Do we really need social media?
Asking for a friend.
Like many writers around the world, I’m fully addicted to Twitter – both from a business perspective and for personal use.
I log on several times a day, scroll the feed, comment on other people’s posts and send out a couple of Tweets myself. It’s my favourite platform and I’ve even landed contracts through people I have ‘met’ on Twitter.
So why am I asking if we really need social media?
Because unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’re probably aware that things aren’t going so well at Twitter (context: Musk takeover). And I’m now questioning why I use social media at all.
To delve a bit deeper into this topic I spoke to Joe Beech, a marketing consultant in Manchester, who was kind enough to tell me why he ditched social media and hasn’t looked back.
Here’s what he had to say.
When did you take a step back from social media?
I started to distance myself from social media about three years ago, as far as promoting my own business. I still manage various high profile social media accounts where the businesses rely on it for some of their most important outreach, so I’m certainly not blind to the benefits. When used well it is an important tool for getting your name out there and communicating what you do.
I still use LinkedIn a little bit, but I rarely post content and it’s more as a means to stay in touch with people through direct messages. As a relatively small marketing company it’s important for me to use the outreach tools that fit how I want to communicate with my clients, and social media has never really factored into that. I have rarely pursued getting new work through social campaigns and I prefer to take a more direct and personal approach.
Were you worried about the impact on your business?
Actually, it was a relief to have one less job of creating content and managing social media profiles. I know there is a lot of work that goes into maintaining an effective online presence and it’s difficult for any business with a busy work diary to find the time to put out worthwhile content. I personally weighed up the benefits of dedicating my time to social media against how that time could be otherwise spent, and I don’t feel like I’ve missed out.
What happened when you stopped using social media?
Honestly, it had no impact on my business. Every company is very different in how they reach out to clients and for many it’s simply a box ticking exercise to put out social media content that doesn’t really achieve anything. When social media is used well and there is thoughtful, valuable content that speaks to its audience, it is incredibly powerful. But what I love about the world of marketing is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all blueprint to bringing in business and you don’t have to use every available tool if it’s not your bag.
What is your approach today?
I’ve been very fortunate to establish some incredible business relationships that keep my work diary full. Some of this is through agencies that I’ve partnered with, but I’d say that the majority of work has been through personal referrals from people I’ve worked with in the past. Because my team is very small, my overheads are low and there are only so many hours in the day, I focus less on trying to accrue new work and more on nurturing my existing clients. Often, by spending more time on the work, this has led to the client broadening my scope in the future and creating long standing relationships rather than a series of transactional jobs.
How do you market your business?
Barely at all, which sounds ridiculous as I run a marketing company. Perhaps this will change in the future, but my work diary is very full, and I don’t have the capacity to take on any more work at this point in time. One of the agencies I work closely with described me as “marketing’s best kept secret”, which I like. It’s nice to remain exclusive and not feel obligated to offer your services to the public en masse. I am very selective about the work I take on to make sure that I am offering genuine value and it fits my skill set. And now that the business is four years deep it has built a natural momentum that looks set to continue.
What is your advice for anyone else planning to ditch social media?
I would say that while it can be very important for a lot of businesses, don’t feel obligated to use every marketing tool at your disposal if it’s not the right fit for you. If you are confident that you can pick up business or communicate with your customers elsewhere then it’s not a necessity. A lot of marketers will specialise in social media and tell you that you can’t survive without it. But when I start with a new client, I like to take a more holistic approach and use the right communications tools for their specific purposes. Modern marketing is not a one trick pony.
This isn’t taking away anything from businesses that bring in their work through social media. But the world of marketing is rich and diverse so there are plenty of other things you can be doing to get your name out there or speak to your audience. If you’re just starting out, then think about the way you want to present yourself to the world. If you’ve been established for a while, then look at how you’ve accrued business, and if social media doesn’t fit into that then there’s no shame in putting it in the bin.
Joe is the founder of Power Up Marketing Ltd in South Manchester. You can contact Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on LinkedIn.
You all know me as a copywriter, but I also like to dabble in creative writing.
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Around the web
🌐 In keeping with the theme of this month’s newsletter, The Atlantic asks if the age of social media is coming to an end.
🌐 And an article in Wired asks if those leaving Twitter will replace the platform or simply learn to live without it.
🌐 Moving away from social media, an extract from Haruki Murakami’s biography was recently published in The Guardian. If you’re a fan of his work, this is a lovely insight into what makes him tick.
One last thing …
“People just aren’t meant to talk to one another this much.”
- Ian Bogost
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