How to market your vegan business without using social media
If you want to market your vegan business online without using social media, then you’re in the right place. This blog will look at some of the alternative options to using social media to market a vegan business. So if you feel that the social media giants don’t align with your values, feel burnt out by it all, or simply don’t see the return on investment — read on.
Online marketing for vegan businesses without social media
One of the problems with social media is that it’s heralded as the only option for online marketing. When, in fact, social media is a tool in a bigger online marketing kit that you can choose whether or not to use.
Social media is great at levelling the playing field. For many, without Instagram and Facebook, they would not have a business. They could not afford traditional advertising or marketing channels. So if you need to take a positive view of social media, make it that it has opened up the world of business ownership to people who may not otherwise have launched.
Yet, there are several reasons why a business may want to actively avoid social media:
- The values of the big tech companies are not aligned with their business values
- They have experienced burnout
- They use social media and do not see a return on investment
- It takes up too much time.
I’m going to dig into each of these and the options you have available. Then I’ll take a look at some other avenues you can use instead of social media. Or if you want, add these to your current toolkit so that you have options.
Brands banishing social media
Lush have refused to use certain social media platforms to raise awareness about the negative impact on mental health. In its press release last year it said:
“We feel forced to take our own action to shield our customers from the harm and manipulation they may experience whilst trying to connect with us on social media.”
Likewise, Patagonia has not advertised on Facebook since 2020 and have increased their efforts to boycott the platform saying:
“Patagonia stopped all paid advertising on Facebook platforms in June 2020 because they spread hate speech and misinformation about climate change and our democracy. We continue to stand by that boycott 16 months later.”
While these brands have not stopped all use of social media, they do show that social media marketing is not always critical to building a brand and creating sales.
Big tech values
As you can see from these two examples, aligning your marketing with your brand values comes with difficult choices. There is an argument for this being a positive messaging move if their customers carry the same values.
As surprising as it may seem at times, not everyone is on social media. Yes, a lot of people are on multiple platforms but they are not glued to their screens all day long. They are exposed to messaging throughout the day from plenty of other places.
On average, a person will spend 153 minutes a day on social media. Some will spend more and others less. If you have an iPhone you can track this data to see how much time you spend looking at your phone and how you spend that time. It can be eye-opening. Likewise, the latest iOS updates have made targeted marketing on social media far more difficult.
This means we need to get creative with how we reach people that do not rely on using huge amounts of personal data to influence behaviour. In fact, depending on your audience, you may actually get a greater return on investment if you take a stand to not use social media. You are showing that you understand and align with your customers’ values.
But what if that isn’t your audience?
Should you still consider your social media marketing use? I would say to look to other areas where there are online communities and be smart about how you can leverage them.
For example, building relationships and collaborating with businesses who have the same audience as you can be incredibly valuable — especially when they are not in competition. It helps you amplify your message and go straight to the people who care.
You see, social media is only one tool in the marketing kit. It’s not everything. If you think back to what you’ve bought over the past year, tot up how much of it you first saw on social media. Or how much you were tipped over into purchasing as a result of a social media post. That should tell you how much you need social media.
Yes, social media will help you reach more people but so will other marketing avenues.
Building a presence on social media takes time. Part of this is our human desire to be part of the pack and be liked. It’s a human desire for safety. Look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. We will prioritise our need to feel safe — which we do as part of a group.
When we apply this to social media, our need for big followings and lots of likes serves to satisfy this very basic need. We are part of something bigger than ourselves and we feel wanted.
Yet, this need does not always bring about clients for our business. We confuse our need for reassurance with what our potential customers want to buy from us. It leads to our following ideas such as: “posting every day will get you more engagement”.
It means we confuse consistent with constantly
I want to make clear here that if you are online all day, every day then there is a chance that playing this numbers game will get you some sales. It will see results. But at what expense?
There is a time cost, emotional cost and an energy cost to doing it this way. One of the biggest mistakes I see with content marketing is a small business not tracking how long they are spending on it when doing it themselves. This means you cannot track a return on your investment. And I go into this in more detail in a moment.
You may well get some sales from being permanently online but what else are you losing?
It is this behaviour that will lead to burnout. Instead, it is better to have a content marketing strategy that looks at how you take someone from point a (not knowing you) to point b (buying from you repeatedly) and create content specifically for these steps.
That content does not need to be social media. You can get someone onto your website, onto your mailing list and build a relationship with them without them ever seeing your social media posts.
No return on investment
One of the problems with social media as the main marketing force behind your online strategy is that it’s too easy to DIY-it. Now, I like that businesses can DIY this but here is what I did when I first started a product business back in 2014.
I spent hours photographing products. Then I pushed them out on Instagram. Hours more were spent on building my community there. More hours on getting them to sign up to my mailing list. I tried, tested, tweaked and tried again.
What I didn’t do what track all my time. Because that’s free, right? But if I don’t know how many hours of my time I need to invest to get ONE CUSTOMER — how can I know if that sale is truly worth all the effort?
These days, I know how much of my personal costs go into acquiring a client. I then understand how much work I really need to do to apply a marketing budget to that sale. This then becomes a reliable pattern. And a pattern that I can apply for my clients so they know what return they are getting from any content marketing campaign.
If I spend X hours on this then I can expect £X sales as a result.
If you cannot hand on heart say that you are investing £X in social media and seeing £X sales, then now is the time to start looking. Your customers may not be coming from social media. They may be coming from elsewhere. If you are not tracking this information, how will you know?
If you are looking to market your vegan business without using social media — this is probably the best place to start. To understand where your marketing spend is best placed for sales right now before testing what could work in future.
Social Media Takes Up Time
When I work with clients who don’t want to use social media, I let them know that it will take time to see results. SEO takes time. Testing and tweaking content strategy takes time to get it spot on. But it’s a different kind of taking time.
When you know you are building high-quality content for your future customer then you need less of it because the trust will be built by other systems in place.
There is a world of what I call “hidden content”. This is not the gated content where you need to hand over your email address, it’s the kind of content that you only see when you take action or make a small commitment. It’s not the stuff that appears in the search engines, it’s the special, precious content that builds the trust.
Content cannot solve all the problems
Whatever you decided to use to market your vegan business without using social media, it will only ever be as good as your product, positioning and price.
You could have the best content marketing strategy possible, but if no one wants or needs your product, it will not sell. And I think this is where people think social media is the magic answer for them. They look at what others do, think it looks easy but forget to do that initial market research to understand if what they are selling, people actually need.
I’ve done this myself. I’ve said the words: “if only I had more time and money I know this will be a success.” But the truth is, that time and money will only amplify what is put at the foundations of your business.
How to market your vegan business without social media
I’m cautious about giving out generic advice online. There is too much of that already. I can give you a huge list of things you can do without social media to market your vegan business online. Will they work for you? I cannot say without looking at your analytics, understanding your goals and what resources you have available.
If you want to make your business stable and sustainable ask yourself this: what would I do if I woke up tomorrow and my social media channels were removed from me? How would I find customers?
If you cannot answer this question, start building the foundations now because, at any moment, social media platforms can shift the goalposts, change the rules and even kick you off. You need a better plan than relying on social media.