I’m going to play the contrarian to point out something that isn’t spoken about in discussions about marketing a coaching business.
While I don’t have a belief that anyone should leave social media or refuse to market there, I become more convinced about the importance of questioning our assumptions about marketing, especially when you’ve had a niggling feeling that something isn’t right.
As with everything I say, test it out for yourself.
If what you’re doing with social media is working for you, go with it. But if you’re interested in exploring something that might upset your status quo, read on.
Dave Booda is a polyamorous artist living in an intentional community. After discovering his article, “A Practical Guide to Taking Back Your Power From Social Media (Without Deleting It),” I contacted him for a chat.
Facebook allows Dave to put his work out into the world and see how far it can go, and he’s determined to do that without allowing that velocity to come back at him, by turning it into a one-way broadcasting platform.
If your business depends upon social media as a sole source of leads, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable.
Dave sees all social media as a fad that will come and go. With changes to the platform, algorithm and potential legal issues, creating alternate means of connecting with potential clients is a practical necessity.
In taking back his power, Dave uses social media to connect with his audience, and then invites them to join his email list and website where he retains full ownership and control of his content.
How Social Media Takes Advantage of You
As an artist, writer and musician, Dave makes a living with his creations. Once his words and images are shared on social media, they no longer belong to him.
Facebook uses you as their unpaid journalist and photographer, creating the content that keeps people on their platform so that they can make money.
“You’re working for them without being paid and it’s costing your mental health,” Dave says.
A quick Google search reveals numerous studies suggesting that unhealthy social media use contributes to numerous mental health issues, so I won’t get into them here. Social media is a tool which can be used to either help or to harm. How you use it is up to you.
Dave sees social media platforms exploiting our desire for validation and need to be seen. The metrics of likes and comments provide tangible “proof” of your worth, something we don’t get from real person-to-person relationships.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of chasing likes–and judging myself if I don’t get them.
“One unit of energy in social media isn’t the same as investing in an actual relationship or even an email address.”Dave Booda
When Art Becomes Click-Bait
Clicks. Engagements. Impressions.
Artists on social media can easily succumb to the temptation to create content for the algorithm, rather than creating substantive work that may not earn as many engagements. The artistic impulse is corrupted by playing to the numbers.
If you’re out to create art that moves you and others, don’t allow social media’s response to be the judge.
While your reach may be potentially greater, so is the danger of seeking mass approval by conforming to the opinions of others.
The Cult of Coaching
Dave points out the corruption of coaching in the social media space. Coaches reach a certain level of success, usually measured in terms of multiple six or seven figures with a brand image to match. Then they turn around and teach other coaches to follow in their footsteps.
What coaches are buying is how to make money and look good doing it, rather than creating a service of value.
“[The unspoken promise is] we’re going to help you manipulate people and make more money. Sell the sizzle. If they don’t like the steak, have a refund policy,” Dave say in critique of these coach trainers.
The promise of fast results and quick cash overshadows relationship connection and personal transformation. Like any business worth creating, building a coaching business requires effort and energy over time, and unrealistic expectations can lead coaches to either burn out or sell out.
The comment hits close to home for me, as a coach who works with coaches. I’ve fallen for the “proven formulas” myself, and most of my client-playmates are dealing with the crash after the sugar-high of false promises.
Why did we get into coaching in the first place? Was it to change lives or to make passive income selling the strategy we used to become successful?
These are questions worth asking.
“We need more self-expression in this world, not more conformity. We need less commodification and more connection, but not the kind that Facebook pedals as addiction, the real kind — the kind that has you feel better after you leave a platform.”Dave Booda in “I Miss Blogs“
A Challenge For Coaches
When I ask Dave Booda for his advice to coaches, healers and change-makers on using social media for their businesses, he answers with a series of questions to honestly establish what you’re after.
Is making money the most important thing to you? If not, what is?
What do you really stand for?
How many clients do you actually need? What is “enough” when it comes to getting clients?
How is the time and effort you spend marketing contributing to your life a year from now? Is it nourishing you and your community?
The fastest way to get more clients is to have real conversations with people, not via comments and Messenger. Social media offer the promise of more, but at the cost of your time and energy spent on thousands of shallow connections, when a few deep ones are enough to keep most coaches fully booked.
“If you’re taking on the real goal by rethinking these questions,” Dave says to me, “it’s not just another marketing strategy. You can’t give up junk social media without giving up your junk values.”
Connect with Dave
Podcast: Darken the Page
Dave is right. It’s not a quick fix or an easy answer.
My Un-Marketing Experiment is causing me to re-evaluate my intentions and reinvent my entire way of doing business. I want to create and share content that delivers value and transformation on its own, whether you ever choose to become a client or not.
This isn’t a heavy choice; it’s a natural one. Finding a different path in business is lighter and easier, even with its challenges, simply because it’s mine.
Press on, brave one. Ask these questions and trust yourself to find the answers.
Yours in creative play,
P.S. If you’re successfully getting client leads without social media and would like to be featured in the Unmarketing Experiment, contact me.