Why Most Small Business Owners are Doing Social Media Wrong
…and what you can do to avoid their mistakes
Most side-hustlers and small business owners are attacking their social media the wrong direction. It’s tempting to follow the herd, but most of the time the herd runs the wrong direction.
While it looks cool to follow the same strategy as your favorite influencer, you might be doing your side-hustle a huge disservice if you don’t change your ways.
The current model is dangerous for most, and it’s time to re-focus our efforts on classic models that work.
Instead of spending all your time creating content to build a brand, your side-hustle needs you at a more grassroots level. We’ll focus on helping our tribe get what they want first. Later, if we help enough people, we’ll get what we want.
Zig Ziglar was right.
We can push or we can pull-market. We can build a huge following someone else owns, or we can control our own destiny with a more-solid foundation. In a few minutes you’ll have the tools to keep zigging while the rest of the world zags.
Are You Pulling or Pushing?
There are two types of marketing: push and pull. When you use push-marketing you force your content into the reader’s life. You inundate her feed with your products and services. Your message constantly screams, “Buy my stuff, it’s great! Look at me!”
With pull-marketing we take the opposite approach.
We create thoughtful, valuable content with the end-user in mind. Not the needs of the business. We prove we can help the other person before any money changes hands. We put content into the world that’s customer-focused, with her wants and needs addressed.
The content attracts the right people into your business. They want to do business with you, because of what you stand for, how you’ve already helped them, and the clear advantages your products have over all other choices in the marketplace.
When you pull-market, you entice people to join your tribe.
Pull-marketing isn’t about the hard-sell or the cold-call. When we pull-market we give away our best stuff freely. Those who want to do business with us after we’ve already helped them, will be more than happy to pay us.
When we treat people the way they want to be treated, amazing things happen in return.
Is Your Funnel Aimed in the Right Direction?
Social media isn’t the place to build your business. If you create an entire business in someone else’s sandbox, the platform owns your customers (and your business) not you.
If you don’t own your customer list your income can disappear overnight.
Especially during these crazy economic times, you need a platform you own and control. Yes, social media is a huge component of growing your platform, but it’s important to aim your funnel in the right direction.
What do I mean?
All your social posts, articles, blogs, videos, podcasts, and smoke signals should be aimed at growing your email list, not for growing your following on a particular platform.
Unless your goal is to be social-famous, you need to build your direct traffic away from the social sites and onto a list you own. If you don’t own your traffic you don’t own your business.
With email, once you establish an account and built your infrastructure, contacting your list is almost free. With social, you have to pay to reach the majority of your followers. This can be catastrophic if you need to reach them during harsh economic times (like when you have no money for ads).
Info-tainment is the process of covering broccoli with candy and bacon. The customer gets the vitamins (the lesson) from your content, but in an entertaining way.
We don’t like to be lectured.
Info-tainment is also NOT pure entertainment. You don’t need to make a fool of yourself on social just to get some ‘likes.’ Instead, teach in an entertaining way. Provide real value while having fun. Ask nothing in return on social, except for the reader to grab your free offer if she wants more information.
I call this free offer your Easy Invite.
The Easy Invite is your way to entice new readers to join your email list. This is a valuable book, course, or something that your reader is willing to pay actual money for, but you give freely, for free.
Instead of pumping social content just to engage your readers, you give your social content the direct purpose of growing your email list–a list you own and control, no matter what happens to your social platform.
Your Website Has No Purpose
Every website should have a single purpose. For most side-hustlers, the website is a central repository of FAQ information. But many side-hustlers give their websites too many purposes. It’s a blog, a store, a place to self-promote, and maybe a way to get subscribers.
If you change your website to the upside-down, welcome mat-style, you put your Easy Invite call-to-action at the top, and all the FAQ business at the bottom.
This way, the first thing a visitor sees, is the offer to join your list.
The email list does all the heavy lifting. Once a customer joins your automated sequence, she gets a measured, relationship-building experience with your work. Occasionally, you’ll send an offer.
Contrast this method with the constant bombardment of sales pitches we get on social from the average business.
Re-design your website to encourage readers to join your email list. Don’t worry about starting a blog or posting a bunch of content. Instead, post your content to sites where your customers already hang-out. Encourage them to join your list, not visit your website.
You don’t have to encourage people to leave your site to check-out your social content either. I know this goes against the current wisdom, but think about the purpose of your site first.
We want every interested party to stop what they’re doing and join our email list, not leave our site to read our latest social post, or give us a virtual thumbs-up. You can’t spend virtual thumbs.
The Social Content Builds the List
Instead of trying to sell from your social posts directly, give your readers the info-tainment they crave. This is the reason their scrolling their phones. They don’t want your pitch. They want escape, learning, and entertainment.
Yes, social ads are powerful.
Multi-million dollar side-hustles are built off social ads. But if you have to pay tens of thousands of dollars to reach customers you can reach for free with email, which business model has the potential for more longevity?
We pull instead of push.
Every piece of social content becomes a tiny salesperson for your tribe. If you create an irresistible Easy Invite, you don’t have to hard-sell any step of the process.
At the bottom of all your content, all you have to say is, “hey, if you’re also interested in X, I’ve got this free masterclass you might enjoy. Click the link in my bio.”
Your offer does all the hard work.
All you have to do is continue to make great content to feed your funnel. You don’t have to remember to send live emails. You don’t have to remember who you sold to and who you didn’t.
Think of all the social sites as legs of a spiderweb. Your email list is the center. But not in a spidery, creepy way. In a hub-and-spoke way. Build your customer base on a list you own. No one can take that from you.
You can even change email providers and bring your list with you.
Social media won’t allow us that luxury. You can’t download your follower list. You can migrate followers from Twitter to Facebook. Sounds absurd, but you did all the work to earn them, right? Why not have your best customers on a list you own.
The New Economy Will Change Rapidly
Not even the biggest social media companies will all survive. As consumers we only have so much bandwidth. Why give all that control to a platform that makes you do all their work for free?
The social media companies have given us a gift and tricked us into being the biggest pool of free labor ever created, simultaneously.
Turn the tables and use all their social might to help build your email list. The social media platforms have spent billions of dollars to keep people engaged with their sites. Your customers are already there. The site spent the money to collect them.
Now is your turn to encourage your best readers to leave the social site and join your tribe.
Once you’ve built your tribe you have direct access to the people you serve. There’s no gatekeeper. No middle-man. With email, you’ve got just as much right to your reader’s in-box as the biggest companies in the world.
As of now, no one can pay for higher placement in your reader’s in-box.
The best time to build your email list was twenty years ago. The second-best time is now, before you need it. Before your product is finished. There’s nothing worse than opening your doors to an empty crowd.
August Birch is an author, email expert, and entrepreneur from Michigan, USA. As a self-appointed guardian of writers and creators, August teaches indies how to make more work that sells and sell more work once it’s made. When he’s not writing or teaching, August carries a pocket knife and shaves his head with a safety razor.