We’re living in an era of social media. Never before had been so easy to advertise your product or a service you have, socialize with people on the other side of the world, engage in the interesting conversations.
When I started with my coaching and consulting business, I was determined to do it 100% online. I wasn’t interested in sitting in an office, even if that would be my own office. I wanted to operate on a global scale, and I wanted to be able to reach people irrespectively where they lived. Obviously, with my knowledge from opening my previous businesses, I knew that the first thing I had to think about would be my online presence. Facebook group, Instagram, Youtube videos, Pinterest posts… and that’s how it started – almost three years ago. That three years long journey has been rewarding, but damn, also filled with the mistakes along the path. Looking back, and also comparing my experience with those of my clients, I can confidently say that I’m able to share objectively which mistakes I think are the most common.
- You’re not creating the community. This will be shocking – but, forget about the numbers of followers. In the beginning, I thought that the more followers I had, the more successful my business might become. I was jealous of all those successful entrepreneurs out there with ten/hundred thousand followers, and I thought that was a sign of success in their business. I was naïve. The fact is that many of those fat accounts you see out there bought their followings, and the numbers you see on the “follower” column are inflated. Simply put, they have fake followers. Even if you have just a few hundred followers, you can make more impact than someone who bought their ten thousand. Concentrate on building a community with your followers. Be there for them, be personal. Don’t succumb to buying fake followers, it will backfire. Instagram and other social media have clever systems able to detect the “strength” of your account. If you have some ghost accounts or bots following you, your account loses its ranking, your posts will be displayed to fewer people. And lastly – no bot ever is going to purchase what you’re selling. So, my advice is – to concentrate on creating a community of likeminded people. Forget about how many followers you’ve got.
- You don’t have a brand strategy. Honestly, when I started the first time, I thought – how difficult this can be? I’ll be posting about the topics I like. And so, I did. I thought I was clear about what I was selling, but the truth is that my messages were confusing and scattered. Till I didn’t come across “a brand strategy”. And boom, my life changed. Without your own brand strategy, you won’t be able to get closer to your potential clients. It sounds terrific, I know. Especially when you’re starting, and you don’t know what to do first. Why would such a strategy be important? But believe me, it is. If you don’t do anything else, please spend some time on your brand positioning and strategy. Without it, you’ll be shooting out the messages that might come across as scattered and confusing. The right audience will have difficulties to find you. Often, people will have to guess what you’re actually selling, and trust me – nobody has time for that. By looking at your profile, and your stories, you must be able to grab the attention of your audience, and your audience must be able to decode within a glimpse of a second WHY they should follow you, and potentially buy from you.
- You’re forcing yourself to do it. My first business coach – bless her – was forcing me to post daily without any consideration about how I felt about it. She was right – as a business owner, I should have been posting daily. The issue with this approach, however, was, that I didn’t feel inspired to post daily because I felt pressured to do it. Sometimes, when I forced myself to do things I was told to do, they didn’t come out right at all. Of course, now I know that one of the biggest issues at that time was not having any business brand. I didn’t know what I stood for as a brand, hence I had to force myself to post things, and desperately seeking for inspiration. I had to “find” topics I wanted to speak about instead of addressing the issues my audience would benefit from. Most importantly, my audience could detect when I wasn’t authentic. Authenticity is the key in the social media world, and people can unmistakably detect when you’re pushing things down their throats without any juice. They will catch you on it. Hence, my advice – in contrary to the popular beliefs about “daily” posts – if you don’t have anything interesting to say, then rather stay quiet. You can reshare some of your old posts, or share some of the posts that interest you at the other accounts. But stay authentic, and try to speak about the topics that might interest your people. Or even tell them about your lack of inspiration. But – BE. AUTHENTIC.
- You’re selling, not serving. That was one of the biggest roadblocks for me. Obviously, as a business owner, I had to promote my services and had to be cI felt like I was manipulating people when I was trying to push the things down their throats, and trying to convince them that I was the only person out there who was able to resolve their issue. It wasn’t me, and I didn’t believe my own words. Ultimately, people felt manipulated. An issue with this approach is that YOU FIRST DEVELOP A PRODUCT without considering what are the real needs of our audience. When you shift this approach and start asking WHAT DOES MY AUDIENCE NEED, you not only become more authentic in your messages, but your marketing will be seen as a genuine need to help someone. People love that approach because they can see you as someone who genuinely cares about their wellbeing, and satisfying their needs. My advice – listen to your audience. Ask people what are their pain points, and see whether you can do anything to help them. If what they’re facing is out of your area of expertise, then most probably you didn’t build the right audience, to begin with. (Hence, go back to the point #1 and #2 and fix it). Start serving, stop selling.
- You didn’t choose the right medium. On one side, there’s an ideal audience you want to reach (and by this point you hopefully know who they are if you did your homework), on the other side are your natural skills and inclination to certain types of social media. In the beginning, I was trying to be everywhere – Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest. But the truth is that if you’re trying to be everywhere, you end up nowhere. Your messages are not targeted and specific enough, because it requires an enormous amount of time to craft them for each media. Hence, my advice – write down the criteria of your offering. Is it photogenic? Can you present its qualities over the pictures? Think about Pinterest or Instagram. Is it something you can present in talking? Consider youtube or TikTok. In any case, concentrate on 2, maximum 3 main media where your right audience sits.
- You’re not consistent. I know, you might be thinking now “Didn’t she say in #3 that her coach forced her to post daily even when she didn’t feel like it, and that was a mistake?” I still stand by the #3. I still believe it’s wrong to try to be inspiring when you don’t feel like it. But here is the trick you can use – WHEN YOU FEEL INSPIRED, HIT IT ON. I can guarantee you that at least once in a week you’ll feel that tingling in your fingers, you feel an urge to share, to create, to motivate the others, to speak about your business. Use those moments, and create high-value content. Prepare your posts for a few days in advance. Schedule them through some schedulers (there are many tools you can use, but my favorite one is Buffer and Hootsuite). Schedule for yourself a time in your calendar when you’ll dedicate at least an hour-two to creating your posts. Trust me, it’s working.
- You’re trying to be perfect in everything you’re talking about. Ouch. This is exactly what I was doing at the beginning. I was not showing any of my flaws. I was afraid that by showing my own wrongdoings, I’d lose my credibility as a specialist in my area of expertise. I couldn’t be more wrong. When you’re trying to sell anything through social media, you’re building trust with your community. People must trust you to buy from you. They must relate to you, your experiences, and also – your mistakes. If you’re trying to convince them you’re always perfect, unmistakable, they naturally won’t trust you, because guess what – nobody is always right, and nobody is always perfect. Don’t be afraid to speak about your mistakes, don’t be afraid to show your vulnerability.