In late October 2016, Twitter announced that it would be shutting down Vine, which is a social media platform focused on short-form, looping videos.
When I brought this up to my clients, they all gave shrugs and said, “So what? It doesn’t affect me because I don’t use Vine.”
They’re wrong about that. Dead wrong. And so is anyone else who uses social media to market their businesses. It affects all of us.
It brings up the question of what would you do if one day your main social media platform of choice shut down? Do you even have a plan for that? Because you should.
The truth is, you don’t “own” your social media followers. The platforms do – the likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on. You could wake up one morning and the following you’ve worked so hard to grow, nurture, and build a community around could be completely wiped out.
If that sounds farfetched, you should know that Twitter is essentially up for sale, but has been struggling to find an acquirer. They also just laid off 9% of their workforce. So yes, it really and truly could happen. To any platform.
I really don’t want you to lose your shirt in the event of that happening, so I’m sharing my 7-step plan for you to grow your community in a different and powerful way. (Side note: it’s the middle step in my process for helping my clients turn their social media followers into loyal, paying clients)
1. Sign Up for an Email Marketing Platform
Yes, in case it’s not completely clear, I’m telling you that you need to start collecting the names and emails of your followers so you can create a database of people who have given their express permission to receive communication from you.
So, first things first, you need an email marketing program/platform/solution of some sort. There are many, many solutions out there. Personally, I use MailChimp. (Full disclosure: that’s an affiliate link; we both get MailChimp credits if you sign up for a paid account with that link)
Other options include Aweber, Constant Contact, iContact, Emma, Mad Mimi, and Infusionsoft – just to name a few.
When looking for an email marketing platform, decide in advance what you want and need from it. This article from Entrepreneur lists 10 questions to consider when shopping for an email marketing service. Also worth considering is the cost (time, financial) to learning a brand new system and/or the outsourcing of managing it to a Virtual Assistant.
Pro-tip: I’ve come across VAs who have claimed they are experts in email marketing systems – especially ones that have unpaid versions available – but in reality, are only familiar with the free aspects of the system, because they haven’t invested in themselves to learn the entire thing. When interviewing potential VAs for my team, I’ve asked questions such as “At what point would you recommend I upgrade my MailChimp account to a paid one?” Those who couldn’t answer the question didn’t get hired. 😉 Make sure you do as much research and due diligence in choosing your VA as you do when making any other business decision.
2. Create an Enticing, Free Offer
You may or may not be familiar with the term “lead magnet.” I’ve also heard it called an opt-in gift, an irresistible free offer, and an awesome free gift.
Whatever you want to call it, it’s generally an information product that you’re offering to people who fit your client avatar in exchange for their name and email address.
One of the most common formats are PDFs featuring an odd number of tips related to your main message. Other options are audio recordings, videos, infographics, check lists, templates… the sky is the limit. The key here is that it’s a topic your client avatar is keenly interested in, delivered in a format they’re most likely to consume.
If you’re stuck for an idea for your lead magnet, think about the times people have asked to “pick your brain” or go for coffee with you – what is it that they really wanted to know? Start jotting those down and choose an odd number of the best ones. That’s the start of your lead magnet!
3. Create Content for a Nurture Sequence
Once people have given you their email in exchange for your lead magnet, it’s not enough to just send the gift and ride off into the sunset until you’re ready to email them a sales pitch.
That is, in fact, the worst thing you can possibly do. A cardinal email marketing sin.
Expand on the content within your lead magnet to create 12-14 additional emails that can be sent out to your new subscribers over the course of the next 6-7 weeks after signing up. These emails should be really simple in their content, and provide the subscriber with a ton of value.
These emails will then become “autoresponders” inside your email marketing platform. I highly recommend getting a Virtual Assistant who is skilled and experienced in setting them up.
4. Create Content for Social Media
Since the goal is to convert your social media followers into subscribers to your email marketing platform, you need to actually promote your lead magnet on social media.
To do that, you’ll need to write social media posts – and because you just completed Step 3 (I know you’re not the type to skip steps! LOL), you can essentially repurpose your nurture sequence content into social content by adding calls-to-action, or CTAs, that link to an opt-in form. Which brings me to Step 5…
5. Make it Super Easy for People to Subscribe
People will always follow the path of least resistance, so if it requires a series of steps that include clicking and scrolling all over the place, your social media followers aren’t going to hand over their email address to you.
Having a page on your website dedicated to hosting an opt-in form is ideal, so you can link directly to that page without making folks go hunting for it. Many email marketing services will host simple sign-up pages for you, but keep in mind it will be heavily branded in their favour, not yours.
6. Promote, Promote, Promote
Now that you have your lead magnet, your autoresponders set up, and some pre-written social media content, it’s time to get the word out to your followers!
Mind the 80/20 Rule here. This means that posts promoting your lead magnet should account for no more than 20% of all your posts. Out of every 5 posts you publish, only 1 should be promotional in nature – and that means all the things you might be promoting at any given time.
7. Email Them Regularly
This goes beyond the autoresponders in your nurture sequence that your awesome VA set up for you.
What I’m talking about here is sending them a regular newsletter (but for the love of all that is good in the world, please don’t refer to it as a newsletter anywhere in your marketing, ever!) filled to the brim with value. Bonus points if it’s exclusive content they won’t find anywhere else on your social media channels.
Ideally, you’ll email them once a week. At the very least, email them every other week. Any less than that, and every step you’ve taken up to this point has been wasted effort and you may as well quit now.
Using social media to supplement and support your new email marketing endeavour will be a game changer for you, I promise. I am in no way advocating that you abandon your social media followers entirely in favour of emailing them – I’m simply showing you a way that you can provide even more value to your followers while protecting your business in the event something horrifying happens to your favourite social media platforms.