Debunking the Social Media Time-Suck Myth
The most common problem, with small business owners using social media, is not leveraging our time correctly. A lot of people complain that social media is a big time-suck, but if social media is taking you a lot of time, you’re not actually marketing; you’re browsing social media for fun!
The stuff that takes up a lot of time is clicking on links, reading blogs, and watching YouTube videos. That stuff doesn’t promote your business. You need to share your own content and engage with your audience. Sharing your own content is something you can automate and schedule using a lot of free tools; and sharing with others — it’s not like most businesses get thousands of messages a day — really doesn’t take much time. You go in, see what people have said, and respond to them.
The Truth Behind Creating Social Media Fame
A lot of people make the mistake of being too “professional” on social media. You hear people say, “Who cares about where you ate lunch?” and so on. I’m not saying you should only post pictures of your sandwich, but where you ate for your lunch is something that people make small talk about … it’s what you talk to your friends about. “Where’s your favorite burger in the city that you live in?” People like reading that kind of small talk about you as well.
I always tell people to imagine themselves at a networking event. If you go up to someone and start spewing off facts about your industry, then no one wants to talk to you; it’s weird. You want to be useful and it’s the same with social media. You are connecting with people by sharing who you are and then you are also being useful in the context of your business.
But Social Media Won’t Work in My Industry
A lot of people think that social media doesn’t apply to them and won’t work for their industry. But you’re actually in a better position if people aren’t using social media in your industry because it allows you to stand out. I teach people that social media is truly about connecting with the business owner or someone who could be the face of your company.
People want that in every type of experience, whether you’re a doctor or a chef… For example, if you think about going to your local restaurant and the chef comes out to shake your hand you feel really important. While they are not a celebrity chef, they’re in your local town, and you really feel honored that you got to meet them. It’s hard for people to see this in their own business. Some business owners may think, “Who wants to meet me?” But in your industry, your customers really do want to get to know the person behind the business.
Biggest Success Story
One that comes to mind is a podiatrist, Dr. Andrew Schneider. He was one of our early clients … who joined our programs in 2009. He is a great example, because other people in his field are not doing social media marketing.
People think that there’s not much to say about feet on social media or that it’s too boring. And he actually has a lot to say about feet on social media and it has really made him standout because other people aren’t doing it. [Social media opened new doors for his practice]. There’s actually a whole new business that he became a part of; an e-commerce store that sells podiatry-related products. They saw all of the social media work that Dr. Schneider was doing and invited him to be a part of their business.
So now he has a whole new offering. He’s been invited to be published in top industry outlets, [speak at] conferences … and all of these amazing opportunities. He’s used social media to sustain his business because people are searching for foot doctors in Houston, TX, the way they are searching for everything else. He’s been able to grow his reach and sustain a thriving practice through the use of social media.
Biggest Startup Challenge
It was challenging deciding where to focus. Social media and online marketing is such a huge industry. There are so many different things we could teach courses about; there are so many different types of businesses that we could target. We don’t have an industry vertical that we target.
Over the years, we’ve seen that our customer base is largely solopreneurs and service professionals that want to take their local businesses to an online [presence]. Honing in on exactly what we want to talk about and who we want to talk — who will find the most value from our services — has been the biggest challenge.
Small businesses owners can overcome this challenge by taking a look at who naturally gravitates to you. Maybe you’re building a product and think it will be useful for two different industries and you’re not really sure which one you want to talk to in your marketing. Put your product out there and see who buys it! It might be an industry or demographic profile, but you’ll have the easiest time following the path of who is naturally coming to you.
Social media makes that really easy to do. For instance, you can create a Facebook Brand Page and view the demographics — how old people are, their gender, where they live, etc.
#1 Tip for Entrepreneurs
Follow what is easy for you — your natural strengths. We all have different business models that can come easy for us or really difficult. For me, I’ve found finding consulting clients to be much harder than selling an online course. For some people, it is the exact opposite… they’d much rather call someone on the phone and close the sale. So, pay attention to what comes naturally to you, who wants to pay you, and what marketing channels [work for] your company and follow the path of what flows naturally.
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This interview has been edited and condensed. Interview conducted by Katherine Burks.
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