4 Marketing Tips To End Your Over-Reliance On Social Media
By Kayte Ferris
For all the negativity that can come with social media, not to mention its sucking of our free time, there’s no denying that it is a powerful tool for our businesses. It’s an amazing way to connect with customers in real time and market your business in a really creative way
However, over-reliance on social media is rife (hey I’m guilty of this too). It’s just so easy to pump energy and focus into the channels where your audience is already hanging out and where you get such an ego boost by looking at those numbers ticking up. Yet relying on someone else’ business for the success of your business is never a safe place to be – social media should be one of your marketing tools, instead of the marketing tool.
But, where on earth do you start?
Everything you do and every decision you make should be based on your knowledge of your audience. Every image should be styled to please them, every blog post written to help or entertain them, every product created with them in mind. So when branching out your marketing, you need to start with your audience as well.
Say you’ve only really been using Instagram so far: you know that’s where your current audience is. But where else do they like to hangout? Are they Pinterest fiends, do they move between Instagram and Facebook or do they prefer reading blogs and magazines? Your audience may be attending hundreds of little parties all over the internet that you’re not even at. Find out where else your audience is, and be there too.
This doesn’t mean that you replace an over-reliance on one platform with an over-reliance on another. It means diversifying your channel selection and being equally amazing in every place.
Move onto owned channels
But even a diversified social media strategy still relies on other people’s businesses for your own success. Social media is vital, but you need a safety net should they all shut down tomorrow. And that safety net is owned channels.
An owned channel is just that – a space that you own and control. It’s your website or blog, your email list, your studio space or physical shop. Anything that you control how it looks, what goes there and how your audience interacts with it.
Putting more energy into owned channels gives you more bang for your buck, and it gives you a greater return on effort. You could be working really hard on your Instagram gallery, but the algorithm could change and only 5 people might see your posts, making all that time and effort wasted.
Similarly, no matter how hard you work on your Instagram strategy, the gains you make are pittance compared to the gains you're making for Instagram itself. A tool should work for you, not the other way round. If you work hard on making your website as beautiful and interesting as it can be, the only winner is you (and your audience who get to visit such a great site).
Encourage your audience to move over from social media to your owned channels. Offer an incentive to sign up to your email list, promote your blog posts through your tweets, use Stories to show the amazing things you’re doing elsewhere. Use your physical space by holding an open studio or hosting a workshop to meet and connect with your core audience face to face.
Your owned channels should be the core of your marketing efforts, with the other tools satellite-ing and feeding it. Make something you control the thing that your business relies on.
You’ve probably seen a lot about the importance of email. For a while, email marketing went off the boil as people starting to trust it less and also the social media boom took people’s attention away from their inboxes. But now, thanks to better spam filters and our saturated feeds, good quality email marketing is having a resurgence. Particularly in the creative industries, where we are making a personal brand on social media, people feel connected with the people they follow and are happy to hear more from them in the privacy of their inbox.
There are many schools of thought when it comes to email. I’ve signed up to things for a free course and then received three emails or so a week from that source – at best I get inbox blindness and just ignore the emails, at worst I unsubscribe. I think that I am slightly on the over-protective side when it comes to my own inbox, but certainly the worst thing you can do is irritate someone with your emails.
I always advise an infrequent but highly valuable email. How many emails do you actually look forward to receiving? Probably one, if any. That’s the case for me. And the one I look forward to receiving comes once a month, is full of actionable value for me and I don’t hear from them for the rest of the month. It may seem like a waste of opportunity, but that newsletter is the only one I consistently open, so when the odd sales email comes through from them once or twice a year, I open that too.
It can take time to come up with an idea for a great newsletter or email strategy, but don’t wait to start collecting addresses. There’s no better time to start signing people up than now, so stick a form on your site, create a lead magnet and get connected with your biggest advocates.
We know who we are on our favourite social media channels. People know us, we know them, we’re comfortably in our little niche and we know what we do. When branching out it’s really easy to overthink things and start doing and saying things we’d never do on your favourite platform. More than ever when working over multiple channels you need to keep a brand consistency. People will be coming to you from lots of different directions and if you can’t offer them the same things they came in for they’ll disappear again. You’ve created a consistent feed, now you just need to extend that.
So this means using a consistent style of imagery, not using a Pin template of the New York skyline when your Instagram is all botanical illustrations. Maintaining a consistent tone of voice when you’re writing and speaking, blog about the same things you’d write in an Instagram caption and that complements your product. Make all the ends tie up for your audience.