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Throughout my more than 14 years as a CEO and business owner, I have strived to lead my company with intention. Oftentimes in my entrepreneurial journey, that has meant going against the grain of standard business practices. From offering my team four-day work weeks to cutting our time spent in redundant meetings by 50%, my decisions as a CEO usually don’t subscribe to the “shoulds” and “have to’s” of the business world.
So last year, when I realized social media was taking up much of my time, energy and budget, I took notice. It was as if social media had become a petulant 2-year-old screaming at me in the grocery store (and my kids are grown, so I have DONE my tantrum duty!) I felt mentally zapped. Worse yet, it was as if all of my creative juices (and marketing dollars) were flowing to a single leeching source…Instagram and Facebook, my primary captors on the warped planet of social media.
In those moments, when something I’m doing for my business is draining me, I like to pause and reflect. For six years, I had prioritized social media as a communication method with my audience because I believed I “had to” as a business owner. I falsely believed my social media presence was what made my business successful. Finally, an epiphany struck, Did I really have to? And also, was it social media that actually made my business successful?
Gathering the research
I’m a fan of the Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) as a helpful tool for leading my business with intention. It essentially means that 80% of your business’ outputs (including revenue) come from 20% of your activities, and you should prioritize your time, energy and team power on those vital few projects.
In reviewing my conversion numbers, the shocking consensus was that social media was achieving the exact opposite for my business: it was requiring maximum time, energy and money for minimal dollars. We discovered that our focus on vanity metrics such as follower counts and likes kept us from seeing the metrics that really count — conversions. These platforms were underperforming even with high follower engagement.
I also decided to reach out to my clients who, to me, represent my “ideal avatar” as a client. In other words, these are my “soul mate clients.” The type of client you would clone if you could. So when I learned that not one of these women had discovered me on social media but through my podcast and books, I felt something in me shift.
I had compiled all the evidence I needed. I shut down my social media accounts on January 1, 2022.
Shifting my communication input
In following Pareto’s principle, I realized I needed to shift my time, energy and team power to the communication channels I knew our ideal client was spending time on. When I really thought about it, the channel that was most authentic to my ideal client was email.
The move to more email interaction has given me the opportunity to connect with my followers in a more authentic way. Instead of replying to hundreds of comments or DMs on social media — volleying back and forth between platforms like a never-ending tennis match — my team and I get to spend that time writing out thoughtful, conversational messages to clients. Emphasizing email these past three months has added a more personal touch to my connections with clients, and as a result, our email open rate has increased 25%.
Additionally, I started hosting free live events I called Intentional Advantage Live for my clients and followers, who join me bimonthly via Crowdcast. The live events I hold are based on topics I’m already talking about on my podcast, but they’re more enhanced because my followers/listeners get to show up and ask questions, sparking real conversations they can get excited about.
What I also love about my live events is that my audience knows they are truly interacting with the real me in real-time, versus on social media, where you can never know for sure who is behind the keyboard. Just think: How many times have we watched a public figure blame their social media team for an ill-received post? The cat is out of the bag. No one is who they say they are in this digital universe anymore. And our customers are a lot savvier than we give them credit for.
Assessing months later
In closing, if I had to provide an assessment of my social media exit, I’d say I have had three revelations.
Metrics can be false gods. We tend to get caught up in vanity metrics. How many followers we have versus how many of those followers are actually buying our services and products. We focus on our email list size versus the open rate. We fixate on the number of website visitors versus the conversion rate we’re attaining. Rather than centering our decisions on these false gods, we need to be strategic and discover which metrics are worthy of our attention. Which metrics are actually moving the needle for our businesses?
Social media is a limiting belief for business owners. It is incredibly liberating to turn your back on something that the majority of businesses — and overarching society — partake in. One of the biggest limiting beliefs business owners face is believing they have to be on social media. But allow me to shift your perspective on this a bit. As entrepreneurs, we are creators, visionaries and innovators. We started our businesses because we wanted to lead, not to follow. I’ve enjoyed being able to explore marketing with fresh eyes. Going against the tide of marketing trends has allowed me to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
In the end, social media was a distraction from our true success. I’m no longer pulled into doing things to fit into an algorithm. Instead, I’m doing the things that fit into the lifestyle of my ideal customer. Running a business with intention means delving into the true meaning behind our actions. I have shifted from doing the things that look good to doing the things that actually do good. By emphasizing a communication channel where I can have in-depth conversations with my customers, versus snippets of conversation on many communication channels, I’m better able to help my clients transform and see new opportunities in their lives.
And by “lives” I mean their real ones. Not the digital versions.