So, I know that most people tell you that in order to market ANYTHING online, you MUST be active in social media venues. I’ve read many, many articles on why and how it’s impossible to promote your business online without using social media. I’ve heard it referred to as the oil that makes the engine run, a necessary item without which your online business cannot grow. Friends have told me of its fantastical uses and how it can help stay in touch with friends, grow a following, connect with individuals that can aid your business, etc.
Is this true? Is there any way to grow an online market without using social media? Who is doing this? Is anyone doing this?
Well, yes, the short answer is that there are many people who are having success online without using social media. How? Well, before I get into the how, I must define what social media is. What is it?
In short, I define social media as a specific way of networking with other people. A social media website is one in which (1) sets up a profile of who you are / what you’re doing and (2) allows you to “connect” with other “walls” (i.e. profiles) to stay up-to-date with how those profiles are changing through the use of “friending” them. I have the last phrase of that sentence in bold for a specific reason. The way in which a social media site networks to individuals is different from how, say, a blog “networks”. When someone subscribes to a blog, it’s very much like a newspaper or magazine subscription. It’s simply a way of the individual saying, “I like what you write and want to receive more of your publications.” In no way are the newspaper writers (i.e. bloggers) saying to the subscribers the same thing. It is not a two-way tunnel. The subscribers receive the updates that they wanted, and the writer is not constantly bogged down with having to check up and read every one of his subscriber’s life news (a win-win). Sure, they should be genuinely interested on whether the subscribers are happy or not, but let’s be honest, what newspaper writer, in addition to all the stresses of having to write good content, wants to be bogged down by every single subscriber’s personal life? Social media networking, on the other hand, is a two-way street. When one profile connects with another, a tunnel of communication and update “swapping” is created. It is much like two individuals meeting one another and saying, “we share common interests; let’s keep in touch!” Examples of social media sites would be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+. I would not rate YouTube as a social media website, because again, its way of networking is like a newspaper and not like a telephone call.
So, you ask me, “What’s wrong with this? It seems to make the connections more personal, and isn’t personal what we want?”
The answer is no . . . not always. That is, sure, if you want to spend hours every day scrolling through the selfie pics your friends have taken over the last day or two, then yes, social media is just for you. I’m not saying that everyone who owns social media does this, but those who are doing this aren’t abnormal in this venue because they are doing exactly what the social media engine is designed to do. They are using the two way tunnel to swap information back and forth at generally a daily level. Personally, I would much rather enjoy a glass of lemonade with a friend on my front porch than spend my time on a digital screen every day looking at pictures they’ve taken of themselves throughout the day. This doesn’t mean I don’t like to keep up-to-date with my friends’ lives, but how much is too much?
However, I digress because this article is not about personal connections. It’s about business, and that’s exactly my point. For the use of marketing a product, people used to understand the clear lines between business and personal connections. And . . . after all . . . wasn’t the Internet’s original intent designed as a marketplace? Why does “dot com” stand for “commercial”, and why is there no “dot per” for “personal”? That’s because the internet was originally designed for businesses and non-personal information to be easily accessed and connected, and it had an added feature of connecting personally. And, let’s be honest, no business can spend the time (or should even want to spend it) going through personal pictures/notes of what every one of their individual clients has done throughout the day.
Email is convenient because it allows us to write letters to each other without much post problems or waiting-time-duration. This works for both business and personal use, and I think that’s great! You can say to your friends, “Hey! Instead of writing once a month, let’s email once a week!” This is a two-way tunnel that does not come with any of the added pressure of “wall updating” that broadcasts personal information to everyone you have ever connected to through that venue. Or, if you’re a business, you can say, “Hey, let’s share email addresses so that if you have any problems with your product, you can contact us and we can respond the same day!” Again, this is an example that, though using a two-way street of communication, does not come with the constant open connections that you automatically have with every one of your “friends” on a social media site like facebook. The email address is there if they need it, but in no way are they expected to be constantly emailing – quite the opposite, in fact.
The problem is that the way social media is designed is personal – too personal. I find this to be a problem whether or not you are wanting to set up personal or business contacts, but for the purpose of this article, it is especially bad for business. No, I’m not saying that businesses shouldn’t adapt a “personal” flair. After all, businesses are only around because of humans, and humans are . . . personal. However, businesses are being pressured into subjugating themselves to a venue that is just not designed for best business operability. They are doing this because personal conversations are owning the internet right now, and so in order to speak in this marketplace, they think they need to adapt the same style.
But it doesn’t have to be this way!
As stated earlier, there are many who are making an online market successful without the use of social media. I used to have a LinkedIn account, which, by the way, is designed for business use, and do you know what I found? It did not help me overall in the slightest. Sure, I thought it was cool at first to connect with what I thought to be a few celebrities in the field I was then pursuing. But it did not help them find me important enough to listen to my voice. Instead, I spent so many hours attempting to gain more contacts that didn’t know me from Adam and would never lift a finger for me if I wanted them to – nor should they be all-so-interested in what I’m doing because they have hundreds of other connections that are wanting their same attention. This is because the social media market is flooded and people resort to abusing the system, “friending” someone just to increase a number count. Rather, I only want people to follow my writings who are actually going to take an interest in what I say. If they’re not reading me, then we’re wasting time and resources to stay in touch.
If you are having similar unsuccessful results in the business online marketplace, or are tired and rundown with social media (and there are only a very few people I talk with who are using social media and NOT rundown with it) then consider changing tactics to use the internet as originally intended. You can leave your social media sites and find other ways to market online, and there are a great many other, more effective ways!
Below is a list of website types that, given the definition I’ve given above, do not fit in social media. I strongly recommend you do at least several of them if you, like me, are reading this to avoid the pitfalls of social media.
- Blogs: Whether it’s through WordPress (what I’ve chosen), Blogger, or some other platform, blogging is a great way to promote your business without the pressures of and wasted time that goes into social media. And the good thing about blogs is that there is not a limited number you can have! If you aren’t getting the following you need on one blog, you can create another that talks back and forth with it. By so doing, you’re creating your own inter-network that allows traffic to explore more, and gives them more opportunities of chancing upon you.
- YouTube: YouTube, or any other video provider, is much like a blog except the media format is visual and not textual.
- General Websites: It is generally required to have a place that compiles your business together and let’s the customer/client explore what you do. This is like your official front door on the market street, though this website needs to be promoted through other venues listed here as well as word-of-mouth.
- Other pre-established marketplaces: These are websites like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, etc.
- An Email list: I have this one in bold because I think it’s very important. An email list allows you to send your information on the doorstep of everyone who signs up for it. As previously stated, email is a great tool for both personal and business uses. Here, you allow individuals to personally sign up for your emails, and then you can send them the latest updates and products that you have, and they go right into the customer’s “mailbox”!
A brief note about email: I recently took a webinar with someone who has mastered online marketing techniques (Jeff Goins), and though he uses social media to a certain extent, he admits himself that at least for writers (he is an author) someone who signs up to an email list is 100 times more likely to buy your product then someone who “friends” you on social media, and he had this tested.
If you’re going to succeed online without social media, you must use all the resources you have available. This isn’t bad, though, because you get to succeed without succumbing yourself to the hours it takes to keep/maintain social media sites and the peer pressure that follows, and your efforts will be far more rewarding. Social media is arguably ineffective for businesses when considering the number of connections you spend obtaining, because most of these connections are not consumers. The ratio between connection and consumer in social media can be depressing for the business owner. Yet, if you can market your product online by using more specific tools, why not?
“But, but, but! Marketing online without social media is uncommon these days.” What days? You have to remember that “these days” only refers to the ten to fifteen years that social media has been around, and only in the last few years have businesses been pressured in joining up. The internet has been around longer, and the fact that it is considered “uncommon” to market without social media only means that there is a bigger spot in the marketplace for you to enter if you utilize other, more effective and specific venues.
This is why you cannot find me on Facebook or Twitter. Instead, you may see me in the evening time if you’re driving down my street, and I’ll be on my porch, having completed my online marketing work for the day, drinking lemonade or tea with a friend or a book and enjoying the atmosphere of nature. Would you care to join me? There is always an extra seat.
Joshua Reynolds on Conservative Cornerstones – Author of Children’s Books / Family Stories – Finding Conservative Thought in Olde Books. Check out my Authoring Conservatism Post. Look up my two books, The Williams House and Treasure on the Southern Moor in my bookstore!