How to Use Social Media to Market Your Speaking Business

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Social media is a part of everyday life and a powerful business tool. But how can you use social media to market your speaking business? The Speaker Lab podcast hosted acclaimed speaker, author and expert Jon Acuff on episode 167 to address just that.

Jon is an experienced public speaker and best-selling author. He shared his strategies to use social media to reach more people and grow his business, as well as useful tips on how to properly use your chosen social media platform.

Want to know the fastest way to get feedback, how to avoid complacency, and how to use soft pitches to secure more gigs?  Ready to learn how to use social media to market your speaking business? Read on!

Strategies for your talk

Name drop companies or industries in your talk

Before you go posting about your talk, the first step to learning how to use social media to market your speaking business is to consider your strategy for the talk and what to post about. On the Speaker Lab Podcast, Jon Acuff delineated some tips for the talk itself.

“There’s a couple ways you do it,” Acuff said. For example, “you do it by referencing other companies. It doesn’t hurt to tell a story where you say, ‘I told the guys at Whirlpool the other day about their product division.'” This reminds the audience, “‘Oh, we have a product division,’ and you establish authority.”

Another way is through promotion of a book or other materials you have for sale. Acuff mentioned that if he has a company “buy 5,000 copies of my book, you better believe when I’m in front of another company, I [say], we’ve had companies buy 5,000 copies.” This puts managers in the position of thinking they should do the same.

That said, “you’ve gotta balance it,” Acuff emphasized. “They didn’t ask you to sell yourself, they asked you to serve the audience. So you have to be super deliberate. Because I’ve seen people where it’s like, 90% pitch, and there was no value. It feels gross and it feels gross and the client knows that. You kind of have to feel it out.”

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Social media strategies

Name drop companies or industries on social media

Acuff said he was shocked by how often a client will say they have been following him on Instagram, even though they hadn’t booked him yet. He said he constantly reminds speakers not to complain about traveling on social media, as clients are parents themselves and may feel guilty for booking someone away from their family. If you have a successful speaking business, more people will follow you than you know, and keeping it positive will be more helpful for your speaking business.

“You’ll often see me like when I go speak for a client, you’ll see me post after on Twitter, Instagram, whatever.” Acuff said. If he posts, “Had a great time with the Florida area real estate agents! I love talking to real estate agents. They’ve got such an interesting job” on Instagram, Acuff said, “that’s me doing a soft pitch to other real estate places to go, oh, I didn’t know you did that.”

Acuff went on to reflect that in order to find event planners, LinkedIn is a more effective platform than Facebook as it is more specialized. He then discussed his use of Instagram, citing an example where someone got in touch with him after following his account for a while. Instagram content, Acuff said, can help you to move a maybe to a yes and allows people to connect with you, though it isn’t a guarantee in and of itself.

Finding balance

On social media, it’s tempting to want to look perfect all of the time, even at the expense of authenticity. However, for event planners looking for speakers, it’s important to show personality in order to stand out. This way, the decision-makers can build a connection with the speaker and a level of trust that can move a maybe to a yes.

“The polished [profile] makes you seem fake,” Acuff said. “I think that the real one does better, especially this generation. The more the millennials grow up, the more…they can see through fakeness.”

That said, keep in mind that if you want to book a corporate gig, you should be mindful of how you talk about specific corporations online and on social media in particular. Companies, especially large ones, tend to pay attention to what people are saying about them online and they may not be interested in working with someone who has badmouthed them or their products in the past. So, be careful about what you post about corporate entities – even if you have good intentions – as it could ultimately cost you a valuable booking.

As Acuff put it: “If you wanna do a big gig at Microsoft someday, don’t be a jerk about Microsoft. If you wanna do a big gig at Chrysler, like don’t slam Chrysler. I think you have to be smart about that.”

Integrating social accounts

Integrating your professional social media accounts can help you build your online presence, increase your visibility, and boost your credibility and trustworthiness. Additionally, it helps you to access a wider audience and gain more exposure for your business or personal brand.

By connecting with more people, you can create a platform for feedback and gaining insights that can help you to improve and grow.

Acuff described his own strategy as increasing his opportunities for networking and collaboration. “One thing I try to do is I try to connect them to each other,” Acuff said. “I’ve probably 10 times this year, 15 times this year at 6:00AM tweeted out, ‘If you’re up this early already working on something, we need to be connected on LinkedIn’ and then there’s a link.”

Acuff went on, “I look at it as, if you’re in my sphere of conversation and you’re on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, awesome. Like, now you’re connected to me in three ways…The final one is to try to get somebody on an email list and create good enough content that they, they feel excited about it.”

Once you have those leads in your email list or on your social feeds, continuously reaching out to potential leads and following up on leads from a few years ago is essential in order to build relationships. You should have a goal and metric to measure our progress, as this is essential for you to continue putting in the effort.

Generate new content regularly

Oftentimes, speakers treat talks in a similar way that bands would treat a new album. You have your new talk, you promote that and you go on tour to deliver it. You still may do some of the old bits, but you primarily focus on the new. Yet, if you don’t come out with a new talk every two to three years, you start to lose relevance quickly.

Another similar model is with books. If you are a successful author, you are often obligated to keep coming out with new material in order to stay relevant. People who don’t come out with new books often fall off the map. The same is true for speakers, who often have to come out with new talks in order to stay top of mind. If a speaker goes too long without a new talk, their audience will move on. As a result, it’s important for speakers to stay on top of their game and keep introducing new talks.

Acuff said that by writing new books, it keeps him engaged. “I don’t want to talk about the same thing for 30 years,” he said. He went on to say that the new books allow him to explore new interests, while at the same time allowing him to stay connected with his audience.

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So you’ve now learned how to use social media to market your speaking business. Now, the best way to put what you’ve learned into action is to create a plan for your speaking business that includes a variety of platforms. With an effective plan in place, you’ll be sure to engage your audience and draw them in with your speaking business. Want to go deeper? Check out the full podcast with Jon Acuff here, where he also discusses his unorthodox method of learning from comedians when it comes to speaking, setting goals and achieving the desired result, and more.

Still want more? Grant Baldwin and Neen James had a live stream about how to diversify your speaking income, and covered issues such as the impact of COVID-19 versus the 2008 recession, how uncertainty presents a unique challenge, and how to keep your head in the right space. They also explored the contrast between a services and sales mindset, defaulting to positivity and generosity, and the difference between making money during a crisis compared to from a crisis. Check that resource out here.

Depending on the type of speaking business you are starting, you may need to look for different types of resources. You can start by checking out our blog post on how to find paid speaking opportunities in any industry. Happy speaking!


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