Can You Sell on Social Media Without an Audience?

Don’t give up because you don’t grow — you might not have to

Charles Tumiotto Jackson
Jan 31 · 5 min read
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Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Have you been trying to build an audience for your brand or product on Instagram and Facebook but have failed? Do you find that you’re spending way too much time trying to grow and not enough time trying to figure out what to sell and how to sell it? Then maybe you need to change your approach to social media.

Growing on social media is hard, and it takes a very long time to gather some fans together that will engage with you and your brand both on a regular basis and in the long run. If you’ve tried it but failed, or if you’re building a business and are wondering if creating an Instagram account is even worth it, then this article is for you.

Is Growing an Audience Worth It?

“Audience first, product second” is what you’ll keep hearing nowadays. And I agree with that statement to some extent. You need to figure out who your audience is in order to sell a product to them. And you need to have a large enough audience to make sure that you’re going to sell enough of your product.

But that doesn’t mean that you should be the one building the audience.

If you’ve tried it, then you know that building an audience is hard and takes a long time. Of course, you can complain about how it was easier years ago and how nowadays, because of the way social media is monetized, it’s almost impossible to build a brand and an audience without having a massive advertising budget.

While growing and building an audience is still possible, it’s now a lot more technical than it was. That’s why building an audience today is a full-time job. Call them influencers, content marketers, or whatever else. Some people are just good at it and love doing it.

On the other hand, you have people trying to build communities with a lot less talent, less skill, and definitely less involvement in their community-building process. And that’s fine — you shouldn’t be an expert in everything that you do. The problem, however, is that if you’re in this category, you’re competing with the influencers. Needless to say, considering the strong and rising competition on Instagram, it will be a long road, and you might in fact never make it.

Do You Need to Build Your Own Audience?

If you want to run a company with very strong branding and a big catalog of products, then yes, you will need to build your own audience. However, building an audience for a single product or a service isn’t always necessary.

But in both cases, using other people’s audiences can be fantastic leverage to grow and test out the market.

If you’re still unsure about your product or service, don’t build an audience just yet. Instead, try to sell your product(s) to an existing audience that might be interested in your goods or service. If they’re interested and if they buy it, building your own audience might be worth it. If not, you should either move to a different product or try selling it to a different audience.

Using other people’s audience is usually referred to as influencer marketing, which is a term I dislike since you don’t necessarily need to go through influencers to make such strategies happen.

Using Other People’s Audience

Don’t limit yourself to influencers. There are tons of other audiences that you can try, most of the time for cheaper and a lot less effort regarding the content creation.

There are two types of popular accounts on Instagram: influencers and theme pages (often called niche pages). Influencers are usually accounts run by individuals who get quite personal about their content. Theme pages, however, are pages that curate content in a certain niche. Unlike influencers, their personal brand is not documented nor branded on their profiles, which means that they’re a lot less picky about the content that you want to publish on their account. They’re also usually cheaper for the same amount of followers.

After browsing through hashtags and similar accounts, come up with a list of pages with at least 20,000 followers and start sending them direct messages about paid posts. Most of them will have an offer for a 24-hour post and a link in their bio, and sometimes they’ll sell stories with a link in the “swipe up” feature.

These offers are usually pretty cheap considering the large audience these accounts have, and the reach and engagement that your post will get on their page is usually enough to sell products, get sign-ups on your mailing list, and eventually grow your account if you do have one.

Do Things in the Right Order

It’s very tempting to start building an audience even before you have a product. In fact, that’s what people usually advise you to do. But the problem is that building an audience takes a long time — a lot more than it used to. Trying to sell your products to an existing audience before you start trying to build yours is the right way to do it. This will save you some time, and you’ll figure out straight away if your product sells and if your audience is responsive to your offer.

When it comes to influencer marketing, keep in mind that it’s not only about influencers, and sometimes, theme pages (and niche pages) are cheaper alternatives that are as efficient as influencers.

The key is to get started. Don’t let the building of an audience overwhelm you and keep you from trying out a new idea. Start marketing this idea on an existing audience. If it works out, then either continue with the same strategy or try to build your own audience. If it doesn’t work out, either try to come up with better content, better copy, a different audience, or a different product. But keep on trying!

Do you feel like you tried everything to grow on social media and especially Instagram? Hopefully, what follows will be the last thing you will have to do to reach your goals.

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Charles Tumiotto Jackson

Written by

Content Marketer, willing to put the “social” back in Social Media. Let's talk about Social Media Marketing →

Better Marketing

Marketing advice and case studies to help you market ethically, authentically, and effectively.

Charles Tumiotto Jackson

Written by

Content Marketer, willing to put the “social” back in Social Media. Let's talk about Social Media Marketing →

Better Marketing

Marketing advice and case studies to help you market ethically, authentically, and effectively.

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