This is episode 300!! Oh my goodness, I cannot believe we’ve made it to 300 episodes. As a special longer-form podcast for episode number 300, I want to share with you eight lessons from the eight months I have had ad-free in my business.
As some of you may know, in July 2021, I came to Australia from New Zealand for a surgery.
For eight months, I was in an extended recovery period, my business was on hold, and I didn’t run any strategic Facebook ads in my business for that eight-month period. I was completely ad-free.
In this episode, I’m going to unpack for you the lessons that I learned from having eight months ad-free in my business, so that you can use these lessons to look after your organic and paid reach on social media, and really focus on how you grow your audience, grow your reach, and continue scaling up your business.
If you’re interested in hearing these lessons and how you can apply them to your business, then this is going to be a super helpful episode for you.
Let’s dive on in…
Just to quickly recap, I came to Australia in July of 2021. At that point in time, I had planned to take a two-month leave of absence from my business to allow myself time to recover from a surgery.
Unfortunately, that surgery and my subsequent recovery did not go to plan. I ended up having three surgeries in the space of nine weeks.
My recovery from those three surgeries was extended into the early weeks of 2022.
It’s now February 2022, and I still have not brought back consistent ads into my business. I’m currently re-emerging in my business, and just starting to build up some more momentum and build up the hours that I’m working in my business, as well as what I feel comfortable with advertising and marketing.
Over these eight months, I’ve learned quite a few really big lessons about:
- Organic reach on Facebook
- Paid reach on Facebook
- My ad strategies
- Audience growth whilst trying to maintain the audience I have without being particularly active in my business
When I first planned to take time off for these surgeries, I never expected that my recovery would take as long as it did.
I was prepared for my recovery to be a month or so longer than expected, but I was not prepared for it to be this extended period of absence from my business.
There were some weeks in my business where even an hour or two for the entire week was beyond what I was able to do in terms of hours, time and energy.
I was zapped of my energy.
My recovery was very big, emotional and draining.
I was going through a huge detoxing period, so it was a really tough time for me to feel so separated from my business.
It has taken me time and focus to get back into the swing of things. I would even say now that I’m not fully back in my business.
Another factor into why I went ad-free in my business was because my Facebook Ads Manager, the fabulous Georgia, had a baby and went on maternity leave.
We had already planned to go ad-free in July when I went for my surgery and she went on maternity leave, so we decided that until she was fully back from maternity leave and I was fully back from my surgeries, we would just put a pause on all Facebook advertising at that point in time.
With that extended period off, we still haven’t restarted our ads.
I may not even go back to having a full-time ads manager looking after my ads for me and my business.
At this point in time, I’m working on rebuilding what I do organically, and getting all of that working in my business like clockwork. I know that there’s so much untapped potential in my organic reach and organic strategies enough as it is, without then needing to put the extra complexity of adding paid reach into my business.
Here are my eight big lessons from this extended period of time ad-free, how they might apply to your business and what I’m going to be doing as a result…
1. Organic reach on Facebook and Instagram is by no means dead…
BUT it’s also not scalable enough to grow my audience significantly at the pace with which I want to grow my audience.
Organic reach is not dead whatsoever. I have around 8,000 followers on Facebook now, and in February 2022, I am seeing that the average reach of my posts on my Facebook page has now gone beyond 1,300 people per post.
Back at this time last year, my organic reach on my Facebook page would have been 300 to 800 reach per post, which at the time was still very high percentage-wise compared to what other people were saying they were getting.
The one thing I have maintained (regardless of whether I’ve been in the business or not been in the business, doing ads or being ad-free), is that I am very consistent with posting on my Facebook page.
That organic reach has benefited from my consistency.
A lot of people say that Facebook reach is dead, engagement is down, and no one engages on Facebook anymore.
I think that we need to stop, take stock, and stop blaming the Facebook/Instagram algorithm for the fact that people don’t engage with your content.
It’s not Facebook’s fault that your audience isn’t finding your content engaging.
Let’s say you’ve got 500 followers, and your content has been shown to 20 of them. The 20 that it’s been shown to are your most engaged audience. If none of those 20 people finds that content engaging, that’s not the algorithm’s fault.
I think a lot of people have spent a lot of time trying to convince us that organic reach is dead. Facebook has been part of that with some of the tactics and strategies that they’ve used to get us to engage in buying Facebook ads… but especially in 2022, I am seeing more and more feedback from other business page managers and from other business owners that their organic reach is seeing a consistent uplift.
Particularly for those people who have maintained their consistent presence and consistent creation of content on Facebook, they are still seeing an increase in reach on Facebook.
Organic reach isn’t dead. BUT it also isn’t enough, particularly for me as I have big goals for how much I want to be growing my audience over the next few months of the year and beyond.
Whilst I can still achieve amazing organic reach with my posts on Facebook and other social media platforms, it’s not reliable and predictable enough in terms of the audience growth that I want to achieve so that I can achieve my income goal for the year.
It’s definitely not dead, but it’s not enough on its own if you’ve got big audience growth goals.
If your audience growth goals are to get 100 people on your list each month, organic reach is more than enough by using strategies where you are:
- Building your organic reach yourself
- Borrowing from other people’s audiences by being in Facebook groups
- Doing joint posts and using the algorithm in your favour
There’s plenty of space for organic reach to create that consistent growth of audience – especially when you’re in the early stages of business.
2. Your mailing list is critical
I know that you hear this from me all the time, but I want to reiterate it because even though most online business owners that I work with and see in the online space, speak the language and talk the talk, 90% of them don’t walk the walk.
I would say that 90% of the people that I talk to in my programs and free challenges, understand that they need to grow their list, but they are not taking consistent action every day to do it.
They are not working on automated or evergreen strategies to grow their list. They are not consistently looking at what works to recruit people from social media to their list, and nailing and scaling those strategies.
They’re just not walking the walk.
More than ever, this extended period of time ad-free has demonstrated to me how critical growing your list is, because it’s part of the organic, self-fulfilling reach development strategy that you could use to create that organic reach growth.
One of the reasons why my organic reach consistently grows so well and nurtures my reach so effectively is because I recruit people from social media to my list, and then I have my list go back to my social media.
It is part of the ecosystem.
I don’t just recruit people from social media to my list, then keep them on my list, hold them there and never speak to them anywhere else again.
I’m consistently directing my list back to engaging with me on social media, because their engagement begets more engagement, begets more reach and grows that audience.
If I have a mailing list of 10,000 people, and that’s the only place where I’m communicating with my audience, then that list cannot grow organically. That list can only shrink, because there’s nowhere that that list is getting any other fresh people coming into it.
Your list and list growth are critical.
Your list growing your reach on social media, and your reach on social media growing your list, creates this amazing virtuous cycle and is a critical part of your marketing strategy.
If you aren’t consistently inviting your list to engage with content that you’ve shared on social media, or don’t have ways that people on your list can come and get something more from you on social media, then you’re missing out on part of that virtuous cycle.
That’s going to be costing you that growth of engagement and reach on social media.
Not only that, but it’s also then costing you having that asset of growing your list.
They feed each other and both are critical to each other’s survival and each other’s consistent growth.
3. My page reach renewed far quicker than my group reach
After my extended leave of absence from my business, my reach on my Facebook page grew back to what it used to be very quickly.
My reach within my own Facebook group of 35,000 people – the group that I have created, curated, lead, administered, paid for the administration of, and engaged with for over eight years – is still consistently lower than my reach on my Facebook page with just over 8,000 followers.
The audience in the group is bigger, and it’s a much more engaged space. There are hundreds of posts per day in that Facebook community. I get hundreds and hundreds of comments per week.
There is a far greater engagement-to-reach ratio in that group. If I get a reach of 100 in the Heart-Centred community, I will get 25 comments. If I get reach of 100 on my Facebook page, I’ll get one or two comments – and yet my reach within that group is still less than my reach on my page.
For now, growing your own free Facebook group, in particular, is not a viable scalable strategy.
If you have an existing group, I’m not saying that it’s a good idea to completely abandon that community. I go to that Facebook group as a member. I love that Facebook group for the things I learn, the people I connect with, and the networks that I make.
It’s a very peer-led shared leadership model.
I totally love and adore that. But if you think that starting your own Facebook group will solve the reach algorithm issues that you’re having with your Facebook page, I believe that that is not true.
The frustrating thing is that as the facilitator of the group – as the person who has created, nurtured and hosted that group for the last eight years – even I have no scalable way of reaching the members of that community.
Other than engaging in that community, posting consistently, pinning an announcement here and there, I have no way. I can’t pay for a Facebook ad and ensure that my most recent post gets in front of every group member.
But if I’ve done a post on my Facebook page, I absolutely can pay $50 and get that post in front of the majority of the people who follow my page.
Page reach not only renewed faster, but it is far more scalable.
If you’re thinking about creating a Facebook group to fix your reach issues, I don’t think that’s a smart strategy.
Some people say that if you grow a Facebook group, you’re getting in front of more people and you can actually reach more of them, I don’t think that’s true anymore. And if that group has died off and your reach within your own group is significantly reduced, it will take longer for you to renew and rebuild that reach than if you were rebuilding that reach on a page.
It sucks, but it’s true.
4. My reach increases faster in other people’s Facebook groups than it does in my own
I really don’t understand this one. It totally blows my mind that this is the case.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been way more consistent in other people’s Facebook groups. What I’ve found is that I am getting more engagement, more reach and more people coming over to my Facebook page from those groups than I’m getting from my own group.
This isn’t great news for me, because the largest group that I’m a member of is my own group, and it’s the one that I really struggled to get reach in… BUT it’s great news for you as a member of the Heart-Centred Soul-Driven Entrepreneurs community.
There are people in the Heart-Centred community who get reach of 2,000-3000 people with most of their posts in that group.
I’m not one of those people.
There are people who are getting more reach than I’m getting as the admin, facilitator and creator of that group!
It’s almost as though the bad news of the previous lesson – page reach is easier than group reach – is counteracted by the fact that you don’t have to grow your own group to get the reach that we used to get in groups. All you need to do is borrow my group.
If you jump into a community, such as the Heart-Centred community, you’re consistent in that group, you engage, comment on other people’s posts, get some engagement and create engaging content for that audience, your reach will grow faster than if you created the group yourself.
I think it’s actually really good news for you (it’s a little bit sucky for me).
5. Social media is social
People are on social media, first and foremost, to connect with other human beings.
I think this is something that’s very easy for us to forget as business owners.
We go onto social media to see what we can do in relation to building our business. But everyone’s there because they want to connect with humans. They want to find that social connection.
It’s a social network!
The more you can remind yourself that social media is social, and engage there socially in ways that people want to engage with, the more effective that social media strategy is going to be. But also, the more you enjoy the process.
If you’re on social media constantly just banging out content, dumping posts all over the place and getting frustrated that nothing’s working, then you’re going to find that process really draining.
Regardless of whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you love social media or you don’t love social media, if you create and curate a social media experience that is social, high connection and feels engaging for you, then:
1. You’re going to bring better energy into it and it’s going to work better
2. You’ll be far more magnetic
Remember that social media is social, and engage in it as a social channel.
6. You can still make sales when you’re ad-free
Those sales are more likely to be with your hottest audience.
I found that during a few months of my eight-month hiatus, I was behaving on a subconscious level as though I wasn’t going to make any sales because my business was ad-free.
That made a significant difference to the way that I engaged on social media.
I found myself needing to remind myself over and over again that that wasn’t the case. I really needed to remind myself of that and focus my sales and conversion-oriented strategies to be speaking to my hottest audience.
One of the things that I’m really proud of is that in January and February of this year, I have still made significant sales whilst being ad-free.
I haven’t run a launch yet, but the reason that it’s worked is because I’m speaking to my hottest audience. That’s where I’m going to get the best results in an organic strategy because those people are the people I can readily reach.
If I want to make sales to a colder audience, achieve the list growth and reach growth that I’ll need for that, I really do need to reengage in those ads. But that doesn’t mean sales aren’t available to me.
I can still make money, I can still make sales. I’ve proven that to myself by focusing on organic strategies with my hottest audience.
7. Stack your strategies – don’t abandon organic
Something that I see other people do (and I’ve definitely done myself) is that once they get into the scaling stage of business after being ad-free and using organic strategies to grow their reach and engagement on social media (strategies such as building and borrowing their audience), they completely abandon those organic strategies and instead only use Facebook ads.
Instead of systemising those things down and getting them working on autopilot as much as possible, they just abandon them.
I definitely didn’t do it this time, but I’ve done it before when I’ve started doing ads or have gone ad-free.
I’m really proud of myself for continuing to do the organic strategies that work so well for me, because what that means is that when I do add ads back into my strategies, those ads are going to be:
- More effective
- More cost-effective
- Snowballing and creating the results that I want much faster than if I completely abandoned my organic stuff every time I used ads
The beautiful thing about the last eight months ad-free has been that my organic strategies have been easy to fall back on, and have continued to do really well because I didn’t abandon them when I was hyper-focused on Facebook ads strategy.
When I was focused on Facebook ads strategy, my Facebook organic strategy continued to run, continued to nurture my hottest audience and show up with those consistent organic strategies.
That means that when I went ad-free, I wasn’t going back to zero. I was coming back to a proven organic strategy that continued to work.
Don’t abandon old strategies. Systemise them and stack them instead.
The more you ensure that your organic strategies and your borrow strategies continue on when you’re running ads, the faster you can scale up those ads as well.
Something that I found in the past when I’ve come back to ads from a period of being ad-free, is that it has taken a long time for me to be able to even get Facebook to take my money.
I’ve had to do the $5 a day ad for a few days, then the $7 a day ad, and so on. If I scale up any faster than that, Facebook doesn’t even take the money.
It does not scale up quickly enough.
Where I’ve kept the organic strategies working in the background, I can scale up a little faster.
I still can’t go from $0 to $1,000 a day in ad-spend (that is a mistake, that’s not a smart strategy), but because my organic strategies are working so effectively, I have found that I can start to scale up my ad strategy faster when my organic stuff has been maintained.
Stack your strategies, and remember that your ad strategy will take time to scale up. You’ll be able to do it faster, the more you get those organic strategies working on autopilot.
8. Ads will not fix bad messaging
It doesn’t matter how much budget you have. It doesn’t matter how great your ads manager is or how amazingly effective the copywriter is that you’ve hired…
If the foundations of your messaging – your niche and value proposition – are not effective, if they’re not resonant, you haven’t put the time and energy into refining them, then no amount of ads, sexy copywriting or budget will fix that problem.
You will always come back to needing to fix those foundations.
Ensure that you spend time nailing the foundations and really putting the time into developing a strong core message, your value proposition and a deep understanding of your niche so that your messaging can be deeply resonant and do its job.
The better your messaging, the cheaper the ads.
The better the messaging, the better the engagement. And the better the messaging, the better the organic reach.
It just creates so much more momentum for your business, and it’s a powerful foundation to invest time and energy into nailing.
Thank you so much for joining me for this episode of the Heart-Centered Business Podcast.
I cannot believe we’ve made it to 300 episodes! I look forward to what happens in the next 300 from here.
If you’ve found this episode particularly helpful and you would like to grow your audience, I have a free training for you.
It’s called Grow Your Audience.
You can access it for free at tashcorbin.com/audience.
If you’ve got a question that you’d like me to answer on a future podcast episode, make sure you go to tashcorbin.com/question and let me know what your question is (I’ll also give you a shoutout!).
If you’ve been loving this podcast episode about my ad-free experience and would like to help me celebrate 300 episodes of the Heart-Centred Business Podcast, please take a screenshot or a selfie of yourself listening to the podcast and tag me in it (@tashcorbin on Instagram).
I’d love to connect with you and hear what you thought of these ad-free lessons.
Thank you so much for reading this episode of the podcast. I really hope you enjoyed learning about my biggest lessons from being ad-free.
Until next time, I cannot WAIT to see you SHINE.