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Content production, blogging, and social media always find a way out of the priority list. The day-to-day reality of business almost always revolves around one goal: making a sale. Each action is measured by the end goal of “Is it generating revenue?” »
Return on investment from content marketing and social media is not immediate. Worse still, it usually comes with depressing results. Yet the reality of the digital age demands that building an audience is the most reliable method of building a modern business.
Social media isn’t magic – it’s just people and communication. What needs to happen for you to get a sale? You need to be able to communicate and you need someone who will buy. Social media happens to be where hundreds of millions of people hang out on a daily basis.
It’s our job as business owners to figure out how to reach them and communicate with them the way they want to be communicated, so that we have a chance to increase the bottom line.
So what happened after my business committed to posting daily for 30 days on 10+ platforms?
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Where we started and why we committed to publishing
We posted daily on all major platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, YouTube and TikTok. We also answered daily questions on platforms like Quora and Reddit, wrote weekly articles on Medium, and posted on niche platforms like Behance, Dribbble, and niche sites.
That meant posting to a minimum of 10, sometimes even 20 platforms, in a day. On top of that, because I’m a small business owner, it meant the burden of creating and publishing content was on me.
Like many business owners, I neglected to build a social media presence. We started most platforms from scratch. Facebook? Less than 100. YouTube? No. Instagram and Linkedin? Neglected for more than three months.
Conventional logic involves focusing on one or two platforms and building from there. The problem is, there’s no way of knowing where we might be building momentum, and we’re already creating the content, so might as well give us the best chance possible to “go viral.”
Imagine this scenario: a blackjack dealer says your total buy-in is $100 (the content creation cost), and for every hand you play (posts), it costs $1 (additional time cost), but it will pay you as if each hand were a $100 bet. What would you do? Play only two hands or play twenty?
Your chances of winning and getting better results increase dramatically with the number of hands you play. Publishing on different platforms offers this advantage.
Related: What I Learned from Posting on Linkedin Every Day for a Year
How we approached content production and what types of content we created.
Most businesses think they should always be sales-oriented, so they produce self-promotional or service messages about what they do. The problem is, everyone does that. From the start, we knew it wouldn’t work. Instead, we’ve decided to go against the grain: don’t make any sales or service posts, and have no intention of selling anything to anyone.
Instead, the focus has been on creating value, building an audience, and letting sales take care of themselves. No funnel, no calls to action, just value. The theory? If people are interested, they will do it themselves.
Rather than focusing on what we do, we focused on related content topics that people struggle with or information and website examples that provided significant value. This meant that our content focused on things we don’t sell, like content, social media strategy, stories, conversations and thoughts on entrepreneurship and creativity. The idea was that we would publish the content we would like to consume as a top priority.
In the beginning, most of the content was writing-based because that’s what I’m most used to creating. However, as we got into the process, video and visuals came to dominate. This came in the form of daily live streams and mobile-focused vertical videos. For visuals, we turned blogs into visual “slides” and “carousels”.
Related: Less Sales, More Storytelling: 5 Expert Tips for Doing Low-Cost PR for Your New Business
Why we ended up focusing on video and visuals.
What we found was that vertical videos (ex. Reels and YouTube Shorts) got by far the most views and impressions, while live streaming got the most engagement. Our YouTube channel had a handful of videos posted over a year ago and no subscribers. Still, we got 25 hours of video views based on 15-60 second vertical videos.
A standard Instagram post would get around 100-200 views, but a reel would often get over 1,000. Normal videos would get a handful of comments, while a 10-30 minute live stream (especially with a guest) would consistently get 10 to 100 times the engagement. On a Facebook Live, we had over 190 comments with a total following at the time of around 120 and a small handful of viewers. Not bad for “Camera on, go live and talk”.
Splitting a blog post or article into single sentence slides or images (LinkedIn slide and Instagram carousels) has increased the number of people who actually read the content as it is easier to digest, with the side effect that more people read longer written articles.
It might make you think: just do reels, live streams and charts because they are “ideal”. The thing is, what’s “optimal” is constantly changing, and people are consuming content in different ways. So we continued to post as many varieties of content as possible across video, live video, vertical video, articles, single images, and carousels.
It comes down to the basic nature of people and what they prefer. Not everyone consumes content in the same way. Some like to read, others watch or see something visual, and another group likes to listen. Rather than responding to an algorithm or having an opinion on how people should consume content, we focused on delivering content in different ways so that there was something for everyone and many ways for a person to digest what he likes.
Challenges and unexpected results
Time was the biggest challenge. We just weren’t used to producing content and the first week felt like all we did was create content. It’s exhausting when you’re someone who creates and publishes content while interacting with the community on a daily basis. There is still a business to run after all.
It’s hard to imagine achieving what we’ve done without at least one or two people to help us run the day-to-day business. Not a single piece of content has gone “viral”. We also didn’t get life-changing subscriber growth. The execution was consistent and countless mistakes were made.
But we have created positive momentum to continue building a solid base. It is important to realize that this is a regular process and instant growth will not happen overnight. Small wins matter, and even something silly like 20 more followers on a platform is essential to get started. All of this was expected.
So what was completely unexpected? We’ve made five new deals, and five more are in the works, all from people we had no idea we existed the month before. All of these offers came from different platforms and all felt compelled to reach out to each other without us ever dropping a single call to action or “channeling” them anywhere.
By week three, we noticed a strange pattern. Our business partners, customers, and people we know have all started posting a lot more. One client followed what we were doing, took action, and ended up beating our bottom line pants – going from 2,000 followers to 11,000 on TikTok in a week!
It’s a result you won’t see anywhere on the balance sheet, but it’s just as significant and inspiring. It is a humbling privilege to witness the impact and influence of your leadership. Especially when you see other people getting positive results from a simple post you made without any monetary exchange.
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