I’m not going to beat around the bush here.
I spend hours on social media each week. At least 2 hours a day on LinkedIn. A bit of Facebook and Instagram. A splash of TikTok.
After all, I spend an hour a day marketing myself through a podcast, a LinkedIn profile a blog and sometimes even video.
But I’m not doing that for fun.
I’ve been on social media since Friendster which was considerably before MySpace. I’m a little tired of social media at this point.
But I am not blind to the fact that around 50% of all my new business is coming in through social media – primarily Linkedin.
So clearly there is a way to make money on social media. But what is it?
Summary: Turning a social media time-sink into your most effectice sales pipeline
- Create long-form written or video content
- Break it into multiple short format social posts or videos
- Ensure that your short form content always points toward the long form stuff
- Spend time building connections and relationships with the right kind of people on social media
- Allow time for those relationships to move from disinterest in what you do to a warm prospect
We might need to change our idea of what we think social media is.
So, social media is that place where we get as many followers as we can and then delight them with our content, generating as much engagement as we can so that when we have something to sell to them, we can get as many sales as possible. Right?
That is the approach that we’ve all been taught.
Throw in some inspirational quotes. Mix in some funny memes and a “Happy Mothers Day” post and we’ve got a well-balanced business presence on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn.
So why is no one making any money on social media doing this?
Most likely because the point of social media is to connect and converse with others. Not sell to them.
Gary Vaynerchuk, author of the 2013 book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, outlined an approach that he believed was key to using this fledgling social media thing ten years ago.
Offer useful, actionable information or valuable tips. Then do it again. Then do it again. Only then do you ask for a sale.
In 2020, he updated this to something more akin to Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, reflecting that we add even more value, even more times, before introducing something to sell.
Social media is a terrible sales channel.
The absolute failure of Facebook Shops and Instagram Shopping and the mediocre results of Pinterest shoppable pins and even TikTok Shopping Ads is showing more and more that social media and shopping don’t go hand-in-hand.
Even though every social platform thought that the world, like China, would take to social shopping with great enthusiasm.
So we shouldn’t sell on social media then?
The experience from the social platforms would lead us to believe that selling on social media really doesn’t work most of the time.
Some outliers generate a lead here or there and get a sale every so often through their Facebook Shop. But the general feeling is that trying to sell things on social media is not easy.
Unless you are paying for ads. And this is where social media does shine.
The combination of interest targeting and the ability to understand when someone is in the buying process means that ads on Meta, Google, Pinterest, TikTok and other platforms can get sales where organic posts can’t even come close.
So what is social media good for?
+ Proof of life: showing that you’re still in business and active, which is quite reassuring to a customer about to drop $3000 on your product
+ Storytelling: placing your product or service in the world of your customer by sharing stories of how you solve problems
+ Education: providing information that helps people make a decision about your products and services without shoving it down their throats
+ Social proof: case studies, testimonials, customers sharing how that were able to solve their problem with your product or service
+ Connection: forming solid relationships between you, your product/service and the people who buy it where they feel heard and appreciated
+ Communication: customer service, feedback, complaints and a channel for people to reach out to you for questions or support
Social media is excellent at these things.
Great. So I’ll do all these things. When do I start making money?
If you want to start making money straight away, buy ads and close this email.
If you don’t want to buy ads, continue reading.
For retail products, the best channel I’ve seen working is influencers.
Get your product into the hands of people who have followings that are appropriate for your product and get them to share it.
This is the default action now for non-ad based selling of product on social.
For services and consultants, coaches and those who sell their time for money, you need to do the following:
+ Start by writing one long-form piece of content. Around 800 – 1200 words. This content should either answer a common question about what you do or be a compelling story that teaches a lesson relevant to what you do.
+ Break this long written content into at least seven small social media post ideas (text, graphic, video, etc) and maybe even consider using it to form a podcast episode.
+ Publish the article on your website or Medium and make sure that at various points – or at least at the end – link to something else relevant that you’ve written, a video you’ve recorded or some other long-form content.
+ Schedule your podcast and social media posts. Ensure that anywhere that you post your shorter content, link it to the longer content. People might notice you and like you on social media, but they won’t trust you until they see more depth of your knowledge and experience through your longer form content.
+ Turn your blog post into a newsletter and send it to a list of people you’ve dealt with before or who have contacted you recently.
+ Always have some way for people to see more of your stuff or book you.
Then once you have a pattern of this being produced it’s time to start connecting, reaching out, commenting on other people’s posts, getting attention and sparking curiosity enough for people to visit your profile, see that you have lots of content and start exploring it.
Naturally, this is a highly simplified process that has lots of moving parts – and I’m happy to help you work all that stuff out over a few sessions – but the principles are quite simple:
1. Produce longer content that shows your expertise
2. Point to it from short social media content that gets attention
3. Do regular work at growing your connections and following
You’re building a pipeline that takes people from Knowing You to Liking You to Trusting You.
And when someone trusts you, they’re far more likely to give you their money.
I won’t lie to you and say that this process is easy. It’s going to take some commitment and work. But a few weeks in, you get much better at it.
And it won’t take long for that first enquiry to come in now that you have both a following that likes you and prospects who trust you.
A few ways that I can help when you’re ready.
If you’re struggling to anything useful from ChatGPT, it’s likely because you’re not getting the prompts right. The good news is that I have a free email-delivered mini-course that gives you a formula for generating interesting, human-like responses from ChatGPT for your content. Get it here.
Not everyone works best by reading things online or watching videos on YouTube. Some of us learn better when someone shows us how to do the thing we’re trying to you. You can book me for a one-hour 1:1 digital skills session right here.
My free mini-course on how to write better for social media – and even your blog is a five-week email-delivered set of modules that you can do in about 10 minutes each. At the end you’ll be a better writer! Grab it here.
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