Building a Following & Building a Business Are 2 Very Different Things

by | Jan 7, 2022 | Entrepreneurship

Google “marketing and sales strategies,” and with remarkable frequency, you will stumble on trendy twentysomething YouTubers talking about traffic. Which is neither marketing nor sales.

“Start an Instagram meme account,” they say, “it will get an insane amount of traffic!”

Right. Because people scanning trending memes love buying widgets. How ridiculous.

If you can’t connect the dots between how an Instagram meme account stimulates sales from your eCommerce store, infoproducts, coaching programs, or otherwise, all you’re doing is building a following. And a following alone doesn’t lead to positive sales ROI.

This isn’t to suggest that a following can’t positively impact your business. But just because you have a following doesn’t mean you’re making sales, and just because you’re making sales doesn’t mean you have a following.

Practicing Accurate Thinking in Your Marketing & Sales Efforts

As a champion of artistic success, I see it as my duty to steer you clear of obvious flights of fancy, of which ephemeral social media tactics is an obvious speed bump. Here I will erect a massive yield sign.

Yield sign

I am an avid adventurer, after all, as evidenced by my wide-ranging experimentation.

Building a following on any platform takes time and effort, plain and simple, and before committing to any initiative requiring you to achieve viral status, it would be shrewd to consider whether that’s time well invested.

There are methodologies to attracting a following that work with remarkable speed, but to suggest that it will drive sales, fame, or any other desired end is bush league level of naivete.

How can we practice accurate thinking amid the hype? And the answer isn’t elusive as wide-eyed, overexcited microwave entrepreneurs seem to think.

As applied to Instagram, we should be asking:

  • How does our Instagram account prepare the prospect for purchasing from us?
  • Does the prospect click the link in our profile? How often?
  • What percentage of people coming to our site from Instagram convert to customers?

Even this is rudimentary, as you’d be wise to track how many people join your email list, how many of those people convert into customers, as well as the lifetime value of every customer that purchases from you.

If we can’t offer clear, concise, accurate answers to these questions, and have no intention of tracking, we’d be better off steering clear of Instagram altogether to dedicate our precious time to building assets and utilizing proven strategies.

Discarding the Ambiguous, Embracing the Specific

Show me an entrepreneur who tracks, and I will show you an entrepreneur who enjoys results.

Show me an entrepreneur who tracks, and I will show you an entrepreneur who enjoys results. Share on X

And tracking is not some magical superpower only the brilliant can access and leverage. It may require rolling up your sleeves and doing the hard work of monitoring your stats and logging them in spreadsheets, but unless you have an especially complex operation, a well-trained virtual assistant could easily handle the daily task load, usually in 30 minutes or less.

With free tools as good as Google Analytics, there aren’t any excuses.

If you deem your time precious, then ask these questions before starting any long-term project:

  • What am I looking to accomplish with this initiative?
  • Can I accept that building a following might not lead to profitable business results?
  • Am I willing to stick with the program for at least six to 12 months (because you’re unlikely to see results any sooner than that)?
  • Am I willing to do the hard work of daily, or at minimum, weekly tracking so I’m clear on how my work is leading to desired results?
  • Am I willing to abandon the initiative if it proves ineffective (remember – social media is addicting and brainless)?

And I will reiterate, as it is the intention of this article, that followings will not always lead to sales, sales will not always lead to followings. So, succumbing to the pressures of joining another social network is foolish when you don’t know what targets you’re trying to hit.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve been caught in the trap of the tantalizing and trendy, you would benefit from a reading of The Music Entrepreneur Code. While it was written with musicians in mind, it has also received praise from freelancers and entrepreneurs who merited the no-nonsense principles and next-step resources to retrieving true marketing value.

As noted, you can leverage followings for wanted business outcomes. But if you’re going to take advice from anyone, look for the soldiers with the arrows in their back, not the instant, bush to major league rookies. Those with arrows in their backs will have tried everything already and will be able to tell you what works and what doesn’t, and that’s a far less crowded and less painful road to success.

Those with arrows in their backs will have tried everything already and will be able to tell you what works and what doesn’t. Share on X