Answer: It depends.
Social media is often misunderstood among solo entrepreneurs.
Even marketing experts tend to oversimplify social media, turning it into a binary, “this camp or that camp” choice.
This article is part one of a 3 part series where I really want to go into more depth and answer some of your burning questions about social media for your wellness or coaching business.
First, let’s take a closer look at our collective love/hate relationship with social media.
What I like about social media:
1. I enjoy building a community, sharing, and taking in other interesting content from other entrepreneurs.
2. I like using social media, mainly Facebook, (yes, I know, I’m working on that) to make new friends and stay in touch with old friends because I live in a very isolated area where English is seldom spoken.
3. I can get some clients from social media in a way that feels organic and natural.
4. I use other channels that are labeled as “social media” but are really not social channels, but search engines.
For the record, I’m not against social media as a marketing tool at ALL.
Sometimes I resent the algorithms, distractions, fluff, and most of all, the amount of time I spend on it on some days. Although I am getting better at managing it all.
I also don’t think that social media alone is the most efficient or sustainable way to acquire high quality leads over the long haul.
Many entrepreneurs don’t really understand how social media can fit into their own marketing strategy.
Using it successfully, to me, is all about how to make it serve us instead of putting in endless hours that only end up serving the platform.
I started writing a listicle, and then decided that it’s not enough. To kick this whole series off.. I want to briefly address mindset and some deeply held beliefs about social media (regardless of age, experience, or frequency of use) that may also be getting in the way.
I want to emphasize that the first thing to address is the mindset of the business owner, because social media can get complex and even a little weird.
I’m not talking about who someone is as a person, but how they show up in their business. Their business acumen, development, and yes, maturity. This is a concept that the book The E Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber explains very well, and I will take neither credit nor blame for it.
If you are a beginner at marketing, it’s normal to go through an infancy, chilhood, and adolescent stage in your business, but they can be accelerated by learning.
If you are already treating your business like a real (mature) business, you can skip ahead to part two of this series: 11 reasons why social media should not be the only tool in your toolbox.
If not (be honest) continue reading.
The first thing is to stop thinking ONLY as the technician in your business (working in your business) and spend time looking at this from the perspective of a CEO (working ON your business)
I’m going to go ahead and say it… many wellness entrepreneurs are not only not great at business.. they are proud of it and will defend it, even as they continue to struggle. They ONLY want to act as the technician or employee in their business. They don’t want to have to deal with any of the managerial or CEO duties.
This includes setting up systems so that you eventually move away from doing all the manual work in your business, because this is how to achieve a profitable and sustainable business over time.
I’ve even seen entrepreneurs who do work that may not seem to be conducive to repeatable systems.. such massage therapy, make it work, and brilliantly, I might add.
Mindset affects the way that the business owner thinks about and uses social media, whether it is:
- As a visionary business owner
- As primarily from the perspective of a consumer
- As a distraction
- As a cool “super tool” that takes the place of another process or tool that actually may be more effective for generating leads
- As something to avoid altogether.
Once you are willing to be the visionary leader and gain some clarity about how you choose to use social meda, you’ll probably be ahead of the pack.
Here are three common examples of entrepreneurs who aren’t quite yet at the “mature business stage”and how they perceive the role of social media in their business:
A young female massage therapist posts in a Facebook group wondering why she’s not getting any clients from her Instagram account and is asking random laypeople to “share ideas” about how to solve this problem.
She might not even know where to begin, and is a newbie on social media.
Her business is in the infancy stage.
She is looking for some kind of direction, and it appears that by asking this question, she’s assuming that simply by posting, clients will decide to book with her immediately, but only if she learns the “secret sauce.”
She wonders if someone has some “tips” she can try out to “get more clients from her IG account.”
And the tips certainly do start rolling in.
The problem here is that she doesn’t know what she doesn’t know, but she doesn’t know that she doesn’t know what she doesn’t know.
Often in this scenario, when someone who IS qualified chimes in with free and unpressured advice or specific questions about her overall strategy, it’s usually ignored. Since every business is different, the real experts that show up know that in order to help her, they are going to need more information, even to dispense free advice in a comment.
But guess who gets thanked for their advice? If you guessed the one that gave video tips, you would be correct.
The first step is all about acknowledging that you don’t know what you don’t know, and seeking out some good beginner sources of information to get started.
We all need to start somewhere, and even I don’t know a lot of stuff that I’m not even aware of yet!
Sometimes it’s a little trickier:
A 60 year old life coach who is a self-described “technophobe” dislikes anything to do with using social media to market her business. She tries it once, without fully understanding how it can work within the context of her own unique business and preferences, and “fails” because she simply hasn’t bought into it or given it a chance to actually work.
So she uses this temporary “failure” as a reason not to take a close look at what’s working and what isn’t. Because she doesn’t like making data-driven decisions and prefers to rely only on her “gut” or emotions.
The resulting emotions “prove” that it doesn’t work and give her justification to quit. And in some ways, I don’t blame her. I’ve felt discouraged before, and this feeling sucks.
A good mentor wouldn’t say “yeah, you just aren’t cut out for this.” They would listen, but still look at what’s happening objectively, and make suggestions about what can be tweaked, or teach her what metrics to look for and what they mean so that she is in a more empowered place.
She needs to know that this is normal and no reflection on her competence.
There are times when social media throws even the experts curve balls that have them wondering what the hell they got into this for.
This is where she might benefit from a coach that understands where she’s at and help her take small steps with social media, using channels she feels comfortable with, integrate it with what she already has, and to find ways to make it easier on herself.
Let’s say that she also avoids the foundational work of establishing her niche, ideal client, story, message, positioning, and making data-driven decisions (a scientific approach) just as our younger entrepreneur has done, because she’s only concerned about being in the present moment, and not about creating a system to handle many more clients in the future with ease and grace.
This mindset is very common in some industries, and it’s not really great for growth and sustainability, to be honest.
A 55 year old woman who is fairly savvy with technology and learning new systems is spending so much time on what’s new, that she neglects thinking about tried-and true ways to begin marketing her business.
She has a Facebook group and a neglected Instagram account and that’s about it, and she’s not getting the kind of traffic she would like to see on her website. Because she’s overwhelmed with distractions and the present moment, she missed some opportunities to grow her business without having to hustle quite so much.
She still doesn’t know what she doesn’t know. In fact, the more she learns, the more she’s convinced of it, and this is also causing some self-doubt and overwhelm. She spends too much time trying to make sense of conflicting perspectives about marketing, doesn’t trust her own judgement at times, and isn’t always focused on the right next steps.
She’s in the painful adolescent stage of her business.
She also needs to let go of some of the manual work and perfectionism that’s causing her to spend too much time on social media, and find ways to deal effectively with distractions.
She is a perfect example of a coach who needs a coach.
This woman was/is me.
As you can see, social media is often misunderstood both by young, frequent users and older business owners that don’t see the benefit of it and even resent it. It’s misunderstood by even those who some might consider an expert.
I can’t, and won’t talk about it without putting it in some kind of context.
If you are reading this, I’m going to guess that you aren’t interested in oversimplifying the complexities of social media today, and are willing to take on the role of the leader of your business.
There are many ways to make it work for you, even though it changes rapidly.
It’s also important, in my opinion, not to rely SOLELY on social media. I’ll even go ahead and say that it’s risky.
Find out more in Part Two of this series: 11 Reasons Why Social Media Should Not Be the Only Tool in Your Toolbox.