One question that I argue with myself about often is the merit of building a personal audience.
I’ve talked in the past about how those with a large audience seemingly are playing a different game than the rest of us.
They can launch new products and services, raise money, hire top talent, and seemingly operate on a different level than those without much reach.
But the question is: at what price do the time and cost of building an audience come?
And, would you be better off simply buying that slice of your audience’s mindshare via paid social?
Below, I’ll talk through both sides of the discussion as I see it and then share how I’m implementing.
Build Your Audience
To keep this boxed in a bit, I’m talking just about building a personal audience, not a brand for your company.
And to make things a bit more daunting for this side of the discussion, here are the places I think you COULD look at building an audience:
- Social: Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok, LinkedIn, Facebook, and all the others that will come later.
- Content: YouTube, Podcasting, Blogging
- Email: Newsletters (like my Founder Insights)
This list alone is a bit of a red flag for me. Deciding on one (maybe two) of these platforms to concentrate your efforts on is daunting.
Let alone executing on it for years on end.
If you’re going this route, I would strongly suggest picking just ONE channel and hammer on it for at least a year.
- It can be free. You don’t need much budget to start a podcast, build a blog, or launch a YouTube channel. Anyone can do it; it’s just time and effort.
- It can be somewhat evergreen. Personal/Social content has a shelf life, but it can be rediscovered, especially on non-social platforms like YouTube, blogging, podcasting, and email.
- It can take a long time. I wouldn’t plan on seeing an actual impact in my business from this for at least a year.
- It could result in zero results if your personal brand is not aligned with your business objectives.
- There’s a huge platform risk on social.
Buy Your Audience’s Attention
For the sake of this discussion, I’ll restrict this to just the realm of “paid social” and I’ll include YouTube ads here as well…even though that’s kind of cheating.
The premise is that instead of creating the content and earning the audience, can I simply buy my way into their attention span?
When it comes to paid social channels, your options are:
- Meta: Facebook and Instagram
- YouTube – I know, kind of cheating, but I put it here because it is interest-based, not strictly intent/search based
I know all of us SaaS folks have heard that FB ads are dead, they’re to expensive, and they just don’t work.
Personally, that’s not been my experience, and I think that’s largely a self-defeating mindset.
Anything “can” work…it’s likely just a matter of the plug-and-play template you found from a 4 year old blog post that didn’t work the first time you tried it.
Truth is that paid social and paid search (AdWords) are just different beasts. They serve a different purpose in gaining the attention of your target audience, and should be used at different points in the customer buying journey.
The other consideration here is time. Do you want to invest in one of these initiatives now to see results in your business in the next quarter?
Then you can throw organic social out the window.
Even if you’re spending all of your time on it you won’t see a dramatic impact in your audience growth in a few months, much less that audience taking a business-impacting action like buying your product or service.
Best Of Both Worlds
I think the truth is that paid and organic social compliment each other, and that’s the path I’m taking.
I’ve been hard at work the past few weeks creating a LOT of new content. Because I believe that genuine, authentic, organic content is really important for Castos and for my personal brand.
I come from a content background and have seen it continue to have positive impacts on my business for years.
Creating organic content for my brand won’t pay dividends today, but it’s the long term investment of having a channel and assets that I own completely that gives me peace of mind.
But I also see the time impact of paid acquisition, and it is truly one of the highest-leverage forms of marketing out there. You can literally get new customers TODAY…don’t think any tweet or post would do that.
Paring the combination of great organic content alongside nudges in your audience’s mindshare in the form of paid social is a great way to think about really grabbing the attention of your ideal customers.
That’s the path I’m taking.