You’re great and people deserve to know

stand up

Lessons from Pilar Barrio. Part of the Business Growth Hacking series, this article is a reflection on digital marketing with special focus on social media and content, and how startups and smaller brands can get ahead of the competition. 

You want to grow your business, but do not have endless piles of cash. Or, perhaps, you want to keep your job, get that promotion, that pay rise, impress your boss… so you need to show results.

So, what do you do? 

You build a website, set up some profiles on Facebook and Instagram, start posting updates and maybe you try running some ads on Google and Facebook. You increase your followers on Instagram, maybe you use a bot to help you out, you get some likes, some visits to your site… BUT YOU AREN’T SELLING.

Before I explain, let me be candid with you.

I’ll tell you a story.

I have worked in marketing and communications for over 14 years and I’ve lived through the social media explosion.

When I started running campaigns for clients on platforms like YouTube, Facebook or Twitter, it was great. We could get amazing results organically. It was all about having amazing content that creates engagement. Then, the network effect does the rest. Likes, comments, shares, turn into reaching more people… We posted regularly, tested new things and managed to achieve millions of views for our videos and build a YouTube channel that became one of the most popular in the UK.

These same platforms (tools) were now available to ANY BUSINESS OF ANY SIZE.

If you knew how to use them, if you were posting good content, if you were replying to comments and engaging with people in a genuine way; then no matter your size, you could achieve great things. Also, if you had spent time and effort in building your community and your audience on those platforms, you could start benefiting from talking and selling to them. As if you were investing in building and nurturing a customer database.

Those where the good times.

But soon, we noticed our content’s reach and engagement decrease as platforms like Facebook changed their algorithms.

We were reaching saturation and were being forced to rely more and more on promoting our posts and running ads, to reach not just new audiences but our own fans and followers.

So having big advertising budgets mattered again. The brands that could spend the most to create and promoting their messages would win. You could have a community on Facebook with a million followers, but you couldn’t reach them unless you invested in advertising. Soon, many agencies started recommending to their clients that they should boost every single publication in order to reach anyone. Others recommended publishing content several times a day.

And I am talking about the big brands that could afford to pay for a social media team, copywriters, creative directors, photographers, video editors, campaign managers, influencer partnerships and thousands of pounds/dollars/euros on YouTube ads, Facebook ads, Twitter ads, etc.

So what about the smaller guys?

What about those entrepreneurs, small teams at startups and clever junior marketeers who used to ‘do their magic’ on social media. They started not achieving their targets, not reaching enough people, not getting much engagement for their content. They didn’t have big advertising budgets to spare. They were posting by day, researching by night, trying to find that golden formula again.


They are working harder, being paid less and becoming more dissatisfied.

Marketing has gone full circle. We’re now back where we started. Advertising is a money game again. A private club only open to those who can pay the fees.

But, most importantly, it’s becoming a lazy game. A game where, as a general rule, businesses will promote their content to a target audience, whatever its quality. It’s about getting THEIR message out there.

It’s also extremely frustrating and tiring.

And I see it. Many have lost the spark in their eyes – the thing that made us excited during the social media revolution.

So what can startups, clever entrepreneurs, small marketing teams do to get ahead?

How can they reach and connect with their potential customers?

How can they grow their businesses?

How can they sell more?

How can you do it?

Read my next article in this Business Growth Hacking series, where I share the six key principles that I have learnt to make your content connect with people in social media.