The Accomplished Solopreneur
Saturday, June 24, 2023
LOLs and Dollars: Should you be on social media?
Should you be on social media to generate leads for your business? In this article, we look at why social media can be great, the biggest problem with social media, and the prejudices that stop us from making use of this great opportunity.
Why does everyone say you have to be on social media?
For almost as long as social media has been around, the common wisdom has been that “you need to be on social media to market your stuff”. This common wisdom is still common, and when we hear something often enough, we start to believe there has to be some truth in it.
What’s great about social media
The greatest thing about social media can be summed up in one word:
There are lots of people on social media. The bigger your “addressable market” (the number of people you can reach), the better your chances of getting at least some of them to pay attention.
Just look at the numbers:
- Twitter (despite it’s choppy waters) still has over 450 million users
- Facebook is the “big daddy” with almost 3 billion.
- Over 137 million US LinkedIn members use the platform daily.
- Reddit has 861 million active monthly users.
If you can reach even 0.1% of the people on any of these platforms, you can still count your reach in the hundreds of thousands.
No wonder the common wisdom is “we have to be there”.
What’s not so great about social media
The worst thing about social media can also be summed up in one word:
A lot of people make a lot of noise. To be heard in all that noise, there are effectively only two things you can do:
- Shout louder.
- Shout more often.
This immediately conjures up the image of having to slave over posts every day, generating tons of content and posting two or three times a day. This is a lot of work, so we don’t even want to start.
But despite this noise - and because of the reach - there’s only one good business reason to be on social media.
The only good (business) reason to be on social media
There are many good personal reasons you may want to be on social media. Staying in touch with friends and family, finding information, indulging in your hobby - these are all good personal reasons.
But there is only one good business reason to be on social media:
I need more leads - and my potential clients are there.
But let’s be clear:
- If you don’t need more leads, you don’t need to be on social media. (Heck, you don’t need to market at all.)
- If your ideal clients don’t hang out on Twitter / LinkedIn / Facebook, it won’t help to market there.
- If something else is already working for you, you don’t need to be on social media.
So if you need more leads, and you know for a fact that your ideal clients hang out there (looking for the kind of stuff you may be offering), you should consider being on social media.
As a side note, it’s worth mentioning that social media is also great for building and maintaining your brand. But ultimately, that boils down to getting them to buy your stuff.
“But I hate social media”
There are three main reasons we “hate” social media.
1. I’m an introvert
I am an introvert by nature, and the very idea of having to be on social media, shouting into a crowded room to get attention, makes me want to look for somewhere quiet.
I have only one piece of advise for myself - and you if you’re an introvert:
Get over it.
If you need leads for your business, you’re going to have to get out there. You’re going to have to speak to strangers. Some of them are going to become clients.
2. I will “have to be like them and look like them”
I have a bias against social media. That bias is based on some preconceived notion that social media is mostly:
- blindingly obvious and therefore worthless, or
- patently self-serving.
And when we have a preconceived idea of a place, we avoid it. In my case: I don’t want to appear shallow, spout worthless nonsense or appear self-serving.
I’m letting my own prejudices get in the way of opportunity. The platform is there. How you show up on it is up to you.
The real problem we have to deal with is that we’re not yet experts at the platform or the format. Social media is overwhelmingly short-form content, and that can easily appear shallow or low value. That doesn’t mean we have to be shallow or spout worthless nonsense.
3. Fear of failure
I’m envious of people who have huge (even large-ish) followings on social media. They seem to have a knack for being out there, at the right time, saying things that get the attention of others.
And I’m afraid that if I do put a lot of effort in, and I don’t get similar results, I will have failed. So I don’t even start at all.
This is of course a fallacy. Everyone, including those people with huge followings, started from zero. Those who have succeeded did so:
- Over a long period of time.
- With a lot of self-discipline.
They showed up, every day, literally for years, and they’re seeing the results. If we do the same, we will (mostly) see similar results.
So, do you need to be on social media?
Social media isn’t the only place you can market. There are lost of other channels to market, including:
- public speaking (highly recommended)
- radio & TV ads (if appropriate for your kind of business)
- articles in relevant blogs or magazines (especially if they have a substantial reach)
- podcasts including guest appearances (recommended)
- networking (not recommended)
Social media is just one (type of) channel to market. The greatest thing about it is reach, and the cost of entry is low (or zero).
But all marketing takes time and discipline. Forget about your marketing working after a week of effort. It’s going to take months or years to see decent results.
Bottom line: you should consider social media if a) you need more leads for your business, and b) your potential clients hang out there. And how you show up is your decision - not determined by how others show up. Who knows - you may even be a breath of fresh air.