OPINION: Talking About Your *Failing Business* Is The Worst Investment In Your Career
Content creators, business owners, solopreneurus, find somewhere else to vent.
It’s another day, another addition of the Frolics
I’m, as always, Ellen “Jelly” McRae, the writer/solopreneur/content creator/whatever you want to call me, with the goods.
By trade, I write ‘💜 1 Lovelock Drive 💜’ and relationship articles using my experiences.
To my faithful, welcome back. I’ve missed you!
If you’re new to my blogletter, I’m pretty happy you’re here. Stay awhile, get to know me, and come with me as I stuff up life, make amazing and dumb-ass career decisions, and share my *cough cough* wisdom.
Let’s Bring You Up To Speed
I used to follow this amazing content creator on Instagram.
A marvellous, talented woman, who loved to use Photoshop and editing apps to create fun, abstract photography.
She used to give behind the scenes looks at her process, and hype up new images like she was launching products. You could see this was her creative outlet (what she did for a day job, I have no idea), and the fans loved her.
But then the dreaded Instagram algorithm changed content creation for her.
And for everyone trying to earn a crust on the platform. Everyone who depended on likes, views and comments suddenly felt the sting of declining interactions and a shortening fanbase. This creator I followed felt it more than others.
How do I know this?
Because she told everyone on her Instagram account about how her posts weren’t doing well, how her stats were falling, and how hard it was for her. Numbers. Likes declining. Explicit noting of how many views her videos plummeted by.
At first, I was empathetic. This had to be hard. Any person with eyes could see how challenging her life had become.
But the complaining didn’t stop, nor has it, as I noticed the other day, checking in on her. Every day it’s the same complaint; why are my stats so low?
Here’s what this situation has taught me: Your fans don’t want you to talk about your failing business. In fact, it’s working against you.
What I Know: Your Customers Don’t Want To Hear You Whine
It’s undeniable to anyone who has a life that sometimes it’s tough. Life gets hard, through no fault of our own.
And whilst everyone likes to have a whine, they enjoy venting their frustrations, your customers, fans and supporters aren’t the people you should have this conversation with.
I’m not saying you should never have a vent, by the way. Trust me, I have them all the time, with my husband as the sounding board. But I choose my audience. Right people, right timing.
For many of our fans, we are their escape.
We are the place where they come to get away or fix an issue for themselves or indulge in a part of life different from their own.
They don’t want to come to us and hear life is bad, just like theirs.
They don’t want to hear our rant and feel worse about their situation.
Of course, they’re going to stop following and supporting you when that happens. We sound too much like a reflection of ourselves they don’t want to think about.
Another Way Of Looking At It: Your Fans Don’t Want To Know You Aren’t *Cool*
What this girl on Instagram was doing, most likely without realising it, is telling everyone how “uncool” she is. She’s saying that people have stopped liking her and following her.
By pointing out the way her stats are struggling, she is almost admitting to doing something wrong.
It’s like, “look here, my work sucks and everyone knows it. Do you agree?”
And, as we’re creatures of following the behaviours of other people, she is indirectly telling her existing fans to leave too.
If we know people are leaving, she is forcing us to make a choice. We either stand by her, or we leave with everyone else to the hottest, coolest thing.
In her situation, that’s the last thing she should be doing. This is a situation of fake it until you make it.
I Need Cheerleaders
She might argue that now, more than ever, she needs her loyal fans to share her content, and be her cheerleaders. And there is a right way of asking them to do this. You can ask people to support you without pointing out your failures.
You don’t have to give your fans a sob story to gain sympathy.
Because it can backfire on you. Here’s how:
It’s inviting unwanted analysis to her content. The moment she revealed she was losing fans, I couldn’t help analysing her latest images and reels. I looked at what she was producing differently, and critically. If I was doing this, I could only imagine what others were thinking, too.
You find yourself inundated with analysis. The pressure to get it right has never been more necessary. Yet, you don’t need to ask your fans to be your critics too. It’s the last thing you need during this time.
Do You Know: They Don’t Follow You To Talk “Content Creation”
Unless you coach people on content creation, your fans don’t see you as a “content creator”. They see you as a writer, a make-up artist, or a fitness guru.
They don’t want you to talk about content creation. Your fans want you to talk about what you offer them.
The whole thing is kayfabe.
If you don’t this wrestling term, kayfabe refers to the way wrestlers used to keep up the act of their character outside of the ring. They would wear their wrestling mask to the shops, and never break character.
To the fans, they weren’t “wrestlers”. They were their characters. They were Hulk Hogan and not Terry Bollea. They were The Rock, not Dwayne Johnson.
And it was an unsaid rule between the wrestlers that you never broke kayfabe.
Now with social media, it’s impossible to do this. But the tradition has merit.
If you want to sell an idea, you don’t talk about the fact you’re selling.
By pointing out your falling stats, or lacking brand deals, you’re reminding your audience they aren’t fans or followers. They are customers. And in this environment, we don’t want to feel like that with content creators. We want to feel like people.
FYI: Businesses Don’t Discuss Falling Sales
And if we want to treat our endeavours as a true business, let’s take a lesson from the big guys. Unless reporting sales to shareholders, businesses don’t discuss their slow sales with their customers. It’s taboo, a complete no-no.
We don’t complain to the people who keep our business afloat. It’s preaching to the choir.
We don’t point out to the people sustaining our business how they aren’t doing enough to keep it alive. It’s implying their support isn’t enough.
This isn’t a smart sales strategy. Customers don’t want to think their support or money isn’t enough. They want to feel important and valued. But hearing your complaints doesn’t do this.
It’s not up to our existing customers to fix the issues, either.
Businesses don’t tell their customers to spend more with them because other customers aren’t.
It’s not the customer’s fault to fix; it’s yours. Putting it back on the customer, implying they need to do something about it, is selfish behaviour. And it’s a bad marketing strategy.
Being real isn’t the issue
It’s not that you can’t be real. It doesn’t mean you can never say life is hard. We all know the struggles. And it also doesn’t mean you can’t ever show your personal life, only your business. Because we know these types of interactions also help build trust with your fanbase.
But this is one of those topics that doesn’t fall on the list of topics that go well with your fans and followers. Take a cue from the entrepreneurs who’ve paved our way here.
Because this type of marketing doesn’t sell.
You’ve freakin’ got this!
This journey isn’t the same without you. And I sure know you can’t find success without support, somewhere to vent, and people just like you. Join me here on The Frolics as we grow our careers together!
Ok, so this isn't enough for you?! Damn, I love your style! You can reach me and get more right here 👇