A few days ago we talked to a new contact about his projects, marketing ideas and how we may be able to work together in the future. And he said, one of the reasons he likes our work is that we did it ourselves: We have faced the same marketing challenges other entrepreneurs face. We have had to learn marketing from scratch. We know how it feels when you have thoroughly planned a marketing strategy following best practice advice, and it just does not work out as planned – and we know how to find the flaws in the strategy and optimize until it pays off.
It is not the first time that we have been told that one of the reasons someone decided to either hire us or book the Social Media Traffic Generation Masterclass is partly due to our honest story. The story that includes a lot of failures when building our own business in the past (exploreB2B is no longer active), failures before we figured out how content marketing and social media can best be utilized for ourselves.
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And they are absolutely right.
There is a huge difference between learning social media marketing from books – or even in university – and doing it: Including all the wrong turns you can take, the failures you need to learn how to get it right and the successes, starting small and growing.
Theory is deceiving in social media marketing
In theory everything in social media marketing, most of the time, sounds like solid advice, which you can apply to your case straight forward. But social media marketing is rarely this simple and straightforward.
If you never were in the situation when you followed the advice and rules and it simply was not working as promised, how can you be the best person to find the solution? How can you know what to do, if you never saw how time was running out, your boss or your financier was pressuring you for numbers you simply could not provide, and you desperately needed a new and better idea? If you never tried something that did not work and you had to figure out what was going wrong and what you needed to change for this one unique situation to make it work. If you do not have this kind of experience, then you do not know social media marketing.
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Many people know the theory, best practice and “rules” – but not how to get it right
I have had people in a Facebook Group about social media marketing judging a Fanpage as “not good” because the page was only sharing their own content. I asked why that would be so bad, and they answered because on Facebook you never should be all promotional and to do so, you also need to share other peoples’ content. My answer was that I think that is a fundamentally wrong approach. It might be good for a page to share other peoples’ content – and it might just as well be a bad idea.
- There is no need for other peoples’ content to be helpful and useful instead of promotional.
- And there are tons of blogs, which have a Fanpage and people simply follow this Fanpage as one form of subscribing to this blog – they expect content from their site.
There is no “rule” for what to post on a Facebook Fanpage, it just depends on what the page wants to achieve, what the audience is looking for (and reacting to) and results.
I have also been told by so-called Twitter experts with a few hundred followers, that I should not be sending automated direct messages or people would not follow me (or stop following me). They should know they are marketing students. No joke! (I recently hit 180k followers, and automated direct messages have been one of the best working marketing channels for me).
Learning (and abiding) non-existing rules can be dangerous
The only rules in Social Media marketing which you have to follow are the guidelines and limits the networks themselves give you. Everything else is kind of up to you and your results. There are best practices; there are case studies and statistics; there are examples of what worked and what did not. But what you need to be aware of is that these are not really about your individual and unique situation. I can tell you to tweet often and that our blog traffic is to a large part coming from Twitter. That will not help you when you have 150 followers. Then you need to figure out how to grow followers first.
One problem is that loads of people learn the “rules” of Social Media marketing from books, university or case studies. But there are no real “rules” in social media marketing. Social Media Marketing is not math where there is only right or wrong, and everything is defined, proven and fixed. The only real “rule” in Social Media marketing is: Do what works best for you, and that can be entirely different for different people and situations.
A second problem I see is that with all the advertising options in Social Media a lot of people only learn how to pay for some social media marketing success (and yes more money can buy more success). And with these paid results they dilute their outcome in a way that they do not know what works well. Measuring success and finding the weak points gets harder when part of the result is paid. And the real (and much bigger) success would come if you figure out what works without paying first and then use your budget to get even more out of it. Nothing is wrong with pushing success if you have the money to do so. But paid ads in the social media soup make the analysis of results even harder. People who never worked without an advertising budget in social media marketing often have not learned to break it all down, measure everything and optimize until they understand the processes and the wrong turns they can take.
What you need to learn about social media marketing is how to make assumptions, test, measure and learn to figure out what actually could work for you. It is dangerous (and limiting) to stick too close to theory when practices and settings in social media marketing are ever evolving and changing.
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