A colleague and I were co-agonizing over the fact that social media has expanded the field of responsibility for business owners so much that it’s overwhelming. These days, you aren’t just expected to stay top-of-mind with local networkees—you are also supposed to figure out how to reach and stay connected with all possible followers in the WORLD! How is it possible? What if we can’t do it?
I admire bloggers who have thousands of followers and large companies who cultivate and nurture thousands of subscribers. But what if your company isn’t a behemoth with unlimited resources? What if you don’t have the time to blog every day because you are busy doing what you do best to serve your customers? Past a certain point, are the resources of the marketing department really best served by increasing followers?
Time and space (and money) limit marketing gains
As with many things in life, the reality is what it is. Our ambition is self-limiting by time and space (and money, which fuels time and space). As we watch the movement of companies on the web, an interesting thing is happening. Those who have enough business to fill the day don’t blog daily. Audiences are expanding to fill the individual’s time or the enterprise’s budget, then they are plateauing.
At first glance, we see this as a bad thing. We’ve been working our tails off to grow our audiences as fast as possible. Isn’t it a disaster when the growth stops? An organization’s leaders sometimes see a drop-off of growth in followers as a failure. My friend and I decided it’s not necessarily so. As a matter of fact, maybe it’s a good thing.
Natural audience limitations help focus marketing goals
When our audience reaches its physical or virtual limit, suddenly our goals become clearer. We can settle down and get to know the people in our business microcosm and serve them better. As writers, it becomes easier to define who we are trying to reach. The audience’s face comes into focus.
It’s akin to the mom-and-pop shop down the street. The small grocer’s clientele is limited to people in the neighborhood who don’t want to go miles away to the supermarket. As a result, they come to the store more often. The smaller group of customers is easier to get to know. The proprietor knows your name and greets you with a smile, which makes you want to come back. The store can order items you are especially fond of and promote them more intimately. When you wonder about the quality of a new product, you trust your friend in the business to give it to you straight.
This doesn’t mean a business should stop reaching out to new potential customers or targeting the business to certain types of clients. Some followers aren’t ideal customers, and you can draw your attention away from them and toward those who really need what you have to offer, constantly fine tuning and purifying your prospect pool and client base. Reaching the plateau just means your business has matured, and you can get down to the business of serving people better than ever.
If you are getting pressure to keep growing your customer base, make sure everyone understands there is a balance to be struck. Don’t put so much time into dogging followers that you cripple your ability to provide good service to those already right there waiting for your attention.