„Scaling“ is a magic word in marketing. The principle is simple: You find something that works for you and gives you a little success and then you go and try to multiply this small success into a bigger success – you „scale“ it – hopefully.
If you can scale your success, you are done – go, celebrate!
But the truth is that you can scale some social media metrics and others you simply cannot scale over a certain limit. And some things might be too time consuming or expensive to scale.
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This is the reason why selling a digital product is such a huge business opportunity for so many entrepreneurs. Because with digital products you can scale your sales without the need to also scale the time or the material or money investment you need to put into producing a large number of the product on your end.
If you try to scale things like your working hours you are going to lead a very unhappy, totally overworked and stressed out life without any free time to actually live it. And you will still be limited by the amount of your time that you can sell. There is no way you can sell more than 24 hours per day…
Scaling in marketing or in social media is more like this: do something and see if it brings success and then do more of it with the goal to get more success.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? And it is, at least from a marketing point of view.
Scaling in marketing usually also includes some use of tools and automation to handle the large (=scaled) number of tasks you need to perform. Because otherwise, you cannot handle the scaled workload.
The Downside of Scaling
Scaling also has its downsides when we marketers try to scale some annoying things or turn the user experience of something nice into crap just because we want to see more results and success and get the scaling wrong.
For instance, one post of interesting content may be nice and bring you traffic or even customers. If the attempt to scaling this success simply results in posting the same content over and over again, that content will soon turn from interesting into something your audience rather wants to go away. That kind of scaling won’t work – at least not as well as marketing could work.
Instead, in this example, a good form of scaling would be to post different pieces of interesting content which can still be seen as the scaling of one successful post. And this kind of scaling does often work.
Other examples of scaling gone bad are links for SEO. When people discovered that links are so valuable for search traffic everybody was trying to get more links. And marketers simply tried to scale link building by building shady links, and spamming forums, creating websites for the single purpose of linking to other websites. And Google had to find a way to cope with this inflationary growth in worthless links.
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So, what is it you cannot scale in social media?
Sad but true, the one thing you cannot scale in social media marketing is engagement. Because engagement takes a minimum of time investment on your end for each interaction on social media. And as mentioned before, no matter how hard you try, your day won’t stretch to more than 24 hours.
Mark Schaefer recently called it that you cannot scale the „social“ in social media – and he is so right. I am actually glad to read other people with a huge social media following face the same problem.
Yes, I know that some people somehow are better at engaging than others.
But others (like me) fail at this…
Are you trying to be active on social media and engage with your audience? How does that work for you?
Chris Strub recently made a test. He tweeted the same question to a list of 100 marketing influencers. And „only“ 40 out of 100 responded. I am actually surprised how many answered.
— Chris Strub (@ChrisStrub) April 6, 2018
And they did not only answer, but some of them also took the effort to personally create a video to answer him.
Either that is a sign that these 40 somehow found a secret formula to make more out of the 24 hours of one day – or it is a sign that not so many serious questions come in on Twitter and they simply have someone or a tool to filter out the meaningless chit chat and found a way to focus on the handful of serious comments.
Engagement is important!
When we started out with social media marketing, we engaged a lot on social media: We made friends on Twitter. We found customers, signups, guest blogging opportunities and a lot more through communicating with other Twitter users. We monitored conversations on related topics and joined in. We asked questions and got super interesting answers that again resulted in us writing articles about it.
We aimed to be approachable on Twitter – our main marketing channel. But we could not keep up.
I have a confession to make…
I stopped doing much engagement on Twitter a while ago. It must have been somewhere around the time when my Twitter account reached the first 100 thousand followers. Because I simply got overwhelmed. Monitoring all my Twitter notifications started to eat too much of my time.
I know it is not optimal and a lot of social media marketing advice is about engaging with your audience on social media. And I give that advice, too! And I know that it’s solid advice!
But we here at The Social Ms are still just 2 people, me and Jonathan. We write blog posts, we create books and courses for you and we work with clients. And the whole blogging thing is supposed to give us some free time to spend with family, friends, and dogs. I simply have not found a way to add an additional couple of hours to my days.
I apologize for every comment I missed, every tweet I did not answer. I feel bad about it. But it is as it is… sometimes I simply have to switch off social media and just be me and live in the real world.
What you can do
You should try to engage with your audience as much as possible. Maybe you can set yourself a limit of how much time you are going to spend on engagement – otherwise, there will be a point when you are so much sucked into social media that you won’t actually have a life outside of social media. And that cannot be the goal.
Some people try to conquer this problem by hiring a person to engage with their audience in their name. They scale their hours in a day by adding more manpower to the equation. In the end, they are scaling their hours by paying people to act in their name and do the engagement for them or to alert them to the handful of tweets, comments or posts that do require their personal attention.
I do not like that. If an answer claims to be from me I want it to be from me. But that leaves me with the unsolved problem: You cannot scale the social in social media (Thanks Mark Schaefer for addressing the problem first).
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“The Social Ms blog and books have shown us great possibilities of growing on Twitter and via online media. In addition, they actually respond to email reactions. Practicing what they preach gives them the credibility edge.” Guy Pardon, Atomikos