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

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.

Once social media evolved from being purely social to commercial, marketers scrambled to find ways to “monetize” it. I did, too.

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.

Post Relevant Content

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 Post Too Much

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.

Monitoring Traffic Isn't Everything

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.

Remember the Purpose of Social Media

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

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2018 Heidi Thorne


Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on April 16, 2018:

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

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 16, 2018:

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

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on April 10, 2018:

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!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on April 09, 2018:

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

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on April 08, 2018:

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!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on April 08, 2018:

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!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on April 08, 2018:

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 from USA on April 08, 2018:

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 W Fish from Raleigh on April 07, 2018:

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.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 07, 2018:

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.