Hey Rainmaker, it’s time to answer YOUR questions!
Just a reminder, or an intro for those of you who’ve signed up in the past week…
This summer, I’m writing a book while you watch.
But on Mondays, I take a break from that and stick with my old “theme day” of Mailbox Monday. I take a question submitted to me by email at [email protected], and answer it here. (Want your question answered? Just send it my way!)
Today’s question, about social media.
Specifically, it was asked by a copywriter, asking for my advice on adding “social media” as a service category in her business.
But if you’re not a copywriter, read anyway. Because the lesson does apply to all businesses.
Here’s today’s question…
I have a marketing background and am now a freelance copywriter, editor and proofreader.
I’ve been avoiding the social media game for a while now and have been sticking to traditional writing and marketing. But the need for social media writing is increasing for Blogs, Facebook posts, LinkedIn articles, Google+, etc.
I’m wondering whether I should expand my skill set as a copywriter and include social media writing? And if so, what are the basic writing principles for social media?
Alright, Yvette, this is a good question!
First let me weigh in with a direct response to the question asked, then I’ll flesh out the critical perspective for all businesses and marketers.
I don’t do any social media, really. And I make a great living, working about 15-20 hours per week for clients as a copywriter.
Social media can be okay, but if you don’t want to do it, why? You’re going to stink at it if you’re not naturally inclined, predisposed, and motivated to be very active at it.
It has some appeal to some marketers, because it’s trendy. And it can be used to start relationships that drive prospects into the fold, so they’ll (hopefully) later buy from you.
But it’s almost always pretty far away from the sale. Meaning, folks don’t buy off social media. They connect, follow, get to know, get interested, go off social media, eventually further the relationship, and maybe buy someday.
Business results generated from social media are the exception, not the rule. (Here I’m talking about social media POSTING, NOT advertising on social networks — which is another topic entirely.)
You will get paid more for less work if you focus on where you can drive business results (lead generation, direct selling) than on helping a business follow a fad and create relatively low-worth content.
I’m not really the guy to talk about how to write for social media, other than you want to work to get the user OFF social media and ON to your email list, ASAP. That’s the best way to drive business results with social media. (And the best way to get their attention in the first place is to have an attractive personality — see below!)
But that’s getting ahead of ourselves…
To social media, or not to social media, that is the question…
First off, I AM on social media. That’s not what I’m saying here. But — for the most part — I don’t use social media in the hope of generating direct business results.
Why? Because it’s incredibly difficult and time-consuming to use social media to generate business results. And most importantly, it’s hard to control the flow of new business it generates, and hard to measure the impact it is having. (Versus paid advertising, where you can buy traffic or impressions and measure results.)
There ARE countless success stories of folks launching businesses and getting incredible results with social media.
But let me tell you what that looks like. It looks like posting to social networks every day, multiple times per day. It looks like being available, probably more than 40 hours a week, to respond to your followers, keeping the conversation going. And it looks like making social media a core priority in your day.
A friend of mine, Dan Meredith, recently launched a Facebook group, to killer success. He’s in there, all day, every day, having conversations with followers. He’s putting up pictures, and videos, and other content, all the time. All the time. All the time.
And he’s managed to make offers to the group for consulting, coaching, and copywriting, and is having a ton of success.
Others have used similar methods, or social media in conjunction with content creation (on YouTube, blogs, etc.) to actively grow a following, and hopefully, a business.
But there are probably 100X as many people who have tried to get active audiences on social media, who are falling victim to the trap of effort masquerading as accomplishment. That is, they’re always ON social media. They’re just not getting the results out of it.
Social media has an X factor that’s hard to replicate…
Seth Godin wrote about “Purple Cow” marketing. His argument was that a purple cow, in a field of regular-colored cows, would be worthy of being talked about… It would be remark-able. Remarkable.
Godin argued that in order to be successful in marketing (at least, his style of marketing), that you needed to be a purple cow. You need to be something or somebody that other people want to talk about.
The folks I know who’ve been successful in social media haven’t been on there because they felt it was necessary for their business.
They’ve been neck-deep in social media all day, every day because they want to be. It’s a natural extension of their personality.
Further, that personality is one that people on social media are naturally attracted to.
They have a remark-able personality — and they want to express it through social media.
This omnipresence and remarkableness together form a bit of that X-factor that make social media successful for them.
If you’re not naturally inclined or gifted on social media, you have a couple options…
First, you can decide you don’t want to be there, or don’t want to try to use it actively to generate business results.
There are trillions of dollars in revenue that are generated every year that have nothing to do with social media. You do NOT need social media to run your business successfully — and you probably won’t ever NEED it.
(E.g., you can make a lot of money with a boring business that simply identifies a target market with problem you can solve, and make a benefit-oriented offer to that market directly through offline media. If you have a registered business in the US, you’ve probably gotten a ULINE catalog, for shipping, office, and industrial supplies. It’s bigger than the Bible, and it’s boring. But they’ve figured out how to send that giant, boring catalog out to every business in the US, multiple times per year, to fulfill their supply needs, and build a profitable business on that — no social media required.)
So, you can simply choose to focus on other scalable methods of reaching your customers, presenting them with offers, and getting them to take action and do business with you.
Email, for one. A good, solid website. Direct mail. Salespeople. Magazines and other print media. The list goes on.
There are a ton of ways to get in front of your prospects. Many of them have — on average — much better ROI than social media (paid online advertising, to email opt-in and follow up is probably the best combination of ROI and scalability online).
Second, you can do it, but not rely on it.
Going back to copywriting, I will never make it a focus of my copywriting or marketing consulting business to do social media for clients.
I may help them develop a strategy to use social media to get folks to sign up for their email list. And I may help them write social media posts to drive traffic to their offers.
But in general, it will never be a focus for me. And never something I sell a la carte.
In my non-copywriting business, I do use social media passively to drive some interest in these articles, for example. To drive traffic to my site, and get email registrations. It’s not a main focus, but if there’s a connection that comes up where it makes sense and adds to the conversation, I will, for example, link to an article in a Facebook conversation.
I’m not doing it because I think I have to. I’m doing it because I want to and it makes sense. And that actually makes for better social media conversations anyway.
The main lesson for ALL is to do what works for you…
The long and the short of it is, figure out what works for you.
If you’re naturally inclined to doing social media, do it for a while. Really establish yourself there, by learning its best practices and following them. Make sure you track results — website referrals, opt-ins, new leads, sales, revenue. Figure out your ROI on time and money invested. If it makes sense to continue, especially if you can keep improving ROI, keep doing it.
If you’re not naturally inclined, don’t do it! If a client insists you need to do social media but you don’t want to or don’t feel capable, find another client. You’ll be doing them a disservice to take them on, if it’s a weakness or an area of little interest.
Even if other folks ARE getting good results in social media, you’re under no obligation to do it yourself.
The most successful people I know in business have gotten that ways as much because they decided what to say “NO” to as much as what to say “YES” to.
And that’s probably the biggest breakthrough of all!
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets