Why I Don't Care If My Social Media Followers Become Customers

Updated on April 7, 2018
heidithorne profile image

Heidi Thorne is an author and business speaker specializing in sales and marketing topics for coaches, consultants, and solopreneurs.


Once social media evolved from being purely social to commercial, marketers scrambled to find ways to “monetize” it. I did, too. And from around 2009 to 2013, I realized income from my social media connections, particularly from Twitter. I knew these sales leads were from social media because that’s how I often received the inquiries.

Today, that’s not the case. These platforms, especially Twitter, have become news feeds instead of online networking. But you know what? I don’t really care if my social media followers buy from me these days.

One of the reasons is because the bulk of my blog traffic comes from search engines. That’s positive in that it shows what I offer is recognized and relevant. By comparison, traffic tracked directly from social media is a small fraction of my total blog traffic.

So why do I bother with staying active on the social networking sites?

You're Using Social Media Wrong

I hate to break it to you, but if you’re hoping to make sales directly through and from social media, you’re using social media wrong! You’re trying to turn it into e-commerce, email marketing or direct mail marketing. That is not its function.

Sure, you’ll want to occasionally post about your latest product and service offerings. The emphasis is on “occasionally,” which, in my opinion, should be 10 to 20 percent of your total posts at most.

Social media’s purpose is stated right in its name: Social “media.” It’s a media and public relations (PR) tool to promote your expertise and build your online visibility, including—and especially!—in search engines. To use it otherwise will just set you up for disappointment.

How Should You Use Social Media?

Given that social media will not be a click-now-to-buy-now e-commerce sales engine, how should you use it for public relations? Quite simply, become worth following so that you gain recognition in your market. That's inbound marketing.

Regular social media posts on topics relevant to you and your work help establish you as a go-to resource for whatever it is you do. A fun, off topic, or more personal post here and there helps you seem more human and approachable, but don’t make your posts a hodgepodge of topics. You want your followers to recognize you for your field(s) of expertise.

“Regular” can mean different things, depending on the social media network in question. For Twitter it can be several tweets each weekday. For everything else (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn), up to a couple times a day on weekdays could be enough. Whether you’re active on the weekends will depend on you and your business.

Don’t buy into the “more is better” mindset when it comes to your posting activity (especially any promotional posts!) in the hopes or encouraging sales because it makes you look desperate for attention. You could load up your followers’ feeds with YOU “commercials” which could make them want to stop following you.

Always provide valuable information or entertainment that your followers will want to consume.

How Do You Know If Your Social Media Marketing Is Working?

If you have a website or blog, track traffic from social media networks using tools such as Google Analytics. Monitoring monthly is recommended, with an annual review to see trends. Realize that seeing changes in traffic from changes to your social media posting strategy can take a long time. That's why I suggest looking at it monthly and annually.

For those that offer sales of products and services through a website or blog, there are programs (including Google Analytics) that can help track sales and the sources that generated them. This would be the ideal way to figure out if a sale has been made from social media channels.

However, in my case, sales of my products and services are not offered directly through my website or blog, meaning that they are offered through sites I don’t have a prayer of controlling such as Amazon, Fiverr, etc. So tracking traffic and sales conversions can be tricky or impossible. I’m sure lots of other solopreneurs can relate.

If you’re in a similar situation, that doesn’t mean you should give up monitoring your web traffic to your blog or website. Still continue to do that since if someone is visiting your website or blog from social media, you've piqued their interest enough to find out more about you.

Although it’s the ultimate goal, the purpose of your social media activities is not solely to point people to the top of your sales funnel. It’s to amass a friendly, warm audience of followers that can help you gather market intelligence, expand your online visibility through sharing you and your content with their own followers, and, maybe one day, become customers.

As I noted in my book, Business Competitive Advantage: A Handbook for Small Business Owners, Entrepreneurs and Consultants, your goal should be to become "Friended, Famous and Found." That is: "Friended" means you have a social media following and audience, "Famous" means you are recognized in your community or field of expertise, and "Found" means you have online visibility.

Don’t force social media to make sales. Use it to make you and your business more visible online.

Don’t force social media to make sales. Use it to make you and your business more visible online.

— Heidi Thorne

Disclaimer: Both the publisher and author have used their best efforts in preparation of this information. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and both parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice and strategies presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional advisor where and when appropriate. Neither the publisher nor author shall be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential or punitive, arising from or relating to your reliance on this information.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Heidi Thorne


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    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 5 days ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Peggy! Glad you found it helpful. Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 6 days ago from Houston, Texas

      I believe that your tips are good ones. Thanks for the advice on how to properly use social media.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 12 days ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Linda! These things are always something to keep in mind on the social channels. Thanks so much for your support here on HP and on social. Have a great day!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 12 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

      You've shared some good advice, Heidi. I'll remember your suggestions as I post on my social media accounts.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 weeks ago from Chicago Area

      Flourish, most of my traffic is coming from search engines, too. I also think my social activity has helped that, even if the actual social traffic hasn't been stellar.

      Thanks for adding your experience to the discussion! Have a beautiful Sunday!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 weeks ago from Chicago Area

      Larry, glad to see that you've made a shift in your social activity and hope it's a good experience for you. Thanks so much for sharing! Have a lovely Sunday!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 weeks ago from Chicago Area

      Bill, that is a wise approach to take always! These days, I'll share my content, but rarely go in full-on sales mode. It annoys me when I see it. So why should I do it?

      Thanks for sharing your wisdom! Happy Sunday!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      You're right about social media becoming news (or entertainment) feeds. Most of my traffic now also comes from search engines, and I think it's helped that I've been promoting on social media for years.

    • Larry Fish profile image

      Larry W Fish 2 weeks ago from Raleigh

      I agree with you, Heidi. I used to think of Social Media as a place to get customers. My mind has changed on that too. Social Media now is a place where I have friends and that is all I use it for. Interesting read, Heidi.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I actually took this approach early on in social media. I was determined not to bombard my friends with news about my books. I wanted to use social media to get to know people,and by doing that I hoped to gain a loyal following. It is so nice to hear someone who agrees with that approach.

      Have a terrific weekend, my friend.