How to be less dependent on social media marketing

Not so long ago, social media was the cool new kid in small business marketing. Email marketing sounded old hat in comparison and I saw plenty of blog posts explaining why email marketing was dead. I never believed that of course, because however cool social media was, you were never in complete control of your Facebook page likes or your YouTube followers. If the platform closed down your account it could be hard to get it back. And you couldn’t download your followers’ details as a back up, either.

That said, I don’t think any of us predicted just how bad social media would get in just a few years! Here is a list of what’s gone wrong, borrowed from business mentor, Ann Hawkins:

  • Many huge advertising accounts have already left Twitter for safer ways to advertise.
  • The money that Musk borrowed to buy the platform is accruing $1 billion annually in interest alone.
  • Last year Twitter had less than $1 billion in revenue.
  • Meta is losing billions of dollars and lots of staff are being laid off.
  • Facebook is losing money and not attracting new users.
  • Instagram is losing the battle with TikTok (many of us who loved Instagram for the art, design and photography don’t want to watch videos of artists dancing, so we are leaving – Helen).
  • TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance and considered to be a risk to personal data.
  • There is a huge kickback against tracking and targeted ads with Europe bringing in legislation to ban tracking.
  • The programmes that syphon off ad revenue to finance criminal activities are being exposed causing many brands to go back to dealing direct with legitimate publishers.
  • Google Ads is part of this massive dark money operation.
  • The big tech companies are at war with each other.
  • Apple’s latest update means they get 30% of any money spent on boosting social ads bought through an iOs device. This will directly impact all the ad revenue on social media platforms.
Email marketing robot cutting the sting to a balloon representing social media

Whether you choose to carry on using particular platforms or not, it’s essential that your business doesn’t depend on any of them. So what should you do? There are many other marketing methods including print advertising, networking, SEO, PR, speaking, podcasting and attending conferences but here I’ll focus on steps email marketing. Some email marketing tactics work well in tandem with other methods, too.

Here are some ways you can use email marketing to reduce your dependence on social media:

Get your social media followers on a mailing list

Encourage your followers onto a mailing list by offering them something of value. This can be a free course, download or online event, or the value could be in the newsletter itself.

Always be transparent about what you will send subscribers, though. For example, if you offer a free PDF and intend to follow it up with marketing emails, they must consent to the marketing emails as well as the free gift.

If you meet people face-to-face or speak on the phone, ask them if they’d like to join your mailing list, but tell them about the value they will get from it first.

Do say: ‘I have a monthly newsletter where I share tips and news on exactly what we have just been discussing, I think it’ll really help you with XYZ. Can I add you to the mailing list?

Don’t say: ‘Can I add you to my mailing list?’

Please don’t be tempted to use scraping software to extract email addresses from LinkedIn. This is against LinkedIn’s terms, probably against the law and won’t make you popular with the people you email either!

Get people you meet at events on your mailing list

If you have a stand, stall or shop counter of any kind, ask people if you can add them to your mailing list. The best way to manage this is to have a smartphone, tablet or laptop where they can enter their own email addresses directly into your email marketing platform. Many email marketing platforms have mobile app that you can use.

This saves you from having to type in email addresses off a sheet after the event, and is better from a privacy point of view too because you won’t have a list of other people’s email addresses sitting on a clipboard on your table.

You can ask people to follow you on social media too if you like, but a subscription to your mailing list is far more valuable than a Facebook page like, especially as Facebook may never show your page in their feed.

Remember to send emails to your list regularly and consistently

This one sounds really obvious. But I speak to many people who get fired up about setting up the mailing list, freebie and welcome email then run out of steam when it comes to sending the emails.

Email marketing is a long game and you need to do it consistently, so whatever is stopping you from emailing regularly (not knowing what to write, not having the time, not having a clear aim for your marketing), identify it and tackle it ASAP.

Where else can you capture email addresses to keep in touch?

As a small business you can’t usually afford to just ‘be visible’ and hope people will remember you when they need you. Many of us have been (sort of) doing this on social media by posting regularly and expecting people will see our tweets, videos and Facebook posts often enough that we stay fresh in their minds. But with social media reach dropping off dramatically in recent years, this may not have been as successful as we thought at the time.

True, email marketing isn’t perfect in that sometimes your carefully crafted messages will end up in a spam folder. But in general, your emails stand a better chance of being seen than your Facebook posts. Plus your email marketing platform will give you a great set of stats so you can see what is going and fix it (with no additional cost for ads to get reach) if you need to.

Think about all the places that you could ‘capture’ email subscribers:

  • Your ‘about’ page on your website
  • Your email footer
  • At the bottom of your blog posts
  • Any printed material
  • Slides you use in presentations
  • Show notes pages if you appear on someone else’s podcast (with permission of course)
  • Bio lines at the bottom of articles you write on other people’s websites (again, if they allow it)
  • And many more.

Then get to work adding those links! Again, make sure you tell potential subscribers about the value they will get from joining rather than just ‘click here to join my mailing list’.

In defence of social media

Social media does have its place in marketing and I’m sure it will be with us for many years to come, although I’m also sure individual platforms will rise and fall. I’m hopeful that a better, more ethical kind of social media will emerge, too.

Social media is good for engaging those people who aren’t ready to join your mailing list yet and for re-engaging those who have drifted away from you as well as the true fans who see you in their feeds on a regular basis. So it can work very well alongside email marketing and it can still be fun and creative.

Just make sure your business doesn’t depend on it!

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