Shannon Fable by Shannon Fable
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Social media is often touted as the answer to building the business of your dreams, which, at first glance, makes a lot of sense. Social media can serve up millions of potential customers at little to no cost. However, upon further inspection, there are some unforeseen consequences from putting all your marketing eggs in this one basket. 

Here are the top three:

It's a Noisy Space With Changing Rules

Social media is often thought of as the key to your organic marketing strategy. Organic marketing means a plan that generates “natural” traffic to your offerings versus paid advertising or sponsored posts. In other words, you work hard to create great content that gets seen by your target clientele, with the goal to turn those eyeballs into likes, comments and shares, which will convert to paying customers somewhere down the line. 

However, social sites are a business, too. And they make a good living off their paid services, just like you do. Therefore, the rules of the organic game are forever changing and, to make it more challenging, there’s no manual that explains exactly how it works at any given time. Organic reach is tough to come by and fueled by the ever-elusive algorithm. While one week it’s your shared content that serves to expand your post reach, the next it might be live videos, stories or some new feature that was just introduced. You could spend hours and hours creating content, researching the latest way to get more views, and still come up empty-handed. 

This leads us to ... 

The “Costs” of “Free” Marketing Can Start to Add Up

Using social to post and grow organically might not cost you money, but it does cost you time. And time is money! So, while you might not be paying to promote your posts, you should keep an eye on how much time you are spending trying to master the platform(s), create content, post, interact with your own posts and others’ posts, as well as checking to see if what you’re doing is working and tweaking your approach incessantly.

If you want to use social as one of your marketing strategies, be sure to find the platform where your target market is most active rather than trying to use them all to cast the widest net. Then, make a plan you can stick with for consistent posting. Finally, consider batching your curation and content creation time to eliminate the potential vortex that can appear when you create new content every day.

However, I still stand by the recommendation that social should not be your only focus for one fundamental reason ... 

You Don't Own It

Your followers, your likes, your members—the platform owns the “lead.” Simply put, you do not. You have their attention if they stay on the platform, and you stay on the platform, (and, of course, as long as the platform exists). If you or your followers leave (whether by your own accord or due to some random act of the social media gods) or the platform is dismantled, everything you’ve built will disappear in a heartbeat. 

Feel free to start relationships on your preferred social platform but find a way to move these relationships into an email marketing system or CRM (customer relationship management) system and go from there. Keep in mind, you cannot simply “mine” the names from your followers and add them to your list—you must receive permission to market to your leads by having them “opt in” on a landing page, website or similar.

A final note, just in case you’re tempted to cancel your social accounts: While relying entirely on social media for marketing is not a good idea, abandoning the medium altogether isn’t wise either. Your use of social media doesn’t mean you have to strive to become an influencer or have thousands of followers. However, when used wisely, social media can be a great way to inexpensively create and deepen relationships, establish yourself as a category authority, and deliver valuable content to clients, potential clients, and people who might know people who could become clients.