Do you ever feel a crazy amount of resistance to something everyone says you should be doing to market your business — but you just can’t bring yourself to get on board?
For me, that point of resistance has long been around social media.
Ever since Twitter started its decline (gosh, 5 years ago now?), I’ve been incredibly resistant to marketing my work on social media.
Give me an opening, and I can give you ALL the reasons why I don’t use social media to market my business.
Just for starters…
- I HATE it when people message me on Facebook instead of emailing me. If you want to reach me, just reply to one of these emails!
- I also find it weird when someone I don’t know sends me a friend request. Why is that a thing?
- Back in the day, I was a low-key lifestyle blogger, who regularly wrote about personal development. Now, the idea of turning my every move into a business metaphor gives me hives.
- My work isn’t consumer focused, so it doesn’t lend itself easily to places like Pinterest or Instagram. I don’t think photos of my cats are going to sell you PR or marketing advice. Actually, on second thought…it probably would!
- The last thing I want to do is share the same-old inspirational quotes you see everywhere. I’m not against those quotes, but I’m not setting out to be a guru or life coach.
When I sit and really look at this list with an open heart and mind, what it tells me is that the typical formula for social media marketing feels like the absolute least authentic way for me to communicate.
As a writer, I already have a tendency to narrate my life as I’m living it. I don’t care to feed that tendency by taking the things I do for myself — things like hiking or political canvassing — and turning them into marketing lessons.
For the longest time, I couldn’t think of another way to engage, especially in a space like Instagram.
I’m much more comfortable sitting down and writing an email, because I feel like I can be fully myself and not adopt a persona for likes.
I will probably always feel that email is where I show up best, and yet, I’ve also had a breakthrough that has completely transformed how I think and feel about social.
I’ve come to realize that I’ve been thinking about social all wrong…
For most people, social media is a discovery tool. It’s a way to spread your content and your work to more people.
But I’ve come to realize that the way I use social media is to deepen relationships.
There are two recent events that flipped this switch for me.
First up was my realization that I’m constantly advising my clients to share their PR wins, not to reach more people, but to energize the tribe they’ve already gathered.
After YEARS of giving this advice, it finally dawned on me.
I was not practicing what I preached…
That’s when I decided to start sharing more of my client’s press coverage, on the blog, in email but also on Instagram.
The second event was starting to tune into Instagram stories more, and messaging with friends and clients.
There is one client in particular, where a lot of our communication is through Instagram!
In my own company, I talk about how our remote team needs to work extra hard to create “watercooler moments” — spontaneous gathering points like you’d typically see play out in an office. For the past month, I’ve realized that Instagram messages & stories are playing this spontaneous, light-hearted role for my clients and me.
It’s deepening our relationship, now that not every conversation is specifically about the work or a deliverable.
I’m still pretty sporadic on Instagram, but if you’d like to connect over there with me, I’m @brigittelyons.
I won’t even complain if you show up in my messages. 😉
I’ve been doing some deep thinking about how social media might become more integrated into the marketing strategy we do for our clients, but in the meantime, I invite you to reflect on the role social media plays in your business.
How do you feel about social media? Do you use it for your business at all? Is your focus on discovery or depth — or both?
When you look at the data, there is no question that blogging, aka publishing content consistently on your own website, is a non-negotiable for small businesses and nonprofits that want to make it online.
This is because blogging regularly has a disproportionately high return on traffic and lead generation for micro businesses (companies with 10 or fewer employees).
And yet, I still get pushback from clients when I tell them they should be blogging more.
Today I want to address the most common objections head on, because if you’re not blogging at least once a week, you are losing revenue.
On the flip side, if you start blogging twice a week or more, you greatly increase your chances of attracting more customers.
So let’s knock down those roadblocks, shall we?
1. There’s no point in blogging until I build an audience.
This first misconception is the most common one I hear, and it stems from a fundamental misunderstanding in how a blog builds your business.
I think the challenge is that blogging doesn’t build your audience overnight. Instead, it’s a slow burn that provides cumulative benefits over time.
First, simply by producing content, you’re doing SEO…even if you don’t understand how SEO works.
The specifics of search engine optimization (helping your site show up in relevant searches) may change, but the fundamentals remain the same. Google, and other search engines, prioritize websites that produce regular, relevant content.
If you’re producing content for your audience, you’re going to get SEO benefits.
These benefits don’t show up overnight, which is why so many small business marketers get discouraged. It can take 6 months to see the bump in traffic you want, from producing content alone. But if you’re not creating content, your search rankings aren’t going to go anywhere.
Second, your blog gives your growing audience a reason to share your site on social media.
If you want your audience, no matter what the size, to promote your work to their network, you have to give them something to share.
Think about it. Have you ever seen someone just link to a company’s home page on Facebook, and not a specific blog post?
It’s pretty rare.
Every time you publish a piece of content, you’re giving your readers a fresh chance to share your site. Combined with the SEO benefits, these one-off shares add up to a lot of traffic over the course of a year.
A blog isn’t just something you do once you have traffic, it’s something you do to grow your traffic.
2. I only need to blog when I release a product or have something to sell.
I used to have a boss who said the trick to effective marketing is reminding people you existed in precisely the moment they need what you have to offer.
There’s something to that. You don’t ask your friends to refer a plumber until the toilet breaks down.
Blogging gives your audience a reason to stick around and remember you, even if they don’t need you that exact moment.
And in the meantime, you’re able to deliver value to them time-and-time again, so when they do, they know exactly who to call. It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to build trust with your audience if you’re not delivering value on the regular.
By far, the easiest and cheapest way for you to do that as a small business marketer is to produce content.
3. No one cares about my story / I don’t have anything to say.
Maybe you know you should be blogging, but you don’t know what to share.
I totally get that — in many ways, blogging is message testing in real time. Because I promise you, you can’t think your way into a perfect strategy or platform. You have to put content out and see what resonates.
When you’re first starting out, it’s especially hard to go it alone, because you don’t get a lot of feedback. It takes a little time before you build enough of an audience to get any clear signal of what’s working.
If you’d love to get prompts, writing tips and promotional strategies for your blog , Megan Auman and I are taking a cohort through our live program 50 Day Blog Boost. You can get more info on the program right here.
Here is what helps me figure out what to write about. I bring to mind a specific person, maybe someone I talked to in a coaching call or exchanged a couple of emails with, and write a piece of content I think they’ll need.
It’s always better to write with one specific person in mind than try to reach the crowd. Ultimately what you want to do with your marketing is attract a ton of folks with similar qualities that make them a great fit for your work. So writing for one person who you know is a good fit is a great way to do that.
In fact, I’m doing it right now. :-)
4. I don’t need to blog, because I post on social media.
We’ve already talked about how blog content gives your audience a reason to share your website.
But there’s another reason you should be reluctant to give all your time and effort to social media.
You don’t own that content. People could move on from Twitter, Facebook could shut your page down without warning, or Vine could get shut down.
Wait, all of these things are happening…
Your content is way too valuable to invest in someone else’s property.
That’s why I advocate that you position your website as the hub of all your content. Social media channels are valuable promotion tools, but they shouldn’t be given ownership of your best content.
Are you reading this list and feeling motivated to start blogging every week?
If you need a little help and extra push to get going, Megan Auman and I are running our 50 Day Blog Boost program.
For 6 weeks starting January 9th, we’ll be giving a blog prompt, writing tip and promotional strategy, so you can make blogging a habit, improve your writing skills and promote your content.
With our support, you get the information and accountability you need to make blogging a weekly habit.
Registration is open now for the 50 Day Blog Boost. You can check out the full program details at www.50dayblogboost.com.
In the 20 years since Bill Gates declared, “Content is King,” only one thing is certain.
There’s a whole lot of competition to wear the crown.
In 1996, when Gates wrote his prophetic essay on content, only 20 million Americans were online. To give those numbers some context, 271 million Americans are online today.
In those early days of the world wide web, there wasn’t all that much to do online. Creating a website wasn’t half as easy as it is today, and most news sites barely even registered online. Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, 1996 was also the year the New York Times launched their first website.
I’m sharing this, because I always shake my head in wonder when people now go around claiming, “Content is King.”
This is obviously true, which begs the question. Does this claim really give you any clue on how to set your content apart?
I would argue no. It’s not enough to just put up a blog or publish white papers and ebooks (remember those?). It’s not enough to be insanely useful.
Creating content does little more than meet the bar for entry.
I was listening the other day to a podcast about a lone phone booth in the Mojave desert.
This phone booth, out in the middle of nowhere, should have lived a long, obscure life out in the desert. Instead, it captured the public’s imagination, to the point that it attracted so many visitors that the National Park Service removed all traces of the booth to discourage people from visiting the site.
The Mojave phone booth’s remarkable story starts in 1997, when Godfrey Daniels became fascinated with a report that there was this random phone in the desert. He became obsessed with calling the booth several times a day, wondering if anyone would ever pick up.
After a month of daily dialing, a woman answered.
Because Daniels was an Internet entrepreneur, he created a website for the booth. And to his complete surprise, his obsession spread to people around the globe.
Although the phone booth is no longer there, the fame of the Mojave phone booth begs the question.
Why did it inspire such a devoted following?
The reason people were so attracted to the booth was that it was just so unexpected.
It wasn’t located in a city, like most phone booths. It wasn’t at the side of a major interstate, which might have been understandable.
It was 8 miles from the nearest paved road.
Remember 1997? Not only was the Internet not all that populated yet, but also the Nokia was the hottest thing happening in the world of cell phones.
As Daniels said, “When you were out in the desert in those days you were on your own. You couldn’t contact anybody. The idea there was this phone booth just sitting out in an uncontactable place, it was sort of like somebody was on the moon. You could contact somebody on the moon.”
Coming across a story about a phone booth in the middle of Los Angeles would have been unremarkable.
But a booth in the Mojave?
Yet many businesses and organizations model their content on the competition.
It’s natural to look around and see what’s out there. In fact, we generally start client projects this way!
But the goal of this landscape survey isn’t to build just another phone booth.
It’s to figure out what is unexpected about your brand.
This might sound obvious, but I’ve worked with product designers who leave out their company’s commitment to green practices, because they think, “No one cares,” and coaches who can’t articulate what their special sauce is to customers.
This is a big problem, because the way to set your content, and by extension your brand, apart is to drive home that difference.
Consider your audience. When they first find your website, they have a predetermined set of expectations and questions that are all driven by past experiences. You can probably predict exactly what they would ask if you got on the phone with them.
You absolutely should answer their questions (that’s being relevant and useful), but there’s incredible power in subverting expectations.
Her audience, as do all of us I expect, brings questions like, “What do people think of me? How can I feel more loved? How do I feel less alone?”
Instead of telling her audience that they shouldn’t worry about what people think, or giving them tips on finding a partner, Brown gives an unexpected answer.
“If you want to feel more connected to others, first you must allow yourself to be vulnerable.”
Standing out among the competition isn’t about being the loudest voice or the most controversial. It isn’t even about being the best at self-promotion.
It’s knowing your audience deeply, understanding what their questions, concerns, hopes and dreams are.
It’s taking the time to find out what else they’re being exposed to.
And consciously putting forward the products or ideas that offer an alternative point of view.
When you create your next piece of content, ask yourself:
- Who does my organization serve?
- What are they looking for?
- What do I represent that’s different than everything else they’re finding in the market?