Infomercials were the late night guilty indulgence of the late 90s and early 2000s. Someone obviously bought the stuff because they ran for years. Rich-looking people you've never heard of before surrounded by attractive women claimed to make their fortune flipping houses with none of their own money. They promised to teach you how to do the same by purchasing their program for a small fee, of course.
This is EXACTLY how I feel about the current state of social media and the ongoing scourge of click funnel programs. I can't scroll through any of my feeds without several ads proclaiming the discovery of the "One Thing You Must Do Now" to get more leads or sales, but only if you download an eBook or sign up for a free webinar right now.
Social Media Is Fools Gold
My newest favorite source for source for startup information and opinion is Alleywatch. It was THIS article that inspired me to write this post. John Darwin put into words what I've come to understand from my own mistakes and travels through the startup world. Social media is a powerful tool when used correctly. Results manifest after a sustained effort over time and are not a magic potion to fix all the ails your business.
Like Tommy Vu above, social media feels like using someone else's money to make your own. Entrepreneurs fall prey to the statistically insignificant stories of "free" social media success and the traction it produces.
Founders foolishly believe money for marketing budgets can be pushed into product development. Little do they realize that mature social media platforms like Facebook have changed their algorithm to favor paid ads and promoted content. Organic "free" reach is pushed down the priority list in favor of people who pay the bills.
The truth of the matter is the "free" social media success stories come after years of content creation, posting, grinding, and pivoting. The majority of startup founders and investors can't wait for ROI that long. Like Darwin said in his Alleywatch.com post, ..."if you expect to be able to show exactly what you are getting out of social media for every dollar you spend, you're going to be disappointed."
There is no magic to be found in the social media sphere anymore. But what about SnapChat, Mr. Cynical Technology Blogger? SnapChat has raised $2.6 billion in four years all on the potential of a return and still hasn't turned a profit. Gross revenue in 2015 was $3.1 million. It doesn't have click through links for brands to drive people to eCommerce sites. Once SnapChat matures and has to make money like everyone else, it becomes another Facebook and LinkedIn favoring paid ad placement over organic reach and sharing.
The Click Funnel Fallacy
I can't scroll through ANY of my social media feeds without multiple paid ads for the newest and best sales funnel software program. Twitter is the worst with its ongoing parade of social media and sales gurus. All of them promise they can increase your leads by some insane percentage or your money back. This is a sales line similar to sports betting handicappers where they promise winners or your money back.
For a small fee you too can learn the secrets of how to get thousands of warm sales leads that will convert in just minutes a day. Come to my free webinar and learn how to get more contacts than you can handle. (Buy my book/software while you're here.)
Sounds a lot like the last half of the above video doesn't it?
The truth here lies in the fact these programs are watered down versions of real CRM software. On top of that, with a little time and a few Google searches, every business blog has these techniques on their site somewhere. Why pay someone for something you get do for free? Why pay for a system that doesn't completely fit your particular business?
I'll save you the hour sitting in the webinar listening to the fluff sales pitch, $100 a month, and endless email spam with this image:
But I Know A Guy. . .
I'm not saying social media and funnel software hasn't worked for anyone. Without a certain percentage of success, these products would just fade away in favor of something more effective. It's a lot like playing blackjack and craps for a living. I'm sure you know a person who has made a great living from applying these principles and getting lucky on social media.
There are TV shows about house flipping professionals with sketchy pasts. I invite you to Google Armando Montelongo for yourself. When it comes to sales funnel software, you are really buying someone's charisma and confidence. Do you ever hear of a major brand buying Russell Brunson's software programs or sales process?
There are no internet marketing secrets you cannot find for yourself with the use of a search engine and some brains.
Embrace The Grind
There is no magic pill, no special secret only a few people know, and no amazing technique that replaces putting in the work. You can build a great social media following with consistent content creation and interaction. It takes years unless you want to buy ads. You can create a great sales process for free. You don't need someone to tell you what is already out there.
It's hard. I completely understand. I've been researching and writing about startups for over a year. I fell prey to these myths myself. Embrace the grind and put in the work. Maybe in a few years your startup will be the next overnight sensation and get bought by Google.