Don’t Waste Your Time On Half-Baked Outdated Organic Marketing Techniques…
It was over 11 years ago now, when I first started to build my social media following. Like so many others in 2011 I was obsessed with Gary Vaynerchuk, who then, pushed the idea that the best way to growth hack a business of any type, was to independently build yourself a personal social media following. I wanted to be successful selling my content writing services and so this is what I believed I needed to do. Gary made it sound so simple “just give value” and they will come. My primary strategy in the early days was to go into other people’s Facebook groups and do just this “give value” by posting informative and helpful things. Then, when I made a connection with someone I would shoot them over a friend request and collect them onto my personal Facebook profile and continue to build the relationship.
What really worked for me was an interacting strategy that I casually refer to “Facebook Flirting”. What I did was for every engagement that someone gave me, a like, a share or a meaningful comment – I would then go and give that back. Essentially just love bombing their recent postings so that notifications of my engagements with their content showed up to them frequently. This effort of engaging on their stuff as much as my own kept me top of mind, and showed to them that the relationship was reciprocal. Using this organic networking technique I developed a lot of high value relationships that evolved into clients and client referrals.
I know that this is not the most sophisticated strategy, but it has always worked for me. It is simple, authentic and based on old fashion trust and business networking techniques.
For over a decade I have supported myself and my family by selling my creative marketing services online with the majority of my business being procured via Facebook using this technique. I honestly owe all of the career propelling opportunities and much of my success to the fact that I was an early adopter of social media networking, and this approach of “Facebook Flirting”. I know that there is substantial power in the relationships I have nurtured and built online. I often joke that I may never be a household name but a very small niche group of people , mostly other Facebook using entrepreneurs, know my name and who I am and what impressive skills I have. Those who look down on Facebook may think bragging about this is like being proud of being popular at the nuthouse but, frankly some of the most ambitious, creative, and uniquely entrepreneurial people exist still, on Facebook ( “Meta” ). Despite Meta’s many user unfriendly attributes, it is still a great place to make new connections with this down to earth approach. That said, I am lucky because I did this very early, and have stuck with it over the years. I have put in the time and laid a foundation to build long term relationships that will continue to be valuable despite the now incredible competition.
So what wisdom do I have to offer to ANYONE who is trying to accumulate a following today?
There is so much advice online about how to market yourself, become visible, grow a following. However, the majority of current audience growth hacking advice, is either so time consuming that it is impractical to give to an adult or outdated because the algorithms and platforms have shifted so much.
Now that I have earned my stripes as an experienced social media ads manager, my best advice for any serious business owner producing content for Facebook or Instagram is to put some ad spend behind it and use their business features properly. Otherwise you end up in this “if a tree falls in the woods” situation where you may be putting out the most brilliant content in the world, but nobody sees it because the “algorithms” ain’t giving you squat without paying for it. And why should they honestly? That is some valuable virtual real estate. Currently there is so much competition for attention on Meta and not enough of an engaged and active user base. Businesses SHOULD pay to make themselves visible to the right audience because audience building in itself ( owning access to an audience ) has value. As unfair as it is to the dreamers with no budget to spend may find this, it’s a rockstar dream to think that your whole life will be changed one day if you could just hit a trend tailwind “and go viral” by posting content. I always say to clients that posting tons of content trying to go viral IS NOT a marketing strategy that I would recommend. Especially when Meta’s advertising features makes creating the illusion of something being viral easy enough.
All you REALLY need to do is create one piece of compelling niche’ content, get your audience targeting just right, throw the machine a couple hundies, and you’ll get the traction that you need. Will you actually succeed at monetizing it? Well that introduces a whole other conversation about product refinement and offer, that we aren’t going to dive into today.
But wait Brandie, you say you built your business using an organic tactic but now you are suggesting ads, hypocrite much!?
I am absolutely a hypocrite when it comes to what I do / did and what I recommend others with businesses do when it comes to their online marketing. I am unashamed about this because after a decade of execution and experience I simply cannot suggest this organic strategy as a tactic that will work. Yes, it is a good one. Post in groups, make real connections, nurture those relationships by being reciprocal for years, reap the benefits in the long term. Excellent for me. Excellent advice for some. However, like I said before, I started early, you are probably starting this today. Things in the online economy really aren’t the same anymore.
Here’s why it probably won’t work:
Too Many Bad Players Have Spoilt The Whole Game
The advice of going into Facebook groups, then meeting new relevant to your business people and then request connecting with them is out there in the ocean of common knowledge now and most people misunderstand it. Most people, desperate for some bites on whatever half baked thing they are selling do this half heartedly ( or not even as themselves but with a cheap foreign VA ) and then random request a bunch of people. They skip the whole step about being reciprocal and instead jump right into the DMs with a copy and paste pitch. It is gross everyone is fed up with it. Now most people know what is going to happen next when you get a “stranger danger” friend request and go out of their way to avoid it. The first step in the entire process “making the connection” doesn’t happen because nobody bothers to connect. Remember when I said that i used to do the “flirting” part where I would go back to my engagers and give them some attention on their stuff? Nobody is really doing that anymore.
People are just putting things out into the void, hoping to get attention – the art of giving attention back is being lost. Trying to be sincere on Meta and continue this approach ( be the exception to the competition and the noise ) feels fruitless. Even if you do have a good heart about it most aren’t looking for the authenticity anymore they are too busy ALSO trying to get their own stuff out there. It’s just a bunch of people blurting things out at random and talking over one another. Messy, distracting, and not much fun to get involved in. I don’t want that for you.
Hence why I do direct even newbies to paid advertising over this in-vain technique.
At least with ads you can get directly to the point and get your yes no answer. You can pay your buck, get your business on the roster and save yourself the redundant hours.
But Brandie you’re still going hard on Facebook with this strategy aren’t you?
Yes, I am still clinging on to Facebook – probably due to habit maybe even a partial addiction. Lingering on, chit chatting around the virtual water cooler with the random collection of “cool folks” whom I connected with years ago using this old school Facebook Group approach. Many of us feel like a tight OG crew, recollecting a time when the client harvest was fruitful and YOU COULD get quite a bit of traction simply by having some flair in how you showed up online. We have our rocking chairs out on the porch and pipe in hand, musing nostalgically for “the good ol days” before the online business gold rush. A time before every person and their cat took to the realms of the internet with hopes of instant fame and overnight fortune.
Final tidbit of thought, before you go
One of the main reasons why I started blogging here is because I am nostalgic for the idealistic time when you COULD write 1500 words and have others read it and genuinely respond and that be the basis of some understanding between you and them. Business growth technique discussion aside, the never ending battle for attention, the brief attention spans, the fluff and brevity of today’s content marketing space bums me out. Sure, I know that time is invaluable and who am I to ask you to read something that takes more than 15 seconds to digest, how arrogant? However, I am still one of the floundering few who loves to engage consciously with things, every day I warm to the concept of quality over quantity, i’d rather have a few meaningful than many meaningless; that goes for my connections, my relationships, the content I consume, the content I produce and most importantly how I use my most valuable commodity, – my time.