Social Media (SM) has revolutionised the way we live on a daily basis and how we consume and produce content. SM is a revolution, such was the industrial revolution and the mass media revolution, now we have this. It has changed the playing field in terms of our personal life, and for business and marketing. With all the benefits that SM brings to our lives, I was to talk about the business side, from the perspective of a creative individual marketing and making a living from their work on the internet and from SM. For small businesses, say a wedding singer or a photographer who use SM as a tool to help them grow, this could be their only option if they don’t have the budget for traditional advertising on radio, TV, or in print. So need to use SM as a way of advertising what they are currently doing.
Bigger businesses such as medium-sized magazine, or independent media & news company who over rely on SM give precedent to ads or clickables vying for your attention, trying to funnel you into a sales tunnel where they are paid ad revenue for the amount of people who visit your website. Have you noticed these kinds of articles before? The ones where their aim is to try lure you into clicking their link or article on Facebook when all they could have done is posted what happened. This is what is happening, they don’t get paid for visits to their Facebook page or likes on their articles, they can’t put ads on their SM pages, but they can on their own platform. This is something that is happening a lot more frequently with such a competitive marketplace in many industries. And something which was recognised a 3/4 years ago when Facebook changed its algorithm for promoting and showing consumers certain content, thus began charging businesses and pages for ad space and ‘promoted’ content on their audiences feeds.
There is a lot to be said for a brand or business that is constantly trying to sell you things, and one that is giving you valuable content for free.
If you have a body of work that you want to show, a brand a name you want to build for yourself and an audience for what you do, you need currency. Attention is the currency of SM, and trust is the currently of Attention. Without trust, can’t ‘buy’ attention. It’s a cyclical process. To gain attention fast, do something scandalous but this would build you trust, and you will be forgotten, but along with being forgotten, you could build a renown for that particular act and be branded with it for future iterations even when you are trying to do something different. The power of SM means that information spreads quickly. You can gain attention quickly, but you can’t gain trust quickly. The key is time. You build trust by giving away valuable content for free, and keeping your word even when it wasn’t convenient.
To gain attention you need to build trust. And to build trust you need attention.
This is the principle of the ‘Rule of Reciprocity’, giving someone something valuable that they feel obligated to repay you. It’s a long-term mindset in a short-term world. This is how you become authority. Being trust-worthy while creating a business or body of work with integrity and good values. It takes a long time, and the power of SM means that you’re constantly up against other forms of content that people consume. 2 seconds and it’s gone, scroll to the next thing. Can you remember at least 3 articles in your feed yesterday? Probably not. SM allows you to view and consume so much content in such a short amount of time that it makes out the long-term thinking to be a bad thing. You have to give valuable content first, for free. Then ask for something later.
Give first, take later.
SM gives us the tools to reach audiences that we have never met before, who will may probably never meet, we each have our own circles and communities, be it different sizes, on SM who we talk to and interact with, whether it’s a photographer or film-maker etc. that you like because their work inspires you and you trust them. Think about how they got there. At one stage they made a commitment to showing up and becoming great at what they do. But it’s not because they are great at what they do is the reason why you like them, it’s because they are a trustworthy person who is worthy of your time and attention, and showed up to a certain audience at a certain time. That’s why you trust them, and that’s why you enjoy their work.
The people you will hear about in 5 or 10 years aren’t sitting around doing nothing. They are the ones working hard and showing up right now.
The problem with social media in advertising products or services is a lot of bigger companies who have established trust with their track record ie. having good products, a large consumer base, and commanding a lot of attention, is that they appear to be in the latter half of the rule of reciprocity. Meaning, they are taking (selling). This is why you see these types of ads and clickables on SM (and traditional media). The problem with taking before you establish trust is that you need to know that person or source is trustable and you do this with a proven track record, which is how you get attention. This is where you as a photographer / designer / jewellery maker on Etsy, come into ply.
Your job is to build a body of work that earns you trust and attention.
Be specific about what you want to build and how people will view you. Are you the ‘lettering guy’, or the ‘podcast guy’, or the ‘level design guy’. You have to easily identify yourself for people to be able to consume you. SM allows you to shape what you want to share and when with people. As the creator, you are the product to your audience, your selling yourself.
The problem with SM is this respect is that everybody is the product, not just you as the producer marketing yourself and your work to your audience, but also the consumers of any content. If it’s happening on SM, then you are a product too, no matter which side you are on; producer or consumer. You don’t owe SM anything, regardless if you’re using it for free or otherwise. Think about the size of these companies, the SM giants. How do you think these businesses are some of the most profitable in the world yet they are free to the end-user, you and I?
Social media is optimised to create anxiety in its users, to keep them coming back to check for new updates or something new that has happened, not for allowing you to run a successful business from it. Which you can of course have a successful, popular page and provide valuable content from. But, keep you from coming back from what? Important work. For the most part, SM is a form of entertainment in the guise of escapism. It distracts you from the important work you should be doing now. It wasn’t create to provide an extra avenue to reach new customers, it certainly helps with that, but in no way was it created or focussed on with that in mind.
This is the power of having your own platform on the internet and building your own website. SM can change the how it operates at any time. This is the importance of having your own space, which I talk about in detail in post 16.
Seth Godin’s view on SM is – “If you find that at the end of the day, [you] did a really good job … that [your] social media is clean and taken care of and that’s all you have to point to, I don’t think that’s a good day”.
The important thing you should realise about SM is that it offers you a platform to reach new users and create an audience, but you are the product. For all it’s good at, in these aspects. You must realise that your attention is being sold by these SM companies to brands and businesses (in the form of data they collect by your clicking habits and your information you provided) that want to sell you something, and they pay top shelf to have access to this information. This is how SM companies make their money, outside of subscription plans etc.
Your job is to focus on your own work, your audience and customers, not rely on SM to be the sole driving force of your business. If you have to rely on SM to get money, you don’t have a business plan.
Create a great body of work, use social media to help you engage with an audience that likes you, your brand, or your work and focus on being a trustworthy person with integrity an values, a person whom others like and use the tool that SM offers to do that.