“Why Do I Get So Little Support From My Friends?” And Other Inaccurate Perceptions of Success

When I kicked off Culture127’s social media efforts in late May, I was all too excited to tell my personal community about it.

I sent out a few personal messages to some friends for their support to like my accounts. Then I shared the news on my personal social media page, rallying for support.

The result? Not everyone went for it.

To be honest, I was hurt that I didn’t get more support from certain friends. Like, “I tHoUgHt yOu gUys WeRe mY FrIenDs??”

I moped. I sulked. I judged some of my friends for being bad friends.

And for a while I asked myself whether the issue was with me. Self-condemnation set in and I began to believe that I was just not good enough for their attention and support.

One day, as I was wallowing in another moment of self-pity, the truth suddenly dawned on me and changed everything.

I was looking at the wrong target audience.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think that it’s all right to get your community’s support. It is nice to rally around friends who are starting up on their own, and rah-rah them a bit.

But while some friends can support me by liking my page, they were most definitely not my target audience. And constantly investing my time in trying to gain their likes is most certainly barking up the wrong tree.

Are you barking up the wrong tree?

In fact, do you even know what your “tree” is?

This very misalignment, or lack of knowledge, could be the very reason why you aren’t getting the results you want in your business or initiative. The Lord knows, I most certainly had not been seeing results for a long time, because I had an inaccurate idea of what success should look like.

Here are two ways you might be viewing success inaccurately.

1. Seeking validation from the wrong group.

Let me begin by establishing that we should not base our self-worth on the opinions of other people. As much as many of us are well-meaning humans, we are generally fickle in our affections and attention, and will most definitely fail and disappoint each other every now and then. If you depend on people to make you feel worthy or happy, you are going to get very hurt when they disappoint you. Don’t do that! Place your worth in something that is eternal, lasting, and won’t fail. (Food for thought: Ever wonder what that is?)

This does not mean that you completely blow off people, and reject anyone who rejects you.

We exist – our businesses exist – to serve a particular group of people. Some people/businesses serve bigger masses and groups. Others serve a more niche market. Some will serve yacht-buying, champagne-popping wealthy folk in a first world country. Others will serve single moms in Southeast Asia. I’m just naming imaginary people groups here, but you get my idea. We all exist to serve specific groups of people, based on our experiences, personalities, gifts and talents, and abilities.

And that is wonderful! It is not something to be compared.

I believe that this understanding should be carried into our marketing efforts.

We first need to identify who our target audience is. Let’s be objective about it. Your target audience is not another “you” (unless you are certain that you have many other people like you out there, and your services are designed to solve their problems). Your target audience may not necessarily be your friends either.

And once you know who your target audience is – you have to take the necessary steps to go get ’em. This probably means you really need to step out of your own head. So often, solopreneurs and small business owners manage their content based on what their own personal preferences. If you really want to reach your target audience, however, you have to be ready to lay down what you like, and start learning how to speak like your target audience.

So many people fail here because it’s not easy. We like being comfortable with how we do it. “You mean I have to go and delve deep into their world? To figure out how to speak their language and live their life? This is so much work!” Pretty much. It’s a little like courtship, isn’t it?

You’re in good company, though. I’m still in this whole exercise of understanding my target audience. And I believe I will always be learning something new.

2. Looking at the wrong metrics for success.

My friend is an itinerant Christian preacher. He has been visiting and preaching at churches all across Singapore and neighbouring cities for the past five years or so. Whenever we meet up for coffee or a meal, I like to pick his brain and hear his thoughts about how to do ‘ministry’ well.

One of the most notable learning points I took away recently, was the vanity of outward affirmation, especially on social media.

“It’s easy for people to tell me, “Wow, your message was so good!”. It is undoubtedly encouraging to know that my content is being shared and liked outwardly,” he told me, “But if your heart is not transformed by what I preached, or if you do not go back and process it with God, then what good has it really done?”

I will mirror this example with social media marketing. I always say that social media post likes are the lowest commodity of engagement that anyone can get. It is SO easy to achieve. Anyone can like or share your post if you simply tell them to, as a favour to you. However, what good does it do if that is all there is to it?

I have a client whose Instagram account is followed by more than 55k people. Her posts’ likes average at the hundreds. However, she has once mentioned to me, “Sue, I am not going to spend money on creating content that can get me more likes. These stats don’t matter if my sales do not increase.” Wow. She totally got it.

So we focused more on understanding her target audience. We learned what they liked, their purchase habits, and when they came online. As a result, she began selling out her collections more quickly.

She doesn’t have an “aesthetic” Instagram feed. Some people will claim it’s a mess, and not pleasing to the eye because of the myriad of bright colours. Perhaps, it’s not for them, then. On the other hand, she’s got hundreds of loyal followers who subscribe to her post updates so that they do not miss a sale.

Vanity metrics are not the immediate determiners of business success.

We love getting likes, that’s for sure. It makes us feel good. However, if we want to see real success for our business or initiative, we need to rise above that temporal dopamine rush, and start working to engage authentically with the people we were determined to serve in the first place. Like all relationships, this will take a fair bit of effort and time.

Also, you may not always get it right – you might even get rejected at times. But don’t let this slight discomfort push you into seeking convenient vanity metrics that don’t do more than boost your ego, and not your sales.

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