Small business marketing is not easy. You’re competing with giant teams from around the world for eyeballs on platforms like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp and TikTok. Everyone from Amazon to your therapist are trying to get visibility in all the same places. And some companies are willing to put a lot of bucks behind their efforts.
Entrepreneurs can feel obligated to play these algorithm games. It’s a common marketing recipe to set up profiles everywhere and blast posts out hoping they get seen and lead to sales. Social media managers echo the formulas from these platforms without thinking twice about it. Meanwhile, you’re wondering why you’re not getting the customers you want.
Social media is the slowest way to get clients. It is certainly A WAY to get clients, but of all the possibilities, it is one of the longest games to play.
Let’s have a look at why social media takes so long to pay off and where you should consider turning your attention instead.
Social media is a global field of competition
The trap: On any social media channel, you are battling with the whole world of people and companies to get your work seen. The attention economy is competitive and many companies are paying for those eyeballs with ads, influencer partnerships, sponsorships and more.
Your opportunity: Narrow your field. Instead of choosing worldwide, general platforms, consider how you can get more specific in where you’re putting your energy. Industry-based platforms, directories or communities can be a much smaller arena which gives you a much better chance of getting noticed.
Social media reaches too broad an audience
The trap: Social media platforms are open to anyone (mostly) which means that it’s hard to know who you’re going to reach. That means you’re going to reach a lot of people who are not your target audience. It’s like walking into a bar and shouting out what you do and asking if anyone needs that. You may get one person but do you want to spend all your time shouting in the void to get booked?
Your opportunity: Find more targeted places to locate your buyers (people who are in buy mode for what you offer). This can include special interest groups, podcasts, blogs, conferences, events and through business partners. Consider where your buyers are looking for you (or someone like you) when they are shopping for a solution to their problems. Honing in on the who, what, when and where of your buyers will make sure your efforts are more likely to pay off versus trying to dig for them on general channels.
Social media is a passive channel
The trap: Social media platforms are designed to be places where people can hang out. They optimize for scrolling, engaging with posts, and keeping their users attention as long as they can. The operating mode is more passive versus other channels where you can reach your audience (email, networking events, through introductions, in small group settings, guest blogs, sponsorships, and more.)
Your opportunity: Prioritize spending time on more active channels where buyers are trying to find a solution to their problems. This can include reaching out to strategic partners, past referrers, or niche groups. You can also leverage channels like email, DMs and networking where people are more actively engaging in meeting new people.
Social media is owned by another company
The trap: Social media algorithms are completely controlled by an entity that you have no say in. They change constantly and your performance on them will likely diminish over time unless you keep up with their rules. They’re not invested in your success; they’re invested in their success.
Your opportunity: Develop your own channels and methods that you can fully own. Starting your own company newsletter, establishing a strong referral network, and creating your own groups are all places where your efforts will compound over time. Invest more of your time in areas where you set the rules.
Find your buyers. Don’t make them find you.
Social media can be a great way to connect with clients, referrers and fans, but it takes a lot longer to pay off than many of your other options. Rather than casting a wide net and hoping to catch some buyers, be more strategic and focused with where you go looking for your clients.
Thinking about where your buyers are looking for you will help you get in front of them faster. If you’re not sure where they might be searching, start asking around. Ask prospects, ask at networking events, ask your referrers or business partners. Start a list of channels where you can more easily identify and reach your potential clients. Run small tests to see if you can get those channels to pay off faster than social media. I’m willing to bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results.