email list with the right people – people who are your ideal customer. You can even use paid ads to retarget people on your email list or who have visited your website and not purchased.
Does this mean you should abandon organic social media marketing altogether? No freaking way.
It’s still a valuable piece of the marketing puzzle – it just shouldn’t be the entire puzzle.
Remember – it takes far more than one touchpoint to convert a customer. Think about other ways you can market your business and mind map them on a large piece of paper. Think about how these different methods interact with each other and think about how you can leverage social media to amplify these.
Here’s an example: Say you “meet” a potential customer on social media and you get them onto your website or onto your email list. You can then use Facebook Ads retargeting and/or email marketing to continue building trust with that potential customer, with the goal of eventually getting them to convert.
It’ll take a lot of experimenting, but once you get your funnel right, your business will start ticking along like a well-oiled machine.
To start running paid ads on the right foot, download my 2018 Facebook Ads Cheat Sheet here.
We'll also send you our weekly wrap up. It's all thrills, no frills - you have our word.