Over the last eight years that I’ve been doing digital marketing and the last five years of running courses across Australia, I’ve had the privilege of speaking with hundreds of business owners about their lives and enterprises. In the last couple of years, I’ve asked everyone who’s participated in my courses, Blogging for Business and Social Media Savvy, to write down their fears about blogging and social media.
Anonymously, people have written down their fears and these have been displayed on a wall for all to look at. One by one, I see people smile with recognition of their own fears in others’ words. It feels good to know you’re not alone. And, by bringing our unconscious fears into the open, we lessen their power.
So here’s what you’ve shared you’re scared about so that you can side-step these fears, emboldened by the knowledge that our fears are shared and can be overcome.
Not being relevant
The number one fear that course participants shared was a fear of being irrelevant and uninteresting and not getting any interaction from their blogs or social media.
We all want to be relevant – which is very different from being ‘on trend’. Relevance is about being useful and valuable to our tribe and community through sharing content, connection, counsel and services that are needed, wanted and recognised.
Unlike other types of marketing such as advertising or email marketing, blogs and social media are inherently public so it can feel exposed and embarrassing when interaction isn’t forthcoming.
How to provoke interaction, interest and relevance
A lot of the time we feel irrelevant or perceive our blog or social media to be lacking in interaction is because we’re comparing ourselves to big established bloggers and online influencers with giant communities. While it’s smart to keep an eye on what our competitors, colleagues and industry are doing, by continually comparing ourselves unfavourably, we’re neglecting to recognise and respect the community that we have.
We are building businesses, not fiefdoms. A small community that is engaged, referring others and buying is far more valuable than a large community which simply serve to prop up the owner’s ego. Keeping in close contact with our communities is smart business – we’re lowering our risk because we’re far more knowledgeable and receptive to what our community needs and wants.
To provoke interaction, interest and relevance, remember that you need to be social – so get out from behind your computer and meet people! (Yes, in real life.) Those big bloggers and business owners you admire? They don’t build giant online communities through staying put – they attend industry events, introduce themselves to movers and shakers, line up Skype dates and put in time and effort to collaborate, help, and refer others.
In Blogging for Business and Social Media Savvy courses, we talk about finding our online mafia – this is hugely helpful for increasing interaction, interest and relevance, as well as to increase your referrals and your enjoyment of business.
Wasting time on bad return marketing
Most sole traders and small business owners are busy, with multiple demands on their time and attention. Adding blogging and social media marketing to an already over-stuffed schedule can seem like crazy talk.
As business owners, we want to know that the time and money we’re spending on marketing is well invested. We want to see a robust return on investment (ROI) and feel confident of the outcome of our marketing activities, especially if marketing is not something we enjoy.
How to improve your ROI
Social media and blogging aren’t going away. Having given people the opportunity to quickly and easily have their say, publish their opinion, and use the internet as a social tool (in conjunction with good old fashioned warm bodies in a room), we aren’t suddenly going to give this up. Businesses that lag behind, perhaps protesting that blogging and social media are just passing fads, are only doing themselves a disservice by taking too long to come to the party.
Business has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. Consumer expectations are far different to what they once were. Websites, a social media presence and a business blog for people to investigate a business in more detail are now expected, not ‘nice to have’. With more competitors and websites than ever, strategic blogging can also be invaluable for helping your website rank for relevant search phrases.
If you aren’t going to blog for business or do social media marketing, what other options do you have and are they working for you?
Print and broadcast advertising is as expensive as ever, with arguably lower ROI (depending on your industry, how established your brand is, and the nature of your business model); expos and events are also expensive to run or get involved with, with little short-term return; and having a website is simply not enough – you need to be driving people to it (through blogging combined with social media marketing).
Finally, whenever I suggest adding a new task or routine to an already-overstuffed schedule, I always look at how people might cut something else out. Things such as time spent with back-and-forth emailing to line up meetings (rather than using an online scheduler), endless admin due to antiquated or paper-heavy systems, creating your own graphics or writing your own copy when you may well be better off outsourcing this (a professional designer or copy writer should easily pay for themselves in the return they bring), or – dare I suggest? – raising your prices so you can work fewer hours.
Being wrong and being too personal
Most humans hate being wrong. We want to be clear and understood, eloquent, knowledgeable, insightful, and original to boot! Those new to blogging tend to be incredibly wary of being judged, ridiculed, misunderstood, intrusive, annoying, way too vulnerable and clichéd. Fair enough.
Perhaps we’ve seen others make a fool of themselves. No doubt we’ve judged others for their online marketing and wondered what they were thinking.
How to be right and liked all the time
You know what I’m going to say, right? It’s impossible to be liked by everyone. And, counter to popular opinion, the internet is not rife was mentally-unhinged people with violent predilections. It’s true that the online arena emboldens people to criticise others more than they would likely do if face-to-face. However, it’s also true that the vast majority don’t bother to disagree or criticise – they simply click away.
We cannot be liked by everyone and we shouldn’t try. We are not seeking to make friends through business, though that’s often a byproduct, we are seeking to provide a service and create and curate content that is relevant, useful and valuable to the exact type of person we’re seeking to attract (our ideal clients).
If we make a mistake, we aren’t obliged to bear this for the rest of our living days – we can (and should) edit and delete.
Writing is something we all do every day. We can get better at it. And writing blogs or updating social media is not rocket science – it can be learnt.
Perhaps most importantly, blogging for business and doing social media marketing enables us to be far more open, receptive, collaborative with our prospects and clients. That means lower risk – because we’re more intimately connected with what our market wants. That means a greater number of word-of-mouth referrals – because we’re more visible and stay top-of-mind with far more people. That means we’re expressing what makes our business unique and why people should care. And that’s good news for your business.