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You may have heard me talk about the importance of building your own platform, but social media is also a great way to engage with people.
Your audience is already using social media, so meeting them where they’re at can work to indirectly bring them back to your site.
It seems like you’d want to engage on a bunch of platforms and share your work in as many places as possible, but today we tackle an interesting question:
Is there such a thing as being too many places?
At what point is someone’s first experience with your brand potentially a negative one because you’re on a platform where you’re not really engaged?
I don’t think the answer is as simple as a number. There’s a fine balance to strike between maximizing what’s working right now and being an early mover on the next big thing. We talk about that in this episode.
Highlights, Takeaways, & Quick Wins:
- If you’re on a platform where you’re not actually engaging with people, it can have a negative affect on your brand.
- Not everyone is going to see every interaction you have online.
- Not every social media platform is going to be around forever—at some point, you’ll have to jump to something newer.
- Don’t sweat social media so much that you do it at the expense of your own content.
- If you tell the people that are really engaged where to go, they’ll follow you there.
- Focus the right content on the right platforms for the right people.
- Think about how you can adapt your message to each platform’s strength and to the expectations of your audience on that particular platform.
- Engage with people where they are.
- Our focus should be to create a long-term relationship with the brand.
- If you have 10,000 likes but you only engage with 800 people, then you really only have 800 true followers—don’t get emotionally attached to an arbitrarily inflated number.
- It’s not about the number, it’s about the people.
- You need to have a strategy of curation.
- You can delete your old social media content, but it’s better to focus your efforts on creating new content that’s curated.
- Engagement doesn’t have to mean comments—commenters are less than 1% of your whole reach.
- 04:28 Sean: Social platforms include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Dribbble, Behance—places where you can interact with people, comment, post your work, like or favorite things, etc. These platforms are places where you’re putting your creations out there in an attempt to grow your business or your personal brand and use it for content marketing. The question is: can you be on too many of those social platforms? It’s easy to come up with a number to say what’s reasonable or what’s too many, but a number isn’t the best way to answer this. I want to go deeper and talk about why it might be too much or why you can afford to be on a few more platforms.
Creating the Best First Experience With Your Brand
- 05:31 Terrance asked this question in the chat room earlier, “I had a conversation with Kyle the other day about managing too many tools vs. being strong in fewer tools. It stemmed from my asking if anyone uses Behance and whether it would be a good thing to get into for the extra audience, in addition to managing Dribbble, Twitter, IG, your own site or blog, newsletter, etc. He made the point that spreading yourself too thin would sacrifice quality, but is there kind of a sweet spot there? How should I balance taking on another growth tool vs. having too much on my plate?”
- 06:35 I don’t have a specific number of how many platforms I’m going to be on, but my rule of thumb is that I want to be places where I can engage with people. If I’m spraying my work onto all these platforms in automated ways, and I’m not there to engage with people when they ask questions or comment, that’s the point where it’s spread too thin.
If you’re on a platform where you’re not actually engaging with people, it can have a negative affect on your brand.
- 07:22 Let’s say you have 100 followers across the board, but not all of those followers are on every single platform you’re utilizing. Maybe you’ve got a handful of people following you on each platform, but most people are following you on one or a few. They might use the platforms for different things and they’ll only follow you on Twitter and Instagram, but they use Pinterest for something else so they don’t follow you there. You have to realize not everyone is going to see every interaction you have online. Think of each social platform as a shop. Every single one of those shops are the potential first experience for someone with your brand. Like with physical shops, if you’re not there, you staffed unfriendly people, or it was a solely automated system, it wouldn’t be a great experience. Imagine an Apple store where there weren’t Apple employees, you couldn’t buy things, and you couldn’t ask questions. It would have a negative impact on the Apple brand.
- 09:17 Ben: If you really liked the Apple brand, you definitely wouldn’t go back to that store. You’ve got to ask, “How useful is that store?” Continuing with the brick-and-mortar example, it costs money. There’s overhead when you have a physical location, so business owners try to do a good job of making it a good experience for their customers because they need to justify the cost of having it open. Think about how many Starbucks locations there are! With every location that goes up, you can bet they’re talking about how profitable that location will be, if the timing is right, and will they be able to justify paying to have a store there. It doesn’t cost you money to be on a social media site but indirectly, it could potentially cost your brand if that’s the experience someone is having with you for the first time.
- 10:27 Sean: The worst case isn’t that you don’t get any more business or followers. Having a half-hearted presence can have a negative impact. If someone is trying to engage with you there and you’re not answering, that’s an experience they remember.
- 10:56 Ben: There’s even a time cost in having and maintaining an automated version of yourself on a social media platform. You’ve got to ask yourself, “Even if people find me on other platforms because they like my brand, is it worth my time and effort to keep a certain platform running when it’s not accomplishing it’s purpose?”
Trying New Social Media Platforms
- 11:32 Sean: There’s a weird balance because on one hand, we’re saying we want to make sure we’re engaging on the platforms we are on and not going beyond that, then you have someone like Gary Vaynerchuck, who’s a big proponent of being an early adopter of new platforms. He says you can try out 20 new platforms and they all flop, but one of them makes it big. If you’re an early adopter, you can ride that wave and eventually you’ll be in a position of influence. Maybe it’s a matter of allocating your resources to trying out these platforms but how much do you allocate?
- 12:34 Ben: I agree with a lot of what Gary Vee has to say, but I struggle with this one a little bit. I’m not sure how to categorize it in terms of how you invest your time or effort as a business. Some businesses will go for quantity over quality because that quantity adds up. I see where Gary Vee is going with that. The way these social media platforms work is, in the beginning, they remove as many barriers to participation as possible—ads, membership levels, etc.—that more mature social media sites have so they can get users. That’s a great time to get in because you can potentially get a ton of exposure that way.
- 14:14 Sean: Let’s say you came to the conclusion that you could really only be on five platforms and still be able to engage well with people. Maybe it’s a matter of forcing yourself to only be on four and allow the fifth to be a new network. That way, you have the balance of making sure you’re engaging with people but still allowing yourself to try things out. We have to realize not every social media platform is going to be around forever. People thought MySpace was forever and some people think Facebook is forever, but the reality is they’ll die off and it’s a matter of how long.
- 15:24 There’s going to be something new that’s either a reincarnation or a totally new service that’s more adapted to whatever the current needs are. We have to face the reality of that. You can’t say, “These are the platforms I’m on and I’m going to ride them forever,” because you’ll be left behind. At some point, you’ll have to jump to something newer. It might not be as big but you have to balance out what you think is going to be the next thing.
- 16:02 Ben: I don’t know a lot about the social media platform landscape right now. I know there’s new ones out there and as many as are popping up, there could be 10 new things you could try out but you only have that fifth spot reserved for trying out a new one. When is it to early to jump on a platform and when is it too late?
- 17:09 Sean: It’s an investment and it’s hard, unless your full-time job is trying out social platforms. It’s difficult, especially if you have a small business or a personal brand. Your resources are limited and in a lot of cases you don’t know. Something that’s doing really well right now is Instagram, where engagement far outweighs virtually all other main players in the social network arena. Facebook is getting noisier with ads, sponsored posts, hidden content, etc. Twitter is getting increasingly noisy and they’re trying to patch it with new features that aren’t solving the problem, because it’s a matter of how people are using it.
- 18:17 Along with Instagram, video is a very big deal right now and the main players are taking it very seriously. Twitter is starting to integrate native video, there’s Vine, Instagram video, and Facebook is seriously playing up video. Not that long ago—about a year—they started downplaying YouTube. You used to be able to put a link to a YouTube video on Facebook and a player would embed itself right there but they don’t do that anymore. YouTube is adding on a subscription model, in addition to monetizing with ads. People will be able to pay a subscription to not see ads on videos. If you’re monetizing you’re videos, then people that pay a subscription won’t see those ads and the partners on YouTube get a cut based on viewing time.
- 20:14 The point is video is very big—things like Meerkat and Periscope just popped up. If you’re having a hard time deciding which new network to use, look at who is betting big on video.
- 20:44 Ben: It evolves and changes a lot but video is definitely huge right now. It doesn’t seem like it could evolve past that point, because there’s nothing more immersive than video.
- 21:24 Sean: Cory Miller made a statement I really liked, “If I go onto any kind of platform for a business, whether it is their own website or something like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and their last engagement was over several weeks ago, I immediately categorize them as a business that doesn’t care and I go to find something else.”
- 22:11 Ben: Ultimately, your own platform is where people are going to have the very best experience with you. They’ll experience the most quality there because they’re not surrounded by all this other noise. The way you engage with people is important but at the same time:
Don’t sweat social media so much that you do it at the expense of your own content.
- 22:47 Sean: We’ve got a question coming up that asks about the kind of content to put on different platforms and eluding to that, I curate lettering on Instagram. Because I’m not focused on that right now, sometimes it does go dormant for a bit.
- 23:10 Ben: In the chat room, Alice Watkins asks, “How do you find new platforms that are appropriate to your content?” It’s good to consider which platform offers the strongest medium for the type of content you have, but if you’re set on using a specific platform, there are ways to position your content to fit in that platform. I’ve seen Terrance, one of our Community members, posting his lettering for a long time on Instagram, but as Instagram has made the move to video, it’s making it an even better user experience.
- 24:16 Sean: Now the videos are looping automatically and previously, you couldn’t hear the sound if your vibrate switch was on but now you can tap on the video and sound plays. They’re making it a lot better.
- 24:41 Ben: Within the past few months, Terrance has been putting up videos of some of the brush lettering he’s done. He could just take a picture of the lettering and it would be interesting, but he’s taken advantage of this new ability within Instagram. Don’t worry too much about which platform is most appropriate for your content, ask first: which social media network will be most effective and give me the best reach?There could be a perfect medium for your content and no one is there.
- 25:48 Sean: Karolina asks, “What if you decide to quit one of the platforms you’re using? What’s the right way to do it when you have some followers there that might notice? Do you want to make a slow shift so they know that you’re going somewhere else?” You could do that but it depends on how important it is to you. If you have an engaged following that you care so much about, then maybe you shouldn’t be leaving. You could put up a notice if you leave. If it was really that great of an engaged following, stay there and engage with them. Otherwise, let them know you’ve left.
If you tell the people that are really engaged where to go, they’ll follow you there.
- 26:41 Ben: There’s this weird phenomenon that I’ve experienced, where I’ll go for a long time without posting something and I’ll get new followers during that gap, then I post something and a handful of people unfollow me. Connected to Karolina’s question is, do you even want to make the announcement at all? If you’re not going to post stuff there anymore, does making the announcement highlight something you don’t need to highlight for people because they’ll find out on their own?
- 27:30 Sean: You could put up a final post telling people you’re not going to be there anymore and where to find you. Don’t make a big deal about it but at least be helpful.
Curating for Certain Social Platforms
- 27:45 Tommy asks, “I’ve been having trouble deciding on how to curate my content on different social platforms. Some are suited for my peers (Dribbble, Behance) and others are more suited for my general (non-designer/potential client) audience. Should I isolate my content to only certain social networks, or share everything that is appropriate to all of them?”
Focus the right content on the right platforms for the right people.
- 28:21 That’s the power of marketing automation. If you want to be effective in email marketing, send the right message to the right people at the right time. That’s how you’re going to be the most engaging to that person. You want them to feel like you’re talking to them and that message is for them. Dribbble was where I was trying to put up work to attract clients, back when I was doing client work, and I was also building an audience for my lettering in order to sell physical products. The designs that sold to my followers were quotes or sayings and clients were looking more for logo designs with case studies. For the most part, I was curating what I put on Dribbble to be appealing to potential clients. I didn’t put as much of the general stuff that appealed to a larger audience, and for that I used Instagram.
- 29:56 I try as much as possible to be selective and curate what I’m posting on certain platforms and even on certain accounts. On YouTube, I had an account called seawes Lettering because I wasn’t thinking about how I was limiting myself for future growth. You can’t change the username on your accounts so when I started seanwes tv, I would either have to post it to the seanwes Lettering account or make a whole new account and I decided to make a whole new account. I had a few thousand subscribers on the original YouTube account but I made a new one because I wasn’t limiting my thinking to the few thousand subscribers I already had, I was thinking about the future people who would come along that I’m trying to teach business stuff to.
- 31:03 Ben: I like the idea of, not just curating what you share in general, but playing the platform to it’s strengths. For you, at the time, lettering was pretty niche but even within that niche, you had curated your quotes and your client work. It makes sense not to share everything you do on a single platform, even if it is curating in and of itself. On Dribbble, your strongest play was getting potential clients.
- 32:24 Sean: Your tendency will be to blast the message you want to say on all the platforms, but:
Think about how you can adapt your message to each platform’s strength and to the expectations of your audience on that particular platform.
- 32:48 Maybe you post a status on twitter but you turn it into lettering on Instagram or a video on YouTube.
- 32:58 Ben: The rules change a lot and you have to take that into account when you’re asking yourself how many platforms you should be involved in. If you really want to do them well and play them to their strengths, you’ve got to understand how they work at the time, which can change on a month-to-month or week-to-week basis.
- 33:22 Sean: I don’t like Facebook but we get more video views on Facebook right now than we do on YouTube for a lot of things. If I were to post a YouTube link on Facebook it won’t imbed. Even if it could imbed, Facebook has convinced themselves that they’re a video platform now so YouTube is a competitor and they won’t show those posts. I stopped using Facebook personally last year. I post stuff to my page and I engage with people there, but every now and then it’ll make me switch back to my original account. The newsfeed when I have to do that is purely videos—no statuses, no photos, no links. They know it’s super engaging and they’re going to prioritize their own videos, not YouTube videos.
- 35:02 Ben: If you want to grow your YouTube subscribers and Facebook is such a poor platform, why wouldn’t you try to drive as much as you could over to YouTube?
- 35:24 Sean: I can only reach 5% to 10% of my Facebook page followers with regular posts without paying, but if I post a YouTube link, I might get 1%. The question is, do I want to engage 10 to 15 times more people or try to get 1% of my overall fans to check out YouTube? Of that 1%, maybe 10% actually subscribe. I would say to engage with people where they are. We post promo videos for these podcasts natively on Facebook and we say, “Go to seanwes.com to listen to the full video.” We’re letting people know where things are happening—the place to be is my website—but we’re posting natively to engage with them first.
- 36:28 Ben: A lot of peoples’ goal when they post to social media is to automatically send people somewhere else and they do so at the expense of the user’s experience with their content. Sometimes they do so at the expense of giving the user the full version of the content. That’s different than giving them a clip of the show but even when you provide a clip of the show, it’s a bite-sized version of our entire conversation and in and of itself it’s very valuable. I like that you’re uploading it through Facebook so more people see it and it’s less about directing people somewhere and more about trying to give people an experience with your brand. It takes away the potential for short-term views or visits to your site, but it increases the long-term relationship with the brand.
Our focus should be to create a long-term relationship with the brand.
- 37:43 When we’re posting on another social media platform, the question shouldn’t be, “How can we get them to view our site or how can we get them to action as soon as possible?” The focus should be on, “How can we give them a meaningful and memorable experience with our brand that will cause them to want to continue engaging with us?”
seanwes Marketing Behind the Scenes
- 38:05 Sean: I think it would be interesting to have an episode on everything that goes into creating and marketing a seanwes podcast episode. We create so many various versions of this show—the title, full show notes, takeaways, and the excerpt. The excerpt is critical and the most important thing. You’ve already prepared for and recorded the show, written full show notes, and made a featured image, so by time you get to the excerpt you might want to just get it over with. The excerpt is the first thing people see and it determines if they listen, scroll, or check out the content at all. You want to think of the excerpt as talking to a friend that might not listen to the podcast. Treat it as if they would get a ton of value out of this episode and you’re sitting across from them, telling them why they should listen to it.
- 40:07 In addition to the topic, title, excerpt, and shownotes, I also make a tagline. This tagline is used on the newsletter and as the email preview. When you look at your inbox, you’ll see a subject line and a preview of the message, which comes from the first text your email client can parse. You want to put a line at the top of your newsletter, which in HTML can be made the same color as the background, so the email client will grab that tagline instead of something else. I’ve started doing highlights and takeaways and Cory has been making notes throughout this episode on interesting points to use for promo videos later. We’re breaking down all of these resources that can be used across social media platforms. Twitter has 140 characters so you could put the featured image, the title, the tagline, a link, or a YouTube video to a promo. You have all the resources at hand and you expand it according to what the platform will engage with.
- 42:38 Ben: Does it make sense to hire someone to either help create or maintain content on a specific platform? Could one eventually have a whole team of people and cover every social media platform there is?
- 43:02 Sean: I suppose you could but you dilute the effectiveness. You probably don’t want to be on every single one but you should be on the big players that you think are good investments. As to the team question, I couldn’t be doing as much as I am now without the help of other people we have on the team. I don’t think you should have someone manage your social media and reply to people as you. It’s one thing if it’s a business brand vs. a personal name. You can have people reply as the business or sign it with their initials. It would be terrible if someone was replying on social media as Gary Vaynerchuck. He makes a point to personally engage with everyone and that’s what I would do.
You should engage with people on social media yourself, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have help putting the content out there.
- 44:19 Cory helps me. When we’re done recording, he edits the promo, I give him the featured image I made, he renders an outro and uploads it to YouTube. He adds the annotations, the title, the excerpt, the links, etc. and that frees up time for me, when I’m able, to go in and engage with the commenters there.
- 44:53 Ben: In the context of a personal brand, anytime you’re talking about one-on-one engagement with people, it has to be you. When you’re talking about the content people are consuming, it can be you in cooperation with a team. I know it was difficult in the beginning for you because you felt like your voice was going into the way you edit the podcast, shownotes, and creating the featured image. It can be a difficult thing to surrender but the impact you can have engaging with people is greater by surrendering it.
- 46:18 Sean: I did struggle with that and this comes back to: do the hard work yourself. Get your hands dirty and do the work in the beginning because you’re setting the standard for it when you bring people on. I used to edit the podcast so now Aaron knows how much care I put into it and how much detail there needs to be. Cory knows I care about annotations a lot and he knows the attention to detail I want put into it.
Don’t Focus On Numbers
- 48:01 Brent says, “I hardly get any interaction on my Facebook page. I’ll get new likes, but the actual reach of what I post is significantly lower than the total number of likes. I don’t even personally like using Facebook, but do for the sake of my business page. Do I stop posting there altogether, or continue to reach the very small percentage of people that are on there regularly?” It’s all about the people that are engaging. The inflated number is giving you an inflated sense of reach.
If you have 10,000 likes but you only engage with 800 people, then you really only have 800 true followers.
- 48:54 The rest is a number that means nothing. If you have tens of thousands of email subscribers, but only a few thousand are opening and clicking, then you only have a few thousand people. Don’t get emotionally attached to an arbitrarily inflated number. The number doesn’t mean anything! Don’t look at 10,000 and 800 and think, “Well, 800 isn’t worth it,” because the 10,000 isn’t real in the first place. You don’t really have that, you have 800. Now, do you care about the 800 or not?
- 49:21 Ben: There’s a related question from Sam Newt and he says it’s a controversial question, “At what point do you stop obsessing over followers?” That’s step zero because 10,000 is not a real number.
- 50:10 Sean: This was the topic of my talk at Creative South—4 Keys to Growing an Audience When You Feel Like You’re Not Getting Any Recognition. The people that are there in the beginning are not just 100 subscribers or 1,000 followers, they’re your ambassadors. They’re the ones spreading the word and they’re the ones that are going to get you the next people. It’s not about the number, it’s about the people.
- 50:40 Ben: Someone might be thinking, “That 10,000 looks pretty nice for someone who’s considering whether or not to follow me,” but you know what looks even nicer? One of your friends you trust saying, “Hey, you should go check this person out!” The only way that’s going to happen is if you’re focused on the people who are engaging, not on a big number.
Curating What You Share to Grow an Audience
- 51:04 Sean: Mat says, “Well, I guess you would need to start with, ‘What’s my strategy for driving new business?’ If it’s your Twitter and you’re just tweeting your stream of thoughts, then thats a poor investment.” He’s speaking to whether or not you should go to a new platform and what your strategy is. We’re talking about business and wanting to attract people to your brand to eventually sell things too, not just a place to dump your personal stream of consciousness. What’s the business plan there? Why are you using this platform? If you’re going to be on Twitter, it needs to be purposeful. There’s short-game and long-game, not everything needs to be to sell. If you’re going to put a token of value in so you can eventually sell, at least be going somewhere. If you’re trying to attract business and you’re on Twitter, you don’t want to just be tweeting your thoughts or that you got coffee this morning.
- 52:51 Ben: Every time I turn on Periscope, I curse Sean, because I can’t just turn it on and do something, especially since he’s done such a good version of it. It’s not so much about the quality for me as it is about having a purpose and a plan in doing it. I want to be able to set expectations and because my time is limited, I don’t have time to be strategic about that specific platform. As cool as it seems, I don’t want to do it because I can’t do it purposefully. If I had the time and resources to do it well, I would first make a strategy and ask myself, “What am I going to do with this?”
- 53:49 Sean: As long as you’re thinking about that, that’s the main thing. People get upset when I say to curate what you share. “We’re real people Sean! We’re not all robots like you. Some of us are actual human beings who have feelings and want to share pictures of cats, kids, and coffee.” That’s fine! I’m coming at this from a standpoint of growing an audience, which a lot of those things you want to do aren’t purposefully enhancing. I’m also not saying you can’t be a real human with people, I’m saying you need to have a strategy of curation. If you’re going to show a personal side that doesn’t relate to your business, find a way to relate it. Say, “You know how I was talking on the podcast the other day about taking breaks and spending time with family?” and tie it in. Share the experience of taking your kids to the zoo. You’re leading by example and demonstrating what you’ve been saying. Then, turn the camera back around and give a takeaway.
- Deleting Old Content
- 55:41 Brookes asks, “Should I delete all of my old, old, OLD photos on Instagram from way back before I started curating?”
You can delete your old social media content, but it’s better to focus your efforts on creating new content that’s curated.
- 56:03 Make the goal to be to overwhelm all of the old stuff. Overwhelm it to the point where it doesn’t even matter. If have embarrassing and dumb stuff, go delete it, but you don’t have to delete everything. People are often interested in the progression, assuming you’ve overwhelmed your feed with curated content. If they go back that far, they’re engaged and they’re going to like seeing that journey.
- 56:51 Ben: With people I follow on Instagram, for as far down as I care to go in their feed, I’m only seeing the curated stuff. I know somewhere in the past, if they didn’t delete them, there might be some personal stuff, and maybe that’s creeper but it’s fun to find. What was their life like before they just started sharing this stuff? I’m already invested and following, so that stuff from the past just allows me to go a little bit deeper into who they are.
- Engagement Doesn’t Have to Mean Comments
- 58:52 Jean asks, “What if you’re only getting a few likes but no engagement?” A like is an engagement, but it’s also too awkward to find that person, go to their page, and say, “I saw you liked my post, thank you!” I think she’s talking about engagement in the sense of you being able to have a back-and-forth with them.
- 59:29 Sean: It’s the 10/10/10 effect—most people consume, some people are curators who will post what others create, then there’s the creators. 10% of everyone are the curators and then 10% of those are the actual creators. Engagement is similar in that a lot of people will browse Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube but don’t have accounts. On Reddit you can compare the views, which are huge, to the upvotes. There’s a few thousand upvotes but hundreds, thousands, or millions of views. You have the people that actually upvote, like, or favorite, and a smaller subset of them are people that comment. It’s not something to worry about because accounts that have hundreds of thousands of followers still only get 100 comments. Comments are the smallest number.
- 1:00:41 It’s easy to ignore something and it takes a little bit of effort to slow down, look at it, and then move on. It takes a little more effort to like it or share it, and it takes the greatest amount of effort to stop, think, and post a comment. I wouldn’t worry at all because commenters are less than 1% of your whole reach.
- 1:02:41 Ben: I agree it takes time, your following has to grow, and only a percentage of that following is going to engage, but I also have a friend who doesn’t have very many followers that gets a lot of engagement on Facebook. It’s because the content he posts encourages engagement. He asks a lot of questions and it spurs conversation. I see him consistently engage with every single person that starts talking after he posts this kind of content. Over time, people can look back in his feed to see how consistently he does this and they’ve come to expect it. If you create the social proof that this is a place where we can have a discussion, people are going to comment and they know you’ll engage with them. That’s how you can grow your engagement, disproportionate to the number of followers you have.