A tweet here, retweet there, add an Instagram reel for good measure, release a TikTok video and don’t forget the YouTube shorts. If this is what your regular social media activity looks like, no wonder you’re finding the pace relentless. But why so frantic? The truth is that your brand doesn’t need so much activity.
First came above-the-line advertising in print and broadcast channels. You appointed an ad agency, agreed on a strategy, paid for the year and let them get on with it.
Maybe you also had a PR agency that worked below the line, issuing so many press releases every year and staging the occasional trade fair and customer event. Awesome!
Then the Earth shook, and social media burst onto the scene, disrupting everything the whole world thought would remain the status quo.
As you began talking directly to the whole world via Facebook and YouTube, your reliance on traditional advertising faded. And as the number of social media channels grew, you could hardly believe your luck.
All you can eat
It was like choosing all your favourite food at the buffet: Some of this, a little of that, how about one of those, ooh, I love these, I’ll have two, thanks a lot. And it was a lot. But that wasn’t even the best thing about it.
The best thing was that it was free, mahala, gratis, baksheesh. Why wouldn’t you pile your plate high and return for seconds, thirds or however much you wanted?
You didn’t stop to think that you couldn’t find the caviar you’d put on your plate first because it was buried under all the other goodies. You just added more: Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, YouTube, Vero… I’m sure I’ve left some out, but maybe you didn’t in your mad race for millions of followers.
So now you have millions of followers, but how many actually buy your products or services? How many of them pay attention to your relentless posts? Remember that they follow hundreds of other relentless posters, too.
Blah, blah, blah
More to the point, how meaningful is the stuff you’re putting on social media? Do you really have that much to say, or are you scrabbling about for new content all the time and ending up posting blah, blah?
So ask yourself this: When last did you see something significant on social media that made you take action? I’ll wait.
Imagine if you had fewer followers and addressed them every few days with something that really mattered to them, something they cared about. Say you had only 20,000 followers. That may be a drop in the ocean, but if they all want to be there, they are your whole ocean.
“Your tribe is anywhere and everywhere and crosses all boundaries, from age and geography to pronouns and race.”
I was talking to world-renowned marketing expert and bestselling author Seth Godin about this, and I loved his thinking. He calls this the minimum viable audience, which makes so much sense to me. If you focus on your minimum viable audience, you expend your marketing energy on a mindset rather than an arbitrary number.
There’s a trick to it, though. You have to forget about trying to change the minds of the people who want a different product or service from the one you’re providing. Let them go and get what they want; you focus on those who want what you’re offering.
This is your tribe. This is who you should be focusing on. They are enough for you. Believe me.
The network effect
Do you think Starbucks set out to own the world? No. They wanted to make a particular type of coffee for people who loved that type of coffee. Godin says that they focused on what they did best, and their happy customers spread the word to others.
It is more valuable to have a smaller tribe that cares about you and becomes your evangelist community than to have millions of arbitrary followers. I’m told that half the US population doesn’t even like Starbucks, yet they still have an enormous tribe.
Another valuable point Godin makes is that you don’t need to build a whole new tribe. Your tribe probably already exists and if you focus on what you do well, they will tell each other about you, and they will all come to you.
Focus on mindset
He talks in terms of tribe because digital marketing has made demographics redundant. I couldn’t agree more. Your tribe is anywhere and everywhere and crosses all boundaries, from age and geography to pronouns and race.
Once you focus on your tribe, your marketing job on social media becomes the practice of keeping in touch with them in a non-needy way. Organising them distinguishes you and helps those who care about your vision to have a place where they can belong. This is where the magic happens.
It’s time to stop. Stop chasing millions of followers and use your marketing time and budget more intelligently. Stop thinking you have to be all things to all people. And stop shouting from the top down – instead, have meaningful horizontal conversations with those who care about what you say.
This article was published in INC Africa