Why Social Media Likes Don’t Pay the Bills (And What to Focus on Instead)

September 11, 2018

What we’re covering today is why social media likes don’t pay the bills and I’m going to give you three things as a small business you should be focusing on instead.

So, let’s dive in!

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Social media is one of the most powerful and cost effective marketing platforms currently available to small business.

In the past few years, we’ve personally witnessed countless businesses completely transformed with good socials and a strong content marketing strategy. Brand awareness, leads, sales — it’s all possible.

And yet, there are still so many businesses struggling to make it work for them.


It comes down to this.

Likes don’t pay the bills.

A fixation on followers at any cost is distracting some small business owners from really reaping the benefits that come from cultivating a smaller audience of passionate, engaged brand advocates.

In other words? Followers alone don’t equals sales.

We need to change the conversation. For small businesses to win on social they need to be chasing business, not (just) likes.

Here’s why.

The value of likes

Social media numbers have their place.

They can do wonders for social proof, for one. Potential customers usually conduct a digital interview with a business long before they work with or buy from them.

For service providers, having a good following can act as ‘proof’ that you’re trustworthy and that others have enjoyed working with you. For product based businesses, positive reviews establish trust and confidence.

What’s not helpful, though, are followers that aren’t potential customers themselves (bots, people trying following for follow backs, competitor businesses, people in other states/countries when you are a local business, etc).

Chasing followers like these are ego boosters, but usually end in tears. They’ll follow/unfollow, they won’t engage in a meaningful way (hello, random bot comments), and at the end of the day they aren’t going to buy.

There’s a better way to do things.   

Using social media to win business

Small businesses need to start looking at social as a way to build real and meaningful relationships.

In today’s episode, we are going to break down three ways to do just that.

1// Start conversations:: Find where your ‘ideal clients’ hang out online and make sure you are putting your content there.

2// Add value:: Then, get them interested enough in you (by providing value through good content!) to like your page.

3// Develop ongoing relationships:: And THEN, continue to serve them content good enough to make them want to do business with you at some stage down the track.

1. Start conversations

Did you know that over 53% of all Internet time on mobile phones these days is spent on one of the top 5 social media platforms? FIFTY THREE PERCENT. Which means that there’s a damn good chance your potential clients are spending a fair bit of time scrolling through social media throughout their day.

That’s a VERY GOOD THING. Why? Because it means that you know where their attention is, and now you just need to go and find them and serve them content.

To do that, you need to figure more out about which social media platforms they are on, where they are hanging out within those platforms, and when. And then, you need to show up there and start producing great content.

Whether it’s Facebook groups, LinkedIn, Instagram or Snapchat — pick one, and go all in.

Here’s a few good places to start.


Are you familiar with the Facebook ads manager? Because if you’re not, you should be. And if you want a full run down, head over to episode 28 where I give you a Facebook ads 101 lesson, and episode 32 where I talk about Facebook ad targeting.

Facebook (and Instagram) advertising is the most laser sharp, targeted way to find your ideal clients. Full stop.

It. Is. Amazing.

Don’t believe me? Here are just a few things that you can do:

  • Target people who like the pages of your competitors.
  • Target people within a one km radius of your local business.
  • Target people with a certain number of children, and/or within a certain age group.
  • Target people working for particular companies or in particular industries.
  • Target people in relationships, or single, or recently engaged, or recently married.
  • Target people with similar attributes to the people who have visited your website in the last 180 days.

I could go on and on. There’s literally hundreds of interest, behaviours and the like that you can target through FB ads.

Amazing, right?

Facebook literally allows you to find your exact ideal client, and then serve ads to them. And for now, it’s still incredibly cost effective (as demand goes up, it will be less so – another reason to get in now).

If that isn’t good for your business, I really don’t know what is.


Facebook business pages can feel like a bit of a graveyard these days. You post an update, and *crickets*.

There’s a reason for that.

Facebook organic reach for business pages is now down to just 2%, meaning that for every 100 people connected to your page there’s usually only around two people that actually see your posts. Facebook has it’s reasons for this sharp decline – it’s a business for one, and it needs advertising through content amplification to make money. It also needs to prioritise the sheer volume of content its users see when they log in and so prioritises content from family and friends first. When you’re trying to use Facebook to help your business, neither of these points help you much.

So – where can you find your ideal clients on Facebook AND actually reach them without paying to advertise?

Enter Facebook groups.

Facebook groups are communities of people that all interact within a group environment inside of Facebook. Groups can either be public (for all to see and join), closed (requiring a member to approve a request to join) or secret (members must be invited by an admin or another member depending on settings, and people aren’t about to search for the group).

And they’re completely different to business pages.

Think of a Facebook business page as giving a client a business card, and a Facebook group as sitting down and having a coffee or a beer with them. In a nutshell, it’s more personal and there’s there can be a much greater sense of community interaction.

And the great thing is, reach for posts in groups aren’t affected at all – so if you post something, people are gonna see it.

Facebook groups can be pure gold for service-based businesses, if you use them properly.

You can create one yourself – but that’s a whole topic in itself and I’ll save it for another time. For now, let’s concentrate on growing your followers by seeking out groups where your ideal client hang out.

Here’s a few examples of ways to do just that.

// Find the right groups. You can search for public and closed groups using the Facebook search field and then navigating to groups. If you’re a marketing consultant looking to work with start up businesses, you would search for groups where those people would be most likely to be hanging out – for example, local business groups, closed groups belonging to others with a similar target audience and the like.

You should also ask around, because sometimes the very best groups with the highest engagement levels aren’t easy to find. Remember that the number of people in a group isn’t always the best indicator of how good they are – some of the biggest can get too spammy, whilst some with 1,000 members are super close, tight knit and frequently visited.

// DON’T SELL. Rule number one of Facebook groups is that they are all about adding value to each other. People come to them to participate in relevant and interesting conversations. That DOESN’T include people coming in, talking about themselves and their service or dropping a link to their Facebook group, and bailing.

// Build authority and add value. Find Facebook groups where your ideal clients hang out. Start hanging out there, and interacting with people. Answer their questions. Cheer them on and support them. Celebrate their wins. If you do this in a natural way, people will start to like and trust you, and to see you as an authority in your field. One that they might like to do business with one day.


It’s no secret that Instagram is super hot right now.

With 700 million users – a number that is rapidly growing – there’s a very good chance that the people you want to do business with are hanging out here.

The downside is that Instagram is one platform where it is really bloody easy to end up with lots of the wrong followers, if you get your strategy wrong.

Because you can’t ‘buy’ genuine followers in the same way as you can on Facebook, people resort to all sorts of tactics to try and increase their following – auto-commenting bots, follow/unfollows, random liking.. the list goes on.

There’s four (main) ways that people can find you on Instagram other than specifically search for your name.

It’s super important to make sure that you are adopting the right strategy in relation to each of these, to make sure you are getting your content in front of the right people and not ending up with shady followers.

Let’s break them down:

1// Someone sees your content on another Instagram page, with you tagged in it.

The right strategy: Create amazing content that people are likely to want to regram. Seek out influencers with the same ideal client market as you, and high levels of engagement, and seek to work with them. Consider working with someone in a field with similar ideal clients and a strong following and offering them an Instagram takeover of your account.

The wrong strategy: Creating average content that’s all about you and which people won’t want to share.

2// Someone looks up a location and see your post tagged in that location

The right strategy: *Especially* if you are a local business, always tag your posts with a location so that people searching that location on Instagram find you.

The wrong strategy: Not using location tags at all, because *crickets*. Using location tags that are too big, for example, ‘New York’ rather than ‘Upper Manhattan’ or ‘Starbucks East Village’. Your post can easily get lost.

3// Someone has liked one of your posts and a connection sees it in the ‘following’ activity feed.

The ‘following’ feed gives users a feed of the interactions that the accounts that they follow have had with other accounts.

The right strategy: Genuinely engage with other accounts to encourage others to do the same for you. DON’T just ‘like’’ every single post you come across, but follow the accounts you’re interested in and which have a similar ideal client base and comment/like their posts over time so that you develop a bit of a relationship. They will start to do the same for you, and you will benefit through increased exposure to their followers in the ‘following’ activity feed.

The wrong strategy: Ahhh, there’s so many. Using automated bots to auto-comment on posts en masse. Randomly ‘liking’ hundreds of posts even if you have no idea where they are the right people.

4// Someone looks up a hashtag that you have used and your post appears

The right strategy: Ahh, hashtags. I have a love/hate relationship with ‘em. They’re important because they are one of the only ways for people to find you on the gram. But, for the exact same reason, they can be bloody annoying. In my own personal experience, hashtagging just about *never* results in the right followers because so many people use them to try grow their own account with follow/unfollows, but there are some things that you can do to improve your chances.

You can use up to 30 hashtags (it’s a good idea to put them in the first comment so that it doesn’t look too spammy). But, for gods sake make sure you only use RELEVANT hashtags. And be specific. Instead of using, say, #marketing, use #brisbanemarketing if you are a local agency looking for local clients.

The wrong strategy: Using spammy hashtags which are full of people just trying to grow their own following – for example, #love or #happy or #socialmedia or #entrepreneur. You grow the wrong type of followers and attract bot comments – and you’ll lose those followers just as fast.

So, there are some ideas for finding your ideal client and where they are hanging out on Facebook and Instagram.

Now for the second step in our strategy.

2. Add value:: Get them interested enough in you (through good content that talks to them!) to like your page.

People don’t like being sold to. And these days, it’s easy to ignore any business that tries to.

If you want followers to connect with you and follow you on social, you need to be providing them with something they want. A social media ‘follow’ or ‘like’ is a big thing — it means that a potential client or customer likes your stuff so much that they want to see it in their news feed.

In order to attract followers, small businesses need to be crystal clear on who their ideal client is, and then go all in on producing content that those people find valuable.

The key? Being specific, not general. Tailor your content to your audience. By speaking to everyone, you’re ultimately speaking to no-one.

It’s also important to keep in mind that this social media thing isn’t all about you. Whether it’s through educating, informing or adding value, focus on a content strategy that helps your clients with their problems rather than just promoting your product or service.

Here’s a few ways to do that.


Social media is a marketing platform, with storytelling at its heart. A good way to do this is to ask yourself what you’re really in the business of, and then create content about that. When you’re thinking about this, it’s important to consider not the service itself, but rather the outcome it provides to your potential clients.

For example, a tax return company might post pictures of happy clients and tell the story in the caption of what they did with the extra money they received through their tax return.

2// HELP

Make a list of all of the most commonly asked questions people have in relation to your business, create content around it and amplify it via social media. Generally, these questions are ones that companies don’t usually talk about, and they fall into one of five categories; cost, problem questions (what is the drawbacks to X), comparisons, best of questions (which is the best X) and reviews. Creating content around these questions sets you apart from your competitors and establishes you as a transparent, trusted source of information.


Inspiration and aspiration are two of the very biggest motivations for people being on social media in the first place.

Take Pinterest, for example. If a 45 year old woman is on there at 7 at night browsing with a glass of wine, you can bet that shes either actually looking to buy something, or aspiring to buy something that she can’t necessarily afford (yet).

Same goes with Instagram. A lot of the accounts followed by Instagram users provide them with content that either inspires them or is aspirational.

If it fits your business, I’d highly recommend producing content that fits this social media need. There’s a huge appetite for it, and it has the potential to do wonders for your business.

How? Startup Creative – a business coaching business – do a great job of this on Insta by creating inspiration quotes for people looking to start a business.

3. Develop ongoing relationships

Step three is to continue with step two over, and over, and over — or forever.

It’s that simple, and that hard.

Think of social media as entering into a kind of relationship with every follower you attract. Like all relationships, trust and rapport is key. You get that by giving more than you take, and you do that by consistently delivering value.

Then, when the day comes that your followers need a product or service like yours, your business is the obvious choice.

Yes, it’s a slower burn and followers and likes don’t translate into immediate sales. It takes time, patience and consistency. But in the end? It’s how you win.

Chase business, not followers.

So, just to recap this episode all about why social media likes pay the bills, I just want to end by saying that at the end of the day social media isn’t all about attracting HEAPS AND HEAPS of followers. Sure, that’s an ego boost, and it can have certain benefits and if they are the RIGHT followers – people that will actually do business with you – then great! But, it’s much more about attracting the right followers and looking after them well. Your engagement will be higher, which means that your content will be seen by more people which means that you will attract more followers – it’s a big cycle.

So, what to you need to do:

1/ Step one is KNOWING your ideal client and then going to where they are hanging out on social.

2/ Step two is to then lead with value!

3/ And step three is to consistently do that over and over and over.

Quality over quantity. Every single time.

It’s that simple, and that hard!

Keep Listening!

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