The Reality of Social Media Marketing: Training Your Audience to Think with Depth #225

In this podcast episode, an experienced course creator shares their journey and wisdom of bridging the trust gap with a robust, prolific, and targeted content plan to authentically automate their marketing and by using content to train their audience.

You will learn:

  1. Is it possible to build an audience on social media without being on it?
  2. Why content should train your audience to think and get meaningful results.
  3. Why the content goal has to be the first step.

Listen to this episode on:

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Play | Amazon Music | How To Subscribe

Highlights in this episode:

[00:00:59] Advertising costs you time and money

[00:05:16] We live in a soundbite world.

[00:09:44] It isn’t enough just to create the content. You have to engage and push it along the way.

[00:11:13] Relevant stories requires knowing your audience well.

Social Media Goals: You Have to Engage

Today we’re going to answer the age-old (in internet years, that means, like seven months) question: do you have to be on social media? And if you are, how do you set your social media goals to make sure you’re getting the most out of your time?

We’re going to cover the following:

  1. The history of advertising for small businesses
  2. How + why your content needs to train your audience
  3. Your marketing goal and how that informs your content plan–and specifically why your content needs a goal

The History of Small Business Advertising

This is going to be a bit of a controversial claim, but the reality is–

Attention is either earned or paid. What does that mean? It means you’re going to put a lot of time or money in–that’s how marketing has always been and always will be. How that time and money get dispersed will shuffle and flow in different ways, but it’s always going to be a combination of those two things.

In most online businesses, social media is going to take a big space in both the time and money investment. Will there be exceptions? Yes. Are you one of them? Most likely–no.

old school advertising was a lot harder than today

When I started my first business, it was on the cusp of the online era. Many small businesses didn’t create websites at all and wouldn’t for several years. Facebook was only a thing for Boston-area colleges. I had to publish my business announcement in a newspaper and pay for a five-week print ad.

Did you hear that? I had to pay for an ad. It got me zero business, by the way. It was simply a requirement for creating a DBA.

I had to hustle. I paid for more attention in time than in money, because I was twenty years old, and frankly–I didn’t have money. My backup job was at Barnes & Noble to cover my car payment, food, and such.

More established small businesses advertised in magazines, at movie theaters, on local cable channels, and more. Other options were creating business collaborations and joining a weekly local networking group. Again–all a combination of time and money.

Online businesses take social media for granted

This is going to be another controversial statement, and I’ll stand behind it: social media is not a winner-take-all playing field. If you want to build an audience on social media, you, too, will have to pay in time or money. If not, you won’t hit whatever your marketing goals were when you set your social media objectives.

If you don’t want to be on social media (and still make marketing gains that come from social platforms), you have decisions to make:

  1. Will you hire a team member to be on social media for you?
  2. Will you pay an ad agency to build an audience on social media?

And I’ll take it a step further:

  1. Will your hired team member provide thoughtful, deep content as if they were you?
    1. Will they also engage with comments, posts, and audience members as if they are you?
    2. Or will you only hire to create content and do the engagement yourself?
    3. Or will you only hire to engage and create the content yourself?
  2. Will your ad agency provide the content, or just create the ads?
    1. Will you engage with the comments on the ads?
    2. Or will you hire for that as well?

Did I mention hiring a lot? I did.

And did I also leave out the option of you simply not being on social media? Yes, I did that as well.


Elevated Online Businesses Need to Train Their Audiences (And That Is One of the Goals of Social Media)

Established online business owners with cohort-based programs, whether those are proven courses or higher-tier memberships, quality coaching programs, or service-based deliveries–need clients who can think to get the results they promise. The goal of social media, for elevated online businesses, is to build an audience that flows into these programs.

content should train your audience to think with depth

You’re not fluffy. Your teachings have depth. You’re a creator who aims to serve. So… how can you expect your students to go through these meaningful training courses if you don’t train them to think with depth?

Short attention span marketing

We live in a soundbite world. I call it short attention span marketing

Tiktok, reels, YouTube shorts… they have a lovely promise that they’ll grab a new audience for you with your virality (and Julia McCoy shared an excellent year-long study on the difference between long-form content and the short-form content we usually see on social media channels).

But here’s a fun fact: I have a handful of videos that HAVE gone viral, and not a single one has netted a client for me. They’ve not even gained leads. If you look at their likes and comments, they’re not even business owners who could potentially desire my services.

Yet, we still live in a soundbite world!

But the goal of social media is to build an audience–how are you supposed to find the thinkers in an audience used to soundbites? You train them.

Content should train your audience to think with depth

I’m not suggesting delving into a dissertation on logical fallacies! 

And this doesn’t have to be academic-level training, either. It simply needs to grab their attention (attention, interest, trust is a framework for a reason!) and answer these questions:

  1. Is this worth my attention?
    You can yell fire in a crowded room, but you’ll lose interest quickly if there’s not a fire. And, you know, incite a riot and face some criminal penalties.
  2. Now, is this interesting to me?
    There are a lot of things that will grab my attention, but is it the right time and right place for me to keep my attention?
  3. Can I trust this person for my unique situation?
    As an elevated business, this is going to be the most critical. You can grab my attention, interest, and even general trust, but for a higher-end purchase, you’ve also got to nail the timing for an offer that’s so unique it feels tailor-made for that specific person.

It’s a big reason I love social content that helps your audience think with depth–giving them a quick win along the way helps build that situational trust, even in content geared towards a broader population. This is what small business social media is for!

Thinking critically will give the audience members an a-ha moment they wouldn’t have had otherwise–and you’re associated with that moment of clarity. (This is also why content templates aren’t doing you any favors!)

You need to always look at the purpose of your content. You need to answer the question–what’s the freaking point? That’s where setting goals for social media comes in.

Your Content Needs A Goal First: Social Media Objectives Matter

you have to earn attention, but creating content shouldn't be hard

Realistically, most people start posting content, creating content, without actually stopping to answer this question. What is the point of you creating your content? What is the point of you spending all of this time? Effort? Consternation?

Social media content needs a specific goal for each piece

You need a goal. Do you have a solid, reasonable, attainable, and sometimes even lofty goal? 

As long as it meets the rest of the SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, timely) framework, virtually any social media-related purpose you may establish could be fantastic. You simply need an answer to the question:

Is your content objectively doing a good job answering those three AIT questions for each audience member?

Otherwise, what is the freaking point?

Key takeaway: When setting social media goals for small businesses, answering the three AIT questions is more important than how many likes you got.

Key Takeaway:

When setting social media goals for small businesses, answering the three AIT questions is more important than how many likes you got.

Social media–you have to engage

And that brings us back to the ultimate question–do you have to be on social media?

Why are you putting all this time into creating content if you aren’t going to respond to engagement and take it that last mile to finish the marathon and build that situation trust we talked about?

Remember, attention shouldn’t be easy.

Creating content shouldn’t be hard

And also, creating content shouldn’t be hard. If it is feeling hard, you’ve got some questions to ask yourself: 

  1. Are you trying to create content that doesn’t align with your values?
    I’ll spend the same time creating a reel versus a carousel, but one feels way more work to me. And if something is feeling like a lot of work, it’s a good idea to reassess that tactic.
  2. Do you expect every content to stack up likes, or do you expect it to bridge the AIT gap? That’s the real value content.
  3. Do you know the problem and solution you offer intimately? 
  4. Do you know the type of person reading your content so you can use relevant stories?

As you can see, choosing not to be on social media is the right choice for some, but not most online businesses. Bridging the trust gap is easiest with a robust, prolific content plan built on social media posts that hit your overall marketing goals, rather than raising your vanity metrics.

Do you need help creating a content marketing plan that allows you to shine?

We offer complimentary one-on-one consults to help determine if a done-with-you or done-for-you approach is best for you and your business right now.

Setting Social Media Goals for Small Businesses

The big goal of social media for small businesses should be to create a community of customers and followers who interact with your brand on a regular basis. A social media strategy is a document that outlines your social media goals, the tactics you will use to achieve them, and the metrics you will track to measure them. A social media strategy should be aligned with your overall marketing plan and business goals.

Some social media goals for small businesses could include:

  • Generating leads and clients
  • Increasing brand awareness and reach
  • Engaging with customers and followers
  • Building brand loyalty

Combining each of those with the above AIT framework is where some social campaigns excel far and beyond others.

social media goals for small business

Increasing brand awareness with content

IIncreasing brand awareness is by far one of the more important goals for businesses today. We’ve primarily covered engaging with your social audience and generating leads so far–but what about increasing brand awareness and reach? How can you meet those goals of social media content?

When you see a comment or post on social media that either takes one of your topics a step further–or sometimes, delicately, you can address a topic that doesn’t take it as far as your own content–engage with those people! Look into collaborations whether it’s a collab on social platforms in the form of a joint live stream, a podcast conversation, or more.

If your collaborator has a stakehold on another platform that’s larger than your own, all the better.

Building brand loyalty as a goal on social media

The trust portion of the AIT framework is your friend when it comes to brand loyalty. Help an audience member out–whether they become a client or not–and they’ll happily refer you when someone posts on social media looking for an expert on your topic. Showing up consistently over time is another way to build trust and generate loyalty. When your audience always knows you’re going to cover a specific topic well, they’ll tell others about your video channel.

Off the top of my head, I can tell you exactly where I’ll go to or refer people to on these topics:

  • doing customer research for deeply authentic copy
  • executing a bundle strategy and launch
  • data-driven FB ads that still have heart
  • how to set up ClickUp so you don’t want to pull your hair out
  • creating a great LinkedIn strategy, even as an introvert
  • all things Google Workplace, again without pulling your hair out

Now, those are all marketing or business/entrepreneur examples. Rest assured, I also know exactly where to send a friend getting divorced to–and have twice done so in the last month. I know exactly where to send a friend dealing with midlife hormone crashes and which video channel will become their new best friend.

Becoming the go-to expert isn’t difficult–when you’re consistent and you build trust with great content. It really comes down to respecting your audience and knowing that they want answers that go beyond the fluff. They want deep content. And you can be the person that gives it to them and builds a business off serving people this way.

Do you need help creating a content marketing plan that allows you to shine?

We offer complimentary one-on-one consults to help determine if a done-with-you or done-for-you approach is best for you and your business right now.


What are some good tips for a successful social media campaign?

Creating a successful social media campaign requires careful planning and execution. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Set clear objectives: Decide what you want to achieve with your content campaigns, such as increasing brand awareness or filling programs.
  2. Know your audience: Understand who your best client is and what types of content they respond to best. (This is key! Don’t skip this because “you already know that…”)
  3. Develop engaging content: Create compelling visuals, videos, and copy that grab the attention of your audience–by using the AIT framework.
  4. Use the right platforms: Choose platforms that are right for your best client and ensure your content is optimized for each platform.
  5. Monitor results and adjust accordingly: Track the performance of your campaigns (fancy word for groups of posts and messages) and use the data to inform future campaigns.
  6. Leverage influencers: If appropriate, work with collaborators with an established following to reach a larger audience with your message.
the goal of social media is to get attention, interest, and trust from your best client

People also ask: What are 3 main goals of social media?

The three main goals of social media are to connect with others, to share content and ideas, and to build relationships. (Notice, only one of those three is educational by intent!) Sharing content and ideas helps you engage with your followers, spread information about your offers, and inspire conversations that help you make your offers better for your best client. Building relationships and nurturing with helpful resources helps you build trust that leads to better launches.

Resources Mentioned

Music by Michael De La Torre. Thanks, Mikey!

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