Did you know, as of June 2022, there were more than 130 social media platforms? From Facebook to Reddit to Athlinks and more, small business owners have plenty of options for targeting a broad (or niche) group of customers. But, it’s impossible to be active on every single platform. And, even if you try to post on better-known sites like Facebook or Instagram, you might not enjoy being on certain platforms for one reason or another.
Maybe you’ve wondered how to walk away from social media sites you don’t like, but you’re worried about missing business opportunities or connections with potential customers. Well, friend, Lindsay LaShell of Open Lines is here to tell you that you can reach your audience and serve them well without being on every platform—and, you can even say goodbye to the social media channels you don’t like!
Lindsay is a marketing activist, coach, and course instructor who works with underrepresented and underfunded creative entrepreneurs to empower them with opportunities to reach more customers. She loves helping her clients and students understand which social media platforms and other tactics will grow their businesses—and encourages them to ditch the rest.
When it comes to marketing activities (including social media), Lindsay likes to use the metaphor of Japanese gardens, which are intentional and thoughtful in their design. Most pathways in Japanese gardens are smooth and broad, but some parts are hilly and rough, with stepping stones to guide you. If you’re walking through a Japanese garden, you’re keeping your eyes on your feet so you can walk along the stepping stones without tripping. Then, at the end of the garden, you look up and see a breathtaking view.
So, what do Japanese gardens have to do with marketing and social media? “We can set up our marketing to be like those stepping stones,” Lindsay tells us. When our audiences come to a pathway in the garden (AKA a problem they want to solve), we have a chance to think about what they’re going through and what they need. The “stepping stones” in your marketing plan are the social media channels that will help your customers continue down the path and find something beautiful (AKA your products or services as a solution to their problem).
Now, it’s important to consider what social media platforms your customers already use and where they want (or don’t want) to find your offering. And, sharing the wrong information on the wrong platform won’t be a stepping stone for a buyer; it’ll just be a nuisance. For example, Lindsay recalls a time when she was annoyed by a jewelry ad she saw on LinkedIn. After all, she was on LinkedIn to connect with other professionals, not to browse jewelry! The jewelry company probably shouldn’t have spent time posting on LinkedIn. Instead, they should’ve walked away from LinkedIn and shared photos of their pieces on Instagram or Pinterest, where their ideal customers would be more likely to actively search for jewelry.
Lindsay suggests asking yourself a few questions to decide which social media platforms are worth your time (and which ones to walk away from):
If you answer “Yes” to all of the above, that social media platform is likely a good fit for you, your customers, and your business. But, if you answer “No” to any of these questions, Lindsay would encourage you to say goodbye to that particular channel.
When Lindsay transitioned from her old brand to the new Open Lines brand, she decided to move her social media efforts exclusively to LinkedIn. But, she didn’t want to neglect her Instagram audience and sacrifice opportunities to connect with customers there, even though she planned to phase out the platform. So, Lindsay gradually walked away from Instagram instead of quitting the channel cold turkey.
Lindsay first introduced her Open Lines brand on Instagram, then posted a graphic that read, “Find us on LinkedIn.” In other words, she met followers where they were if they found her on Instagram, but she also let them know they’d hear more from her (and learn more about her new brand) on LinkedIn. By letting people know she’d love to connect with them on a different social media platform, Lindsay prepared to phase out Instagram (a channel she doesn’t like) without her leaving followers hanging, or missing out on opportunities to connect with them.
So, how can you walk away from social media platforms you don’t like while keeping your audience in the loop? For whatever site you’re trying to phase out, Lindsay says, “Think of it as a billboard, not a content channel.” Let’s say you love Instagram but can’t stand being on Facebook anymore—and you aren’t seeing sufficient Facebook engagement. You could create a graphic for your cover photo that says, “We’re leaving Facebook, but you can find us on Instagram.” Treating your old social media platform like a “billboard” will let your followers know you’re about to phase out the channel they found you on, but they can still engage with you (and do business with you) elsewhere.
Now, because we talk about SEO so much on this podcast, I want to give you a caveat: No matter how you feel about your Google Business account, please keep your profile updated! SEO is critical for creative entrepreneurs who run small businesses, and maintaining your Google Business profile will help more customers find you (and your website) with Google Search and Google Maps. Keeping your profile updated also lets you make changes to your list of products or services, post important business updates, and more.
You might shudder every time you log onto Twitter, but you’re afraid to walk away from the platform altogether. Maybe you still feel like you need to tweet once a day because that’s what you’ve been doing since you started your business. But, you really don’t like this channel and want to put your efforts into marketing tactics that get results (and don’t make you want to cry). So, how can you overcome the fear of saying goodbye to certain social media platforms?
Well, Lindsay would start by gently telling you not to waste time on anything that isn’t growing your business. She recommends shifting your mindset from “I should do X” or “I need to do “Y” to “What has my return on investment been with this channel?” In other words, is Platform XYZ worth your time and money, and is it helping you convert prospects into happy, loyal customers? When you understand how much (or how little) a social media platform is contributing to your business growth, you can make an informed decision to keep using the platform or walk away.
For example, if you love Instagram, and the channel has allowed you to engage existing clients and reach out to new customers, it’s certainly worth staying active on your account. But, if you’re not getting much engagement on Twitter or attracting many new customers from the site, then Twitter may not have a great ROI for your business—all the more reason to say goodbye to the platform if you don’t like it!
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of channels, you can plan, create, post, and engage with social media content to move people toward action. Lindsay encourages us to start this process by setting aside several hours to plan and create a month’s worth of content around a general theme. For instance, if you’re a wedding photographer, you could spend a day shooting a series of Instagram reels for the month with detail shots, great poses for bridesmaid photos, and other behind-the-scenes content. These reels could revolve around a theme such as “Why Having a Detail-Oriented Wedding Photographer Is Perfect for a Detail-Oriented Bride.”
While this will be a busy day of content creation, you won’t have to worry about writing, designing, or shooting social media posts later in the month. By putting in the work up front (AKA creating content during the social media planning stage), you can simply copy, paste, and share on your designated posting days. Then, you’ll have more time to interact with prospects, comment on relevant posts, and build your network.
“It’s easy to not budget time for that engagement piece, but it’s essential,” Lindsay says. Even if you aren’t posting seven days a week, Lindsay recommends spending about 20 minutes each week following new connections and commenting on their posts. For example, you could try out Lindsay’s social media schedule of posting new content on Wednesdays and Fridays, then engaging with others by amplifying their posts (with positive comments, likes, shares, etc.) on Thursdays. Or, you might decide that a completely different schedule works for you! Whatever the case, friend, make sure you’re building community by interacting with others’ content—not just broadcasting your own.
Even if you walk away from social media platforms you don’t like and stick to the channels that work for your business, you might still feel burned out from time to time. If this sounds like you, Lindsay would encourage you to give yourself a break and (try to) stop chasing perfection. That’s not to say you should stop planning, posting, or engaging, but rather shift your focus to connecting with your audience.
Lindsay says, “If you are making yourself available in an authentic, meaningful way that prioritizes your audience and makes their lives better—it doesn’t have to be perfect!” In other words, consistently posting on your platform(s) and engaging with your customers matters more than a picture-perfect Facebook page or Instagram grid.
And, if you’re still on a social media site you hate, Lindsay reminds us that your best customers probably hate it, too! You won’t lose any clients—or, at least the ones you want to work with—if you walk away from channels that don’t serve your business. Plus, you’ll have more time to plan, post, and engage with social media that you do enjoy.
Friend, if you’re anything like me, Lindsay has given you the courage (and the permission!) to walk away from social media platforms you don’t like. You no longer have to worry about losing business opportunities when you strategically change your social planning, posting, and engagement tactics. In fact, you’ll have more time to focus on building authentic connections with your best customers and providing helpful information in the spaces where you (and they) are most comfortable.
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