I’m back and ready to dive into another Dominant Dogma. This time, you might think I’m a little crazy for even suggesting it, but I’m going to rebut that you need to use social media to market your business.
I know, it goes against everything we small business owners have learned in the last few years. But I think we all deserve to get to a place where using social media feels good and fun, and isn’t a source of shame or surface-level success. The Dominant Dogma tells us we must use social media to market our businesses, and I’m telling you: the choice is yours.
In this episode, I’ll explore:
- The dark side of social media
- How social media companies have lured us into a “free” way to market our businesses by turning us into their products
- How we can engage with social media in a way that feels unique and true to ourselves
- Where we can find connection in our communities outside of our little pocket computers
Listen to the episode wherever you like to listen to your podcasts
Hello hello, beautiful humans,
Today I am writing to you from my living room. My grey couch is holding me, the electric fireplace is on and I have a candle lit on the coffee table. It’s rather dark today with rain and clouds, but I’m fully embracing the cozy spring weather.
As we enter into this space, this conversation together, I invite you to take a moment and attune to your surroundings. No matter what is going on around you, or within you, simply pause. Notice what is around you that is stable. The chair or floor beneath you. The textures touching your skin. Where there is light. Where there are shadows. Not judging anything, just simply noticing.
Today, our focus is discussing the Dominant Dogma, “You MUST Use Social Media to market your business”. A narrative which is pervasive across small business to the point where many young entrepreneurs feel shame if they “don’t post enough”, don’t have enough followers, or their growth is seeming slow in comparison to their competitors who they see online.
We’ve covered some sub-narratives that correlate to this in other episodes such as episode #7 “They Have It Better Than Me”, however, today we are going to focus in a bit more, evaluating the dark side of social media, and the freedom on the otherside.
Before we go further, I think it’s important to point out distinctions between social media and other spaces where one can share content online. That said, Merriem Webster defines social media as, “forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos)” – source
This in mind a number of popular social media platforms include:
- Youtube – A social media platform and search engine
- Pinterest – A search engine with some social elements
- Online spaces such as your business website, blog, or podcast may have social components, but is likely not a social media platform in of itself.
Diving straight into the dark side of social media, Jaron Lanier, in his book, “10 reasons to delete your social media accounts right now” defines social media platforms using the acronym BUMMER which stands for, “Behaviors of Users Modified, and Made into an Empire for Rent.” A mouthful to be sure, but essentially what he gets at in his book is that due to social media being “free” in order to grow their empire these companies have made YOU their product, selling your attention and clicks to their advertising clients. Social media or “BUMMER” platforms have a goal of modifying your behavior and essentially hypnotising you into staying on their platforms, experiencing FOMO, then purchasing their clients products so in turn they make money.
While doing my research on this topic, I ironically posted a poll on my Instagram asking how social media causes folks to feel. One response in particular seemed to sum it up well, “[Social media] takes up way too much time. It feels like it’s zapping me of viable energy and life force.” Additionally, my poll results share a few folks feeling the love for social media marketing, but the majority felt that social media marketing is not for them, and they want out but don’t know how.
Now, the Dominant Dogma that states one, “MUST” use social media in order to succeed actually uses a similar tactic as the social media creators themselves. Modifying your behavior by making you feel like you’re missing out saying, “You “MUST” use social media as part of your business strategy, otherwise…well are you really a business at all? This message is typically preached from folks who are selling something to help you improve your social media game.
And that leads us to the freedom on the other side of this Dominant Dogma: The Freedom Of Choice
The fact is, you don’t need social media if you don’t want it, and if you do want to use social media, that’s ok too! It’s truly your choice. Business and commerce has been around for hundreds of years, social media is actually the new kid on the block that has happened to cultivate a cult like following. At the end of the day, to quote Jaron Lanier again he says, “The problem isn’t any particular technology, but the use of technology to manipulate people, to concentrate power in a way that is so nuts and creepy that it becomes a threat to the survival of civilization.” More simply put, as my coach Hayley Carr says, “the tools don’t have morals, we do.”
How do you engage with social media in a way that enhances your choice?
I believe the key behind engaging on social media and marketing yourself using social media begins by reintroducing “network” into the title. No longer looking at social platforms as a place to produce media, but instead develop a social network. Connecting with others, commenting, having conversations, and offering meaningful insight. With the introduction of like buttons and emoji responses social networks largely shifted to social media platforms. This shift was intentional by the platform creators as it supports an increase in addiction — that dopamine hit of a like notification that we’re far too familiar with — however the option, the choice, to engage as a social network, is still available.
A couple of prompts to support this type of engagement:
- What accounts are my people following? How can I engage with those accounts in a meaningful way? Perhaps leaving comments that share my perspective, or responding to someone elses comment sharing my support.
- Are my posts encouraging engagement or consumption? How can I develop deeper relationships with the people who do follow me (wether that is five people or five-thousand people). This is where polls and calls to action come into play.
I could share a great deal more on how to engage and market on social media from a place of choice, however I want to also speak to where you can market yourself off of social media. If you want to explore more around social media marketing, I encourage you to listen to episode #9 of the podcast or download my free, Integral Sales & Marketing Masterclass at megscolleen.com. In both of those places I share key cornerstones that you can keep in mind as you utalize social media to market your services and products.
For the rest of this episode, I’m going to share creative and somewhat old school ways to hop off social media for your marketing strategy.
5 Places You Can Build Connection & Market Your Business Instead Of Social Media
When chatting with my 1:1 Clients and folks in my Creative Business Accelerator, they often come up blank while thinking about places OFF of social media where they can market themselves. The Dominant Dogma that social media is THE place to market your business runs pretty deep, so many folks sit staring into space as they think of what else they could possibly do. Their neural pathways are utterly confused at this new line of questioning.
But the fact is, your people are everywhere.
1 – Your Local Library
Perhaps you can host a workshop sharing unique ways to use your products or share the knowledge you have to offer. This not only puts you in front of potential customers, it can also benefit your local community.
2 – Chamber of Commerce
Often hosting regular meetings, joining a chamber of commerce not only gets you in front of local people, but it may connect you to great collaborative opportunities where you can bounce off someone else’s audience. Remember, keep community and connection as your first priority in networking spaces such as this. Allow marketing to be a natural byproduct, offering your work to the community when and where it will be most beneficial.
3 – Charities & Social Causes
While it seems counterintuitive, instead of waiting until you have more money before you give back, try swapping your social media ad budget for a couple of social causes you desire to support and donate to. Charities often have insider communities and invite their donors to galas, conferences and ribbon cuttings where you can connect with other like-hearted humans with values similar to yours. Again, keep community and connection as your first priority. Allow marketing to be a natural byproduct, sharing about your work when and where it will be most beneficial.
A few examples of causes you may desire to get involved with:
- A local wilderness conservation
- Your library
- 1% for the planet
- Local art collectives
- The Creative Coalition
4 – Coworking Spaces
A hub for creative entrepreneurs, coworking spaces are a wonderful way to get connected with your local business community. While they are a great way to get out and get work done, they also often host events and social gatherings where you can develop relationships, establish collaborative partnerships, and market your business when and where it feel appropriate. Additionally, coworking spaces sometimes host workshops where you can teach on your topic of choice, or attend and meet people interested in topics related to your business.
5 – Slack Groups / Facebook Groups / Mighty Network Groups
While theses are technically social media platforms, they are also online spaces where you can engage in social networking, meeting folks in a more collaborative way vs. traditional media consumption. As someone navigating health difficulties, I find these to be an accessible way to connect, even amidst more difficult fatigue days. The key is: offer up helpful comments, connect people who might be able to help one another, and post meaningful insights. Do NOT spam and only pop in when you have something to gain. Treat these groups just as you would a healthy and reciprocal in person relationship.
A few examples of groups you can get involved in:
- Hobbyist Groups
- Program Alumni Groups if you’ve gone through a course or certification program
- More specific for creatives you could join: Mount Freelance or Climate Designers
- The key here: don’t only join groups that have people in your industry, join groups in adjunct spaces. For example, if you are a coach, don’t just join coaching communities, if you are an artist, don’t just join artist communities. Utalize your knowledge of your target audience to join groups that hold values and interests similar to your target audience.
And that is what I want to leave you with today. Remember, the freedom here is CHOICE. You get to choose where you market your business. What feels good? What does not? What is ACCESSIBLE for you? What is not? There are SO many spaces where you can market your work, meet your people and meet people who want to share you with their people, it’s just a matter of expanding past what you’ve been told to step into possibility.
Also, don’t forget I would love to hear from you! Let me know how today’s episode lands with you by shooting me a text at: (312) 815-2774
All right, I’ll see you next week!
Freedom is yours,
“Due to social media being “free” in order to grow their empire these companies have made YOU their product, selling your attention and clicks to their advertising clients.”
“This message is typically preached from folks who are selling something to help you improve your social media game.”
“The fact is, you don’t need social media if you don’t want it, and if you do want to use social media, that’s ok too! It’s truly your choice.”
“Keep community and connection as your first priority. Allow marketing to be a natural byproduct, sharing about your work when and where it will be most beneficial.”