One of the things I love most about my work is the opportunity to speak with a wide range of solopreneurs. I’m always curious to hear what individuals have to say, of course. But I’m also listening for patterns and themes among the experiences of the wider group.
These past few weeks, I’ve noticed one theme coming up more frequently than any other.
Solopreneurs are tired and frustrated with social media.
During my recent client engagements and prospect meetings, I’ve repeatedly heard sentiments like the following. Do you find yourself nodding your head with any of them?
- “I’m so tired of the negativity in the conversation.”
- “The only people I seem to attract are people who can’t hire me.”
- “The conversation feels like a flood pulling me downstream. I can’t swim back up.”
- “Social media is full of takers who have absolutely no intention of hiring you.”
I couldn’t agree more with these sentiments, actually.
I think them all myself on a regular basis (often in quick succession!).
But despite all that, I STILL stick with social media, and actually "hit it" pretty hard as part of my marketing strategy. Every week, I devote rather copious amounts of time each week to creating brand messages and original valuable content (like this blog post) for the audience I’ve cultivated there.
That doesn't even count the time I spend engaging individuals who share my post, comment on it, or reach out through email or direct messages to continue the conversation.
Why do I bother with all this?
Because the bottom line is: I do sell through social media.
I’ve grown an audience there, purposeful piece of content by purposeful piece of content, for both my artistic brand and my business.
And to be honest, when I quit focusing on the negative aspects of the public forum, I get so much joy out of sharing my value and ideas each week for everyone to benefit. Not to mention individually connecting with those who resonate most strongly and want to invest in their business.
If all that isn't enough, I'll be blunt: Cultivating an intentional online presence is THE way to grow your brand and your business IF you're interested in outgrowing your local market.
Yes, social media has its downsides. But if you're not growing your business online, you won't grow nationally or internationally, period.
It takes few mindset shifts in order to reframe how we see social media and start actually getting value out of it. These mindset shifts are also critical for staying consistent week in and week out. Because when you're consistent, you really see the greatest gains.
So here are the simple brain hacks I use to keep myself in the game. And by the way, I directly attribute my growth this year, in both my brands, to these ways of viewing social media that kept me productive instead of giving in to the temptation to be stagnant.
HACK #1: Social media is a bank, and relationships are currency.
One of the biggest temptations solopreneurs and small business owners face is to view social media as a free-for-all, in which only s/he who shouts loud enough will be heard. This very natural impression contributes to feelings of powerlessness. Why say anything at all, because who's going to listen?
Conversely, it can lead to a willy-nilly strategy. Entrepreneurs throw themselves into the arena, then discover they can’t maintain their pace.
Hold it right there.
Social media may LOOK like a free-for-all, but so does Wall Street to the average observer. Yet to the people who understand how Wall Street works, it’s actually an orderly (and somewhat predictable) environment with a very defined set of rules and ways to profit thereby.
The people who "work" Wall Street on a regular basis, in a strategic way, actually do benefit. Most of the rest of us just grumble about their success ... without ever bothering to see the intentionality and careful study that went into their actions.
In this same way, social media is essentially investment banking. You put in value strategically, day in and day out, and leverage the rules properly, in order to start drawing out payments (literally) in the form of human interactions and ultimately, sales.
This means your contributions must become strategic, controlled, and very purposeful. While everyone else is running around shouting, you walk in and start changing the conversation with a calm demeanor and wise words.
Post by post, you drop coins into your social media bank. When enough time and social value has accrued, you start cashing out.
The question is: If social media is a bank, how much intentional content are you banking every day?
- Further Reading:
Great Ideas Accrue Value Over Time
Building and Engaging a Community
Relationships are the new currency
HACK #2: You control the conversation by leading it.
I alluded to this in the previous section, but the power on social media really is in your hands.
What??? I know, this sounds impossible.
But truly it is.
To beginning of power is knowledge. Knowing exactly why you're in the world, how your work can help others, and what you want to accomplish, is critical to stepping up and leading a conversation.
After all, a leader is a guide. You can't guide a conversation that doesn't have a destination. That destination is always your brand message.
Once you know your message and what you’re trying to do in the world through your products and services, you can take that message out. It becomes the platform on which you stand. It also serves as an inspiration for EVERYTHING you say on social media. (For me this is true in my personal and professional feeds, both.)
So while everyone around you is spouting random political alarmism or spamming you with photos of what they had for breakfast, you drop regular bombs of truth, wisdom and guidance that are all based on your core brand message. You reach out to encourage people who are living out aspects of your message, and connect with those who are clearly struggling to see how you can work together.
Talk about game-changing.
You’ll be shocked how, after six months of doing this, people start showing up in your world, booking consultations, and hiring you just because of the strength of what you say.
Your social media networks will start to notice that instead of reacting to the discourse, you are actually driving it.
Congratulations! You've become a leader, simply by taking the time to say consistent, intentional things for your brand.
- Further Reading:
Don’t Join the Conversation. Lead It.
The Value of Controlling The Conversation
4 Tips for Leading the Conversation on Social Media
HACK #3: Great content can last a long time—maybe forever.
So you wrote a blog post last week, and now you’re discouraged because you have to write on again this week. Welcome to the content gerbil wheel.
Except … you don't always have to start from scratch.
Do you get where this is going?
All that GREAT content you've written should continue to be repurposed and re-shared. This drives traffic to your site while not actually increasing your workload. (Can I get a high soprano and a shaft of morning sunlight here?)
One of the biggest mistakes we make with content is that we don’t recycle it nearly often enough.
The blog post you wrote last month can be run again with a different headline next month, and a quote from the article the month after that. You can send it to a prospective client who’s on the fence about purchasing from you.
You can also turn that post into a little video using PowerPoint and voiceover, or write a white paper based on it, or give a workshop with that basic content as the premise.
That one piece of social media content isn’t a one-time throwaway. It’s a valuable asset that can do work for you over and over again.
There are even platforms like CoSchedule or Edgar that will help you know which of your blog posts and other content actually got the most social engagement. The platform will push you to re-release that content with new, creative headlines or in creative ways in the coming weeks, months and years.
You can even "bank up" old content and have the editor push it out periodically to catch new readers and get Google excited all over again.
Because unless you’re writing about a topic that is absolutely specific to this week or this year, your audience can benefit from that "old" content (and find it attractive enough to hire you) for months and possibly even years to come.
How would it change the conversation if you thought of every blog post or meme or other social content as part of a "marketing library" you'll continually reuse?
That changed the game for me.
- Further reading:
Clever Ways to Repurpose Your Content
50 Places to Repurpose Your Content
How to Successfully Repurpose Content
So in the end . . .
Yes, social media can be painful. And it can feel very disempowering. But that’s only if you look at what’s on the surface, instead of what’s below it.
Get serious about your business content for six months, and I dare you to come back and tell me it didn’t transform you. And grow you business, too.
But also understand, it's not that simple. Turning your brand message into social media content can be a real challenge.
I’d love to be your accountability partner, cheerleader and "idea spark," to help you get organized, set a simple strategy and get consistent about banking your value in the Wall Street of customer interaction.
Do you love or hate spending time on social media marketing? What's the biggest shift you'd like to see in your social media marketing this year? Comment below.
Ready to expand your brand and your audience by crafting a more powerful message? Schedule your FREE 1:1 consultation here.