When you think about promoting your business online, most people will think "social media" is the way to go - They will have heard the stories of how social media has led to companies being valued in the Billions and how companies have made billions off the backs of some platforms like Facebook and Twitter. But with my background in SEO, this is something I've always been fairly sceptical of. Recently I was talking with a few friends, who also work in digital marketing, about whether we've finally reached the stage where we need to "jump off the social treadmill".
Here's what I believe about the world of social media, and why it maybe time to quit the treadmill.
Working Out At The Gym Has It's Advantages
Many of us have a love-hate relationship with gym's and our membership of them. We love the gym because it helps get us fitter and improves our physical shape, but we hate it because it can be hard work, we love it and hate it simultaneously for the fact that you can at the same time admire and hate the other hardworking toned people at the gym.
But occasionally you get overwhelmed by it all, you feel inadequate and out-of-place. You decide to take a few days or weeks off and suddenly you don't want to go back and you give up.
It's the same in the world of social media, exactly the same. You look to the masses of likes for certain businesses on Facebook, like Asda with nearly 1.3million likes or even local / regional based pages can get masses of subscribers such as Henderson's Relish (a Sheffield sauce with local followers) with over 33,000 likes, at time of publication. We admire them and the work they do and want to copy them, many hope and try with mixed results.
But is the Social Media gym really the be-all and end-all for your businesses web presence and digital marketing?
Can you reach a better audience by jumping off the social media treadmill?
The Case for Quitting Social Media
"It's Exhausting Keeping Up"
Unless you are willing to spend your days on social media, monitoring your accounts, engaging with customers and learning from other companies - you will be always playing catch up with your competitors. The constant pursuit of the shiny glorious goals at the end of the rainbow is a futile struggle to "better yourself" you may think, but actually you are usually wasting your time and ability in other areas to achieve a grand sum of nothing in 99% of cases.
Platforms Are Still Maturing
The digital age in which we live means that technologies are still changing and emerging, platforms are evolving - some are going to the bone yard and new ones are being born, there also the odd phoenix-like platforms to consider. Social Media today IS ready for business, almost every business can and should be using it, however 95% of businesses in my view take the "all eggs in one basket" approach - they think ooh Facebook will get me traction, or twitter will get me engagement - then when something new like Google+ come's along they don't consider it to be worth it because its a new platform with relatively low numbers of users. They then ignore the re-born platforms like MySpace which for some business model's is amazing.
What is clear is that unless you've a death wish in the long run, the all egg's in one basket scenario isn't something you should be considering. This also again plays into the above issues of "it's exhausting" to use them all of the time!
It's Not Your Area Expertise
We all have our areas of expertise and passion, it's only when the two join we can get the most out of any marketing of any form. That is why I always say to clients I work with that I can't do this work alone, and they can't either - we together are a great sum than the total of our parts. Together we can achieve much more. This is the ethos I, RedStar and Small Talk Social Media (a good friends social media service) work from.
I would never pretend to be an expert in ladies clothing, art or anything like, but you maybe and its the knowledge and the skill of a social media expert that can make the difference between you spending 40 hours a week building and maintain a social profile and outsourcing it to an expert who can do it in a fraction of the time at a fraction of the real cost you would incur with staff costs.
Business is about how you leverage your skills, and delegating to others things you aren't amazing at.
The Gym Is Just For Starters
It's all very well aspiring to look amazing and have a great following but until you break "outside of the box" and get off the stupid treadmill you will never move beyond the gym. Brands like Virgin still have a brand within social media and the gym, but they are marathon runners, they left the gym for the big wide world and the decided to Do Something.
Richard Branson is a true entrepreneur, he started by aspiring to be like others and then better than them. He then broke outside of his comfort zone and did something, he started with magazines and mail order, he opened a recording studio and today... well, today Virgin as a brand is world renowned and probably one of the biggest brands in regular media coverage you will ever know. Virgin is made up of many companies across the world, you can find an link to each of them over here.
Breaking Free From "The Gym"
Last week I wrote a very short, 100 word article. It was designed to get you and everyone else to stop reading and do just one thing - anything that favours you or your business.
The feedback has been amazing, my inbox is filled with pledges that people want to "keep secret" of things they are doing, rather than leave a comment. The article was designed to get you to do something, and not reading a blog post, it was to get you thinking for yourself rather than imitate what others are doing. It was about breaking free, so that you make a difference.
It's the same with the social media treadmill effect if you don't break free and do what you are best at, run that marathon and let someone with expertise run your social media marathon you will always be left thinking "oh they look good, lets copy them" - concentrate on your own passion and skills, and let others with expertise look after your social media.
GET BACK TO DOING WHAT YOU LOVE!
Seriously, go to the gym and be happy thinking oh that looks good, but you wont grow your business if you are not focused on what you love and let others do what they love. Richard Branson doesn't do all of virgin's social media or media coverage, he lets his team do that - he focuses on what he loves, innovating products and services whilst having fun. It's the same in every big business around the world, they are a success because they don't "go to the gym" and stare & admire, they get on with what they love and grow their business by investing in that.
Now break free from the gym! Go On, Go!