Using social media to build a business has become a norm. However, while it works for some creators and brings in great results without them burning out, others might find social media to be more of a chore than an enjoyable part of being a creator.
The good news is that there are other alternatives to social media. You can break free from the constant demand of the algorithm. And you can successfully build a business and attract your ideal audience without posting on Instagram, TikTok, and other platforms.
If you’re ready to kiss social goodbye and are looking for ideas on how to build an audience without them, then you’ve come to the right place.
A good testimonial can go a long way.
Why build an audience without social media?
The invention of social media has changed the way we consume media and opened up many opportunities for people to make money online doing what they love. And while there are great things that come with social media, it also has a few disadvantages that can impact the way you choose to build your audience.
You should own your audience
While social media platforms are a great place to find and build your audience because millions of people are looking for content, you don’t own the audience you build. Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and other apps are the ones in control of whether or not your audience sees your posts and whether or not you’re allowed to be on their platform.
Depending on the industry you’re in, you might face issues with censorship, which means that your social media profile with thousands of followers can disappear overnight. Or in the case of TikTok, with a potential ban, the platform as a whole could disappear as an option for audience building. Social media is an amazing place to start putting your brand out there and finding people interested in you. But once you have their attention, your goal should always be to move that audience to more reliable places, like your email list.
You don’t need constant algorithm changes
Platforms like Instagram and TikTok are constantly changing their algorithms. This is just one of the many reasons some people are saying influencing is over. Last year, many creators were struggling to keep up with these two platforms prioritizing videos versus static posts. All those changes are good for the overall health of the platforms, however, they can be extremely stressful and taxing on creators.
If you only build your platform on social media platforms like TikTok, Twitter, or Instagram, you’ll have to rely on them to show your content to your followers. And while one day you might be creating viral posts on TikTok, and growing at a rapid pace, it’s not guaranteed tomorrow because algorithms can change anytime.
You can prevent burnout
All online creators wear multiple hats – you’re a writer, video editor, producer, marketer, and much more. While it can be fun at first, having too many things on your plate can lead to unwanted burnout.
That’s especially true when you consider the constant algorithm changes that require you to spend a huge part of your time and effort trying to figure out how to leverage the algorithm to your benefit.
Also, social media has the tendency to be addictive. It can be hard to put down your phone and turn off your work brain when it’s so easily accessible. You might feel pressure to always be online, to reply to comments, and post Instagram stories to ensure you’re maxing out your chances with the algorithm, which also adds to increased chances of burnout.
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How to build an audience outside of social media
If you’re ready to move away from relying on social media to build your audience, then let’s talk about all the alternative ways you can do so that is still effective.
Build a strong network
Networking tends to have a bad reputation, but when done authentically, it can be an amazing way to build long-lasting success with your online course business. Depending on who your audience is and what industry you’re in, you have access to different ways to network:
- Word of mouth: to this day, word of mouth is one of the most effective forms of marketing with over 90% of people trusting friends’ recommendations and 75% of people trusting consumer reviews online. Take advantage of your student testimonials and build strong social proof for your business.
- Networking events: networking events can still be beneficial. You can look up your local events or conferences that are out of town to go meet other entrepreneurs and online course creators which can lead to amazing collaborations and friendships.
- Referrals: create a program for your current students that offers various benefits if they refer a friend to take your course. It’s a simple yet reliable strategy that offers even more value to your current students and attracts valuable new leads.
Blogging and SEO
Despite what you might hear people say, blogging is still very much a fantastic strategy to build your business and attract the right audience. Even 81% of American online consumers trust the information they read on blogs. That is why over 70% of B2B and B2C marketers use content marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy.
Content marketing is a long-term game and ranking high for certain keywords with SEO will take at least six months (more likely a year). However, it’s worth the time investment. Not only is it a fantastic way to attract new leads, and build trust with your existing audience, but it also gives you an opportunity to provide even more value to your audience for free.
It’s a great way to showcase that even your free content is high quality, which will only entice your audience to pay for premium content from you.
Affiliate marketing can be a fantastic way to attract new, high-quality leads to your online course business. The way it works it’s fairly easy. You create an affiliate program for your online courses, or even digital products like ebooks, so that past students and other course creators would be able to join and recommend your products to other people.
Anna from The She Approach is a blogging coach and she has a few online courses as well as a store with her digital products that complement her courses. She runs an affiliate program where other bloggers can sign up and promote her products. With her affiliate program bloggers earn 35% commission, and that translates into anywhere from $6 to $69 per sale. That’s a great incentive!
Creating an affiliate program for your products and online courses can be very effective, because people are more likely to buy from people they trust, just like with any other form of word-of-mouth marketing.
While you might think that email marketing is oversaturated with so many people receiving so many newsletters, it’s still one of the most effective forms of marketing. In fact, the latest statistics show that the average ROI for email marketing is $40 for every dollar spent on email marketing.
Your email list is something that you own 100%. It doesn’t matter if the algorithm changes or a platform loses its popularity, the people who are on your list are always there and you’ll always be able to reach them.
So, consider creating relevant high-quality lead magnets that will help you attract the ideal student to your online course business. Create an automated welcome sequence that introduces all new leads to your brand and start nurturing those leads with regular value-packed newsletters.
Collaborate with influencers
Influencer marketing is another way to harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing for your business. Even 93% of marketers use influencer marketing in their overall marketing strategy. Collaborating with influencers in your niche can be a great way to build your audience.
Spend some time researching the most relevant influencers in your niche. Don’t only go for the big names, smaller influencers can be just as effective (if not more!) at bringing in valuable leads. Reach out to those influencers and discuss their rates as well as in what ways they collaborate with brands.
Forming a few quality partnerships is more than enough and can benefit your brand long-term. Also, don’t forget to track your ROI to see if working with an influencer pays off sales-wise. Climbing follower count on Instagram is a vanity metric. Instead, you should pay attention to how many of those followers convert to paying customers.
Whether or not you have a blog, guest blogging on other people’s blogs can be a great way to reach new audiences and attract new customers. So, research blogs in your niche and see which ones are taking guest bloggers. Make a list of five to 10 high-quality blogs that have a similarly sized audience to yours.
Reach out to the owners of those blogs and pitch blog posts that are relevant to their audience. Usually, the blog owners will allow you to include an author bio where you can introduce yourself and your brand, and they sometimes even allow links to your website which is good for backlink building and SEO, plus to invite new people who are interested in learning more about you to reach you.
If you’re better at speaking than writing, then consider guest podcasting. Audio content has been on the rise in the past few years and it seems that more and more people are tuning in to listen to podcasts on their daily commutes or while doing the dishes.
Starting a podcast yourself might be daunting because it does require audio production knowledge, so appearing on someone else’s podcast can be much more efficient. So, research all the podcasts that are in your niche and where you think you could find a new audience.
Usually, if a podcast has guests, then they have a form you can submit where you can pitch yourself. If you can’t find the form, no worries! You can definitely draft an email with a pitch and send it to the podcast host.
When cold pitching a podcast host, always keep in mind the value you could add to their show. Chances are that they receive quite a few pitches for guest applications, so you really need to show up and give a reason why they should invite you, and not someone else.
Build a community
Community is key to the longevity of your business. So, focus on building a community around your business to help you further grow your audience and reach even more people. People are always looking to connect with other like-minded people and if you can create a friendly space online for them to do that, it can have fantastic results for your brand.
Invite your current students to join your community and be active within it. Allow your current audience to interact with each other, and encourage them to invite more people who would be interested in what you have to offer. Once again, it’s another form of word-of-mouth marketing, which is one of the most effective selling forces.
You can break free from social media
There are so many ways to build your audience without relying on social media. And many reasons to do it too. Nobody wants to burnout feeling like they have to chase constant algorithm changes just so that their small business can thrive. So cast off the social expectations and take your audience into your own hands.