Coming up in this week’s newsletter:
- Saying goodbye to social media
- The power of first-party data
- Ignoring SEO for insanely great customer experiences
For the last month or so I’ve been trying to restart this newsletter. After taking most of the last 3 months or so off of social media, limiting my news diet, and spending less time engrossed in the things happening outside my own home. However, this has been futile.
Since the election it has been hard to ignore everything happening. Although I wasn’t exactly ignoring, I was hoping my reduction in attention would help me control the overwhelming feeling of impending doom. For this I failed. When factoring in what happened last week, it has made it impossible to concentrate on what I want to do. Instead, I’ve been glued to the trash fire of politics, pandemic, and the failure of leadership.
I have lots to say about all these topics. But, for this newsletter I will stick with how the social media and big tech fallout will impact small businesses in 2021. The pandemic has forced many, many businesses to fast track their digital tactics. Now that we are nearing a year into this, I’m sure many either felt they have a handle on how to be digital natives, or have sworn that this year will be the year things change.
No matter what, the political attachment social media has to the world is going to mean your efforts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others will be filled with fraught decisions. Rhetoric, propaganda, and political posturing will continue to grow on these platforms along with heavy scrutiny.
Keep in mind what social media advertising is good at, though. Social media ads only work if they:
- Are from a well known brand that is immediately recognizable and is sticky in the viewers memory.
- Offer instant gratification. The buy button only works with products that can be instantly purchased. Those of us in the service industry do not have a product that ships or a digital property that offers this feeling.
- Big budgets that can generate high volumes of impressions which trigger barely enough conversions to justify the expense.
For those of us who have been managing social media brands and storefronts for more than a decade know that small businesses’ organic feed does diddly squat. I’ve written about this many times, that organic discovery is dead. The only way you are seen on social is to pay to put your logo in front of people. As Apple and other products roll out more privacy features, even paid targeting on these platforms will be difficult.
I know this is a lot of doom and gloom for social media, especially for businesses that are looking for cost effective ways to drum up attention. But it’s important to emphasize that you have a limited amount of time. Spending it on social media, even without the backlash and scrutiny it is now receiving, was always a fruitless endeavor.
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Better than social is email. In reality, what I mean by email is actually first-party data. Social media is all about driving impressions and awareness with third-party data. First-party data is incredibly important to the future of your business, large or small.
This is why 2021 has to be the year you invest in a proper CRM. Having an easy-to-view (and easy-to-enter) database of your customers will allow you to build a better relationship with your customers, convert more sales, and keep customers longer. The best way to do this is through email marketing.
Using social media, you are wholly dependent on the whims of that company. However they want to change their feed, engagement, metrics, or policies are totally out of your control. Just ask any YouTuber who had the algorithm change and their views drop. You are at the mercy of the platform.
But with first-party data, meaning your own customer database, you are in control on how you communicate with the clients and prospects. If you do nothing else in 2021 with marketing, I highly encourage you to double down on your efforts to collect names and email addresses.
This is the single most important tactic you take in 2021.
For just as long as social media has been around, so has the emphasis on SEO. This drive on SEO has ruined content marketing for so many small businesses. They have been convinced that by having a website and a blog they will rank on page one of Google without much work. The secret to good SEO is producing high quality content over a very long period of time.
Yet, there are so many consultants and freelancers that promise to “get you on Google”. For the most part, you can accomplish the same thing they do for you with a summer intern and a good checklist for SEO 101. However, it will not get you to rank for generic keywords. There’s just too much competition.
So, stop writing content for SEO. Stop measuring the success of your content based on where it ranks and how many impressions it drives. Instead, focus on that first-party customer list. Write high quality content that is just for them. Focus on solving their problems. Take care of them. Care about them.
Creating a content marketing plan is easy.
- Address the problems your existing customers need solved.
- Thoroughly explain why your solution is unique.
- Make it easy for your customers to refer you to other people.
That’s it. Don’t worry about optimizing for Google. Instead, keep laser focused on taking insanely great care of your customers.
Wrapping it up
I’ve been going on for sometime, so I need to wrap it up. There is so much more I want to say, but I’ll save it for the next few newsletters and on the blog on my website so I can update it more frequently.
The key takeaway I hope you have from this is that you won’t miss social media. Personally or professionally. Unless you’re a direct-to-consumer clothing brand, there are so many other ways to better spend your time. Focus on taking great care of your existing customers and communicate with them directly. Give a fantastic customer experience and honestly care about them. Social media ads, likes, comments, and other engagement aren’t needed with this focus.
I didn’t have time for this today, but this is also something we should all pay more attention to in the coming year. This falls in line with taking extraordinary care of your existing customers.
Ties in with the social media notes above. Unless your advertising is growing your brand, don’t worry about advertising.
A good read before you publish a job posting for a marketer. I’ve said a bunch of times that digital marketing is just marketing, just with different tactics. This explains it pretty good.