It’s March 2018. I step off the E train at Grand Central and with time to spare, I pop in a coffee shop before heading to the promotional/event staffing company that had booked a free 30-min consultation. They’ve been relatively successful, expanding to five cities across the world, including New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, London, and Paris since opening in 1999. Their business model is incredibly simple — send real models to staff events (who doesn’t want beautiful people at their party)?
I want to use social media to bring customers to my business…
As I step into the office, I’m greeted jovially by the CEO (Mike) and his even more excited COO (Mitch). I point out the usual social media mistakes they’re making — irrelevant hashtags, post frequency, story usage, bio wording. The basics. Without a pause, Mike jumps in, “Alright, that’s all great, but I want to use social media to bring customers to my business, I don’t care about followers.”
Seem familiar? This sentiment has been echoed in every consultation I have had. Freelancers and SMBs are tired of paying for services that bring followers with zero ROI. The immediate assumption is: Wow, that agency just took me for a ride, I bet all these followers are fake. What waste of money.
Could that be the case? Maybe. Is it? Honestly, probably not.
Fast forward. It’s July 2018. The event staffing Instagram went from 800 followers / 80 Avg. Likes to 15K followers / 1.2K Avg. Likes. I hear the gmail notification — an email from Mike.
Hey Andrew, haven’t gotten any business like you promised, really disappointing. I won’t be renewing. Please call.
Although losing revenue is never great, I’m relieved. No matter how much we tried to help, he just wouldn’t adapt to the ever-evolving digital landscape of the 21st century.
If you got them 15,000 followers and they even averaged over 1,000 likes, how come they didn’t get customers?
Great question. One I tried answering for Mike many times, only to fall on deaf ears. But over the course of consulting with businesses across the United States, I realized it’s an epidemic, not just Mike. If you’re a freelancer or SMB reading this, buckle up, it’s time for a reality check.
It’s the 21st century. Your website is now your store. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest — your storefront. Now imagine you’re walking down the street, you see a gym storefront that catches your eye, maybe it’s the sleek video billboard in front or the promotional staff. Regardless, because of what you see, you decide to step inside. You open the door and immediately you smell death, and before that point, you hadn’t even known death was a smell. The equipment is sparse and straight out of a 1980’s lifestyle fitness magazine. Of course, you don’t sign up for a membership.
Now, below is the actual event staffing’s Instagram as well as their website. If there’s a disconnect between your storefront and your actual store, consumers will not only be turned off immediately, but also develop distrust towards your brand/company.
To put it lightly, the event staffing’s website was antiquated. To put it in real terms, no one in this era would believe it’s a real, successful company, especially when compared to it’s bright, modern Instagram page.
Does your IG page match your website aesthetic? A strong, successful online presence is about congruence between all digital channels.
Back to the gym membership, let’s pretend you walk in, and it’s just like the storefront! Nice, new machines and racks everywhere. You love it. However, no one approaches you, and you end up having to seek out an employee (first strike). You find a manager but he’s half paying attention to you and half paying attention to another customer (strike two). You persevere — their gym is just too nice — and eventually get the membership form. It’s 20 pages (strike three). You laugh and leave.
Social media is FAST, QUICK, and MINIMAL. Users have become used to consuming your content through social media, but suddenly when trying to purchase your product/service, they come across speed bumps — slow loading times, lack of online booking, only call to contact — forcing them to slow down. Even novice Internet Marketers will tell you how important a seamless funnel is, and the significant impact it has on conversion. The longer it takes a user to go from your Instagram to purchasing, the more time a user has to change their mind or worst of all, get frustrated and give up. The event company had a single, general contact form on their website. No booking button. No availability listed. Any interest comes to a screeching halt.
If you’re hiring a social media management company and expect to never worry about your social media, don’t waste your money. You should have a constant pulse on the story, direction, and focus of your company. The content of your Instagram should reflect all three correctly.
Of course! But I just relay all of that information to the agency and they make content that matches, what’s wrong with that?
It’s not 100% wrong, but it’s far from the right approach. An agency can mimic your aesthetics and voice, but they can’t be YOU. In the midst of faceless managed business accounts, it only takes a few minutes of effort a day to post a story. In fact, we encourage all our clients to post ad hoc, on-the-go stories, even if they’re not business related.
Below is a screenshot of a current client (luxury spa) and their story highlights. The family highlights consistently receive more views. Either create a personality for your business or fade into the sea of business accounts forced to turn to paid boosts just for engagement.
4. Listen & Learn
Sticking with the gym theme — someone hires a personal trainer. He gives them a workout program, diet plan, and a list of beneficial lifestyle changes. They look at the advice, decide they only like the workout, and proceed to throw out the diet plan.
Unfortunately, the ego that forms from building a successful business becomes detrimental when it impedes progress. We have had countless clients make edits to and/or just blatantly ignore the social media strategy laid out for them.
I’ve been running my business for 20+ years. I know what I’m doing already, just post what I want and get me followers.
In the case of the event company, viral reposts of bartenders and drinks performed extremely well, often 150% over average engagement. Mike, however, was unhappy with the choice, simply because, “We sell staff, not drinks.”
What Mike failed to realize was, that the increase in engagement had a direct impact on Instagram’s discovery algorithm. This is highly beneficial because:
- Hitting the explore tab will increase the amount of profile views
- Consistent engagement will also increase visibility on more brand-specific posts
If you hire an expert, trust them. If you don’t, move on. If all you need is simple labor, get a VA or find an intern to post for you.
I sincerely believe if Mike had listened and simply turned their website into an Instagram feed, allowing consumers to click on a model and see availability, and subsequently book right away, he would’ve seen a massive jump in business. I also sincerely believe that if he doesn’t, digital natural selection will be the end of his business.
Okay. But my website is great, I have online booking, my staff posts everyday and I STILL don’t get customers!
Welp, that’s what experts are for 🙂