I know I’m usually here to offer up some hot takes or quick tips to master social media for your small business, but today is a little different.
Recently I received a DM on Instagram from a podcast listener:“Would you ever do an episode on taking time away from social media? How to take time for yourself and tips and tricks when you are feeling the time sucks of social media?”
While I’m not quite prepared to tackle that yet (hello, boundary problems, my name is Molly), I do think it’s important to clarify that
your business doesn’t begin and end on social.
Yes, social media can help you:
- get more visibility
- sell online
- connect with a wider audience
- reach people outside your immediate location
- creatively spread your message
But social media cannot:
- replace you
- replace your family
- replace your reputation
- make you into something you are not (especially in a small town where everybody knows you)
Social media isn’t a magic wand. It’s a magnifying glass.
So magnify what you’re doing well and how you are making a difference in real life.
Growing your Business Goes Beyond the Internet
Here are a few ways I’ve grown Molly Knuth Media, a social media marketing agency, with traditional marketing methods:
- Saying yes to speaking events. I have spoken at our local high school on career day, as an opening speaker at social media summits, a breakout session leader at women’s empowerment conferences, networked at small business social gatherings, and lead workshops for other organizations. Some of these were paid gigs, but most were not. I did them because I wanted to spread my message to as many people as possible. And I knew that the people in these rooms needed what I had to share. Look for events in your area or industry where you have the opportunity to teach what you do. Be sure to give your audience action steps so they can see your expertise firsthand, and give them your contact info to follow up for more.
- Buying high-end business cards. When I started MKM, I knew I needed business cards. That was the staple of saying “I am open for business.” And I am not exaggerating when I say that I get complimented every time I hand out my business cards today. I sprung for a square shape and a smooth finish on a high-end paper. It cost a little more, but the impression they leave is priceless.
- Donating to local events and causes. I want to give back to the community that has given so much to me and my family, and I do that with my time and/or my money. I continue to volunteer in community groups that align with my goals and beliefs, and I often use my social media knowledge to aide their efforts. Similarly, I try to donate to school functions and youth groups that are sustained by the generosity of our citizens. The first time I saw my logo on a sponsorship banner, I nearly cried. It was an “I made it” moment because I finally had enough cash flow to donate it to causes bigger than myself. And people take notice of that.
- Apparel. I mean, do you live in a small town if you don’t have a tee shirt, sweatshirt, or hat, with a local business emblazoned on it? Or these days, and insulated tumbler? About two years into MKM, I had established enough of a fanbase to place an order for tees and hats, and I handed them out for free to loyal customers, family, and friends. This was great for generating conversation and getting my logo out and more visible in the community.
- Just being nice. I feel like I’ve learned more about being a kind person since being an entrepreneur. I don’t mean this in the way that “the customer is always right” or in a kiss-ass way. I just mean that I’ve learned to be more empathetic, more clear with my communications, more resolved in what’s right and what’s wrong, less gossipy, less quick to judge, and less apt to wear my emotions on my sleeve. I’ve learned how to strike up conversations with others I don’t know. I’ve learned how to be more inclusive. I’ve learned more about my own personality quirks, habits, and shortcomings, while paying more attention to the unique qualities in others and how that makes our world more whole. In all, I’ve just become more human by following this simple ideal from Dale Carnegie, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
As much of an advocate as I am for technology and the blessings it affords us in 2021, tech and social media aren’t the end-all, be-all for our lives and our businesses.
Businesses don’t only grow online
A well-rounded business and marketing plan doubles-down on real-life strategies and relationships.
When you’re building a business, it has to begin and end with the people you help. The end.
Whether you have a brick-and-mortar warehouse or a Shopify storefront, you have got to emphasize how you help people make their lives better. You can share this message on Instagram Stories or on the street corner. You can find your next client in the grocery store line or via Facebook Ads.
I love social media, but what I love more is the people behind the screens. So if you’re feeling a need to break away from the social scene for a little bit, that’s just fine! Your business will continue if you remember the people you are here to help.