When you’re starting your online presence from scratch you might be a little overwhelmed on where to start. Do you make a website first or do you create a social media presence? Or you might be wondering if you need to be on social media at all?
It’s a common topic that comes up in my client projects. They wonder if they should even worry about social and if so, when should they tackle them. There are two avenues you can take and ultimately it’s up to you. There’s no wrong answer, just keep in mind the primary goal of social media: driving users to your website.
Before you begin your website (or while you’re in the process of creating one) you can get started on your social media.
Social media tends to be a lot easier for people to drive on their own compared to a website, so it’s a quick way to get things going, especially when you’re excited about your new business.
By starting with social media, you can start getting your name out there, build your audience, and even generate buzz around your upcoming website launch.
Just be careful not to get too wrapped up in your social media to the point where you think you don’t need a website. Because, actually, you need a website more than social media.
On the other hand, you can also wait to tackle social media after you’ve launched your website. That way you have a place to send users once you become active (your own “link in bio” not Linktree), and it gives the appearance you have an intentionally thought-out digital presence.
If blogging is part of your website strategy, you can create a backlog of content to share. For example maybe you soft launch your site, start blogging, and then three months down the road you decide to get on social. You now have three months’ worth of posts you can slowly trickle out. This not only gives the appearance of longevity, but it helps keep the momentum going of posting so content doesn’t become stagnant.
Social media may seem like this all-or-nothing thing, but it’s really not. You don’t have to be “everywhere” and to be honest, you really shouldn’t. Before you decide which platforms you’d like to be on it’s important to consider these things:
What is your goal in using social media? To drive sales? To capture leads? To create connection? This is your call to action.
Your reason for being on social media should not be because you think you have to be there. If you guilt yourself into getting on social or even a platform because it’s trendy, your heart won’t be in it. Your audience will notice, and it defeats the whole purpose.
Who is your business aimed at? And don’t say “everyone” because it’s not everyone.
“When you try and speak to EVERYBODY, you speak to NOBODY.”
You can’t be everything to everyone. You’re not Amazon. 😉 It’s crucial to understand who you want to target and niche down. And when you figure out who you want to be targeting you need to know what platforms they’re active on in order to reach them.
I did an exercise where I noted the social media platforms I’m the most active on and identified the audience on each once. After this, I looked at my analytics to see which platforms were actually driving traffic to my website and compared that to my goals for social media.
Turns out I was spending way too much time on platforms where my audience had no intention of paying for my services. For example, on Facebook, I was caught in a sea of “pats on the back” because the only people engaging with my posts were friends and family. I had maybe one or two people occasionally sharing my stuff. Of course, I am so grateful for the support, but it wasn’t moving the needle in my business. I had to change my focus from chasing “the high of likes” to reaching the people I want to work with.
In my case, my target audience hangs out on platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Linkedin, so that’s where I’ve shifted my focus.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when it comes to all the platforms out there and their ever-changing algorithms. The thing is, you don’t need to be on all the platforms. Put yourself on the platforms you can commit to being active on, creating content for, and engaging with your audience (don’t post and ghost 👻).
Think of LinkedIn as your virtual resume. This is where you get to shine with all of your experience! It’s the perfect place to establish yourself as a thought leader.
I don’t think people truly realize just how valuable LinkedIn can be. The algorithm works in your favor because whenever someone interacts with your post that interaction will show up to their followers and so forth. It’s a beautiful domino effect of networking.
Content has a much better shelf life here thanks to their algorithm. It’s the perfect place to pin your blog posts, your work, and even your products. It covers a wide variety of content so just about any industry can benefit from a Pinterest presence. I especially love sending my clients here for homework to gather design inspiration.
When I was at a conference in 2020, not a single person asked for a business card. Instead, they asked for my Instagram handle. Whether you like it or not, Instagram is where it’s at but for good reason. A lot of reach can be made here especially when you niche down. It’s the perfect place to get the conversation going.
However, Instagram is not a substitute for a good website. If you have to continue your caption “in the comments” you need a blog. 😉 Your call to action should be, “Continued on blog. Link in bio.”
Unpopular opinion: I believe Facebook is on its way out, and I wouldn’t focus on this platform to help grow your business. That being said, I do think there is value in making sure your business has an up-to-date page and drives users to your website. Why? Because when people are in their local Facebook groups asking for business recommendations you want to make sure whoever refers you can link directly to your Facebook page.
You can easily make sure your Facebook page stays updated by using various automation tools to crosspost content. For example, when you post on Instagram you can toggle a button that will automatically post on Facebook. This works for your feed and stories.
If you have a WordPress site with a blog you can use Jetpack to automatically post a link to your blog post on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Tumblr.
It’s important to remember that social media is a tool that should be used to drive traffic to your website, not the other way around.
Social media shouldn’t be the place you’re selling, it should be the introduction and how you are connecting with people. The biggest goal of social media should be to create connection and provide invitations for people to leave the app and connect with you in a space that you own.– Jenna Kutcher
Whether you start or end with social media, a website should always be the end goal.
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The Lovely Geek is a one-woman studio based in Sacramento, CA working with small businesses throughout the United States.