A social media presence is absolutely essential in order to run a successful online business – or so that’s what they tell you.

 Ok. So, I’ll admit it. I have been one of those “they’ who tell you that you absolutely need an online presence in order to get noticed. But more and more I’m starting to question my own advice.

Now, if you’ve been following me for even a minute, you’ll notice that I have a pretty active online presence, so you might be wondering, “What the heck are you saying? You post almost every day!”

Yes, it’s true that I post on my social media sites almost every single day. And I’ll be the first to tell you that social media has helped me get noticed and I’ve even gotten a customer or two on Instagram.

But, the bulk of my business has most certainly NOT come from my social media presence. So, it’s gotten me thinking if you really need a social media presence in order to be a success.

In this day and age, it’s getting harder and harder to get noticed on social media. Sites like Facebook or Instagram are pretty saturated and it’s getting harder and harder to stand out – especially because both Facebook and Instagram’s algorithms are designed to make it hard for businesses to get noticed. In fact, if you want to get noticed as a business you either have to play what I call the “beat the algorithm game” which includes liking and commenting almost incessantly or you have to pay for advertising.

I feel like social media has become one of things that we all do because we’re afraid of being left out!

If you’ve invested any amount of time on your social media platform, you start to believe that if you don’t actually post, people are going to forget you or that you’ll never find your audience any other way.

You start scouring your feed for likes, engagement and new followers. It can make you feel like you’re owned by your social media stats. – especially if your numbers start to go down – for no explicable reason.

The truth is that social media has the potential to help you grow your business. But, by no means, is social media the end all-be all that everyone claims it to be.

Because the social media companies largely control how our messages are actually seen (and they don’t ever reveal how they do it), it can be a maddening exercise in trying to get noticed. You can have the most incredible content, but it can still get lost because you haven’t magically mastered the algorithm that gets you noticed.

There is little you can do to increase your subscribership on social media these days – except maybe pay for ads. It’s no mistake that Facebook’s advertising revenue keeps going up year after year. In 2010, Facebook’s ad revenue totaled approximately $1.9 Billion. By 2017, those numbers rose to a staggering $39.9 Billion dollars!

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Facebook limits your business interaction even with your own followers. Maybe you’ve noticed the drop in interaction yourself. You could have thousands of followers but only get a handful of impressions and even fewer comments.

The fact is that Facebook’s organic reach is down to 1-6% of your overall followers! That’s it.

If you’ve been feeling like it’s futile to post – well, it is kind of getting that way.

So, why do it? Why go through all the hassle of creating a social media calendar, creating posts, making images and driving yourself crazy!!

The answer isn’t completely simple. I still advise that people make their mark on social media – but to be a little more selective and do some spend time growing your following outside of social media in important ways.

1. Pick Your Social Media Platform Carefully

With the insanity of Facebook changing their algorithm at a moment’s notice, it’s not surprising that businesses are moving to other platforms. Personally, I find Instagram more satisfying, but have also started to run into the same problems I’ve found on Facebook.

Since Facebook now owns Instagram, the algorithms have made it increasingly difficult to get new followers who really want to stay and be a part of your message – no matter how many hashtags you use.

So, instead, platforms like LinkedIn are starting to gain in popularity again.

You can also choose to use Facebook just to drive people to private groups where you can nurture and engage with people on a more intimate and personal basis.

2. Engage with Your Audience Through Podcasts and Speaking

Even though it seems like everyone these days has a podcast, finding an opportunity to connect with people through this medium can be highly effective – especially if you can land on a podcast where your potential customers are hanging out.

Don’t have one that meets your needs? Start one. A podcast can be a particularly interesting way for you to build your audience and really get to share what it is that you want to say.

I also think that speaking at events and connecting face-to-face has more of an impact than anything else. One of my clients has a very large following on social media and is active every single day – yet, the best way for her to build her business has still be teaching and speaking at events where her potential customers hang out.

3. Focus on Your Product or Services

It still goes without saying that having a stellar product or service beats everything. When you have satisfied customers, the word gets out and people want to refer business to you.

Instead of spending countless hours worrying about how many followers you lost today, your time is best spent figuring out how you can improve your goods or services and meet the needs of your clients.

You can also focus on building loyalty programs or reengaging old customers – because as statistics point out – it’s easier to get repeat business than it is new business.

4. Set realistic goals for Social Media Posts

Lastly, set realistic goals when posting on social media. As I said at the outset of this blog post, social media can be helpful for your business and I think it’s definitely helped me build authority and kept me in the forefront of people’s minds.

I use social media as simply another method for me to connect and provide information that is relevant to small business owners who want to grow their business. Social media shouldn’t be looked at as some magic pill – it is only a part of an entire system designed to help you grow your business and get noticed.

If you can set goals such as increased engagement, reminding people of your services or products and driving traffic back to your website (where you can grab your email), then you’ll feel a little more in control and not feel like social media is a measure of whether your business can be an ultimate success.

Linda

P.S. Are you frustrated with social media or has it been a bang for your business? Share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear your feedback.

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