ONE of the biggest mistakes I see people making in service businesses today is assuming their popularity is greater than it actually is.

People look at the numbers on their social channels and hugely overestimate the loyalty of people who clicked ‘like’ or ‘follow’ on a whim.

I see it most with coaches, therapists and those with ambitions to be seen as ‘thought leaders’.

Let me lay out a few quick pointers here… if ANY of these ring a bell for you, however uncomfortable that might feel, you need to keep reading, okay? I might not be pulling any punches here, but I am writing this to help you.

Do we have a deal? Awesome.

Buckle up… here we go:

  1. If you have 800 people following your Facebook page, it doesn’t mean you can sell 100 tickets to a live event. They’re not all consuming your content, let alone waiting to spend time and money with you.
  2. If you’ve heard people saying Facebook groups are better than pages and started sharing your content only into your group, you are limiting your reach to the people in that group who bother to engage. There’s way more to it than this but, suffice to say, niching all your Facebook efforts into a group with only a few hundred people is a duff move.
  3. If you have 5,000 LinkedIn connections, it doesn’t mean they’ll be waiting for your next post to drop and leaping onto the comments. And let’s be clear here for a moment… you need people to be engaging with your LinkedIn posts in that first 60 minute window to stand any chance of your content being shown to a decent amount of potential clients.

Engagement on your content is a big clue — if nobody’s seeing, loving, commenting on or sharing your posts, you are shouting into a vacuum.

Engagement on your content is a big clue — if nobody’s seeing, loving, commenting on or sharing your posts, you are shouting into a vacuum.

Seriously… you might be dutifully pushing out those posts every day — perhaps even several times a day — but you’re still effectively hiding in a secret bunker. And yes, You’re right — I added this paragraph just so I could justify that picture of Homer Simpson. It’s apt, though, right?

Sausage factory social

I see it all the time. People who push out glossy imagery and clever words every day, yet they only ever receive a handful of likes and a couple of comments.

They still keep doing it though.

Keep churning out the same celebrity-stylee content.

Keep running those events and underselling on ticket numbers.

Keep self-publishing their books and failing to achieve the sales.

Keep on creating those lead magnets nobody wants.

It’s like a social media sausage factory, except nobody’s buying your sausages!

They’re not even sniffing your sausages.

Your sausages are nowhere on anybody’s radar!

And, of course, the people behind the sausage factories just blame the algorithms. Or they’ll claim people don’t comment on their content because, you know, therapy, coaching, counselling… people don’t want to be seen to need help, so they just watch without engaging.

These people might say something like this: “Honestly… I know nobody comments on my posts, but I get loads of people messaging me privately. You just can’t see that. No, really! Genuinely! My client books are utterly, like, properly, really, jam packed. I hardly have time to go for a wee, I’m so in demand. You have NO IDEA how full my inbox is. Can you lend me a fiver?”

Crappiest, most flimsy and transparent excuse since Crappy The Crap Clown sang Mr Cellophane on a flimsy stage in Excuseville.

Points for effort, though. Even more points for being so hemmed in by your fear of failure, or judgement, that you’re not willing to listen, learn and make a few tweaks to your approach, and content, that could make all the difference to your business and bottom line.

Brace yourselves… you might not like what I’m about to say

You ready?

It’s not the algorithm.

It’s not because people are scared to be seen engaging with your content.

It’s YOU!

It’s not because you’re a bad person — I’m sure you’re perfectly lovely and brilliant at whatever it is you do.

It’s because you’re either not putting the effort into supporting other people online (being interested in others more than being interested in yourself), or you’re trying to sell at the end of every post, or your content isn’t aligned to the truth of who you are, or you’re trying to fake celebrity status.

If you’ve bought into that old fake it ’til you make it scenario, that ain’t gonna work for you.

If you’ve bought into that old fake it ’til you make it scenario, that ain’t gonna work for you.

You can’t really fake your popularity unless you start hiring people to comment on your content and hit those like buttons… and that’s a baaaaad idea, for many reasons.

Stop trying to skip ahead

The problem with all these scenarios? People are trying to skip the steps.

You can’t just create jazzy posts, refer back those past PR wins, share a few testimonials and expect to be the next Brene Brown.

You can’t even expect overnight success if you bag a TEDx talk — they don’t automatically equate to millions of eyeballs. Hell, I’ve done THREE now and none of them have gone anywhere near viral just yet.

Here’s another secret about ‘successful’ TEDx talks… a lot of those speakers attracting masses of eyeballs have paid someone to market them or paid people in far flung countries to click on their video and watch the required amount of seconds to tick the YouTube box. It’s not always because TED has selected them for outstanding content. More often than not, it’s because they’ve splashed some cash to create vanity metrics.

TED talks. Magazine mentions. Positive news coverage. TV appearances. Writing books. They’re all amazing for credibility, but none of them will result in instant business success.

They’re rungs on the ladder, for sure, and they can be brilliant for your personal brand, but they rarely result in overnight demand and invites to appear on Super Soul Sunday or The Ellen Show.

It doesn’t work that way.

See, it’s not all about YOU.

You need people — real people — not hollow numbers.

You need genuine, consistent engagement on your content.

And that means you need to put the effort in.

You can’t just post and run. You need support. You need real fans more than followers. You need advocates.

And that all starts with a two-way street.

Content, caring AND community

It’s not just about content creation and harping back to your five minutes of fame in 1998.

It’s about community and caring — and keeping a consistent level of visibility and two-way engagement in 2020 and beyond.

You want people to engage with your content? Start engaging with theirs.

You want people to be interested in you? Start being interested in them.

You want people to engage with your content? Start engaging with theirs.

You want people to be interested in you? Start being interested in them.

You don’t have time for all that social media engagement and supporting other people’s posts nonsense?

That’s a big, fat, fib.

You’re hardly snowed under having to reply to all the comments on your own posts, are you?

If you were already hugely successful in your niche, chances are people would have found you online anyway AND they might just be hanging onto your every word.

And even if you can address those points… if you genuinely cared about your audience, you’d find the time.

If you can’t find the time, that’s another indicator that the person you really care about pleasing is YOU.

And that’s okay. Just stop pretending you’re all about the people if it’s not true.

Tribe building and engagement

It’s not that hard to show an interest in other people.

You don’t need to spend all day online.

But, if you’re serious about growing your following, building on your personal brand and upscaling your business and income, you do need to set aside 1–2 hours a day for social tribe building and engagement.

Can’t manage every day? Three times a week, then, at the very least.

The long and short of it?

You can’t have a party without people.

Stop running one-person soirées and focus on building your audience.

Get your priorities sorted out.

Serve first. Sell later.

Until next time,




Taz Thornton is the author of Awesome Sauce — a free, weekly positive life and business round-up, with good news stories, positivity tips and visibility hacks for your brand. In a few minutes each week, you get a dose of optimism and some awesome advice to get seen and stay happy.

Taz is a best-selling author, inspirational business speaker and multiple TEDx speaker, consultant on confidence, personal brand and visibility, and an award-winning coach (UK’s Best Female Coach 2018 — Best Business Woman Awards). She is also the creator of the #UnleashYourAwesome and #BrandMastery personal and business development programmes, as well as #UNLEASHED — an affordable confidence, content and cashflow building programme for coaches, healers and therapists, and #LIFEFORCE — an affordable online spiritual empowerment and coaching programme for people wanting to bring more optimism into their lives.

Taz has been featured on BBC, ITV, in HuffPost, Diva, The Daily Mail and countless other newspapers, magazines and podcasts. Taz is also a regular columnist for the America Out Loud talkshow network. In 2019, she was named as one of the most inspirational businesswomen in the UK and, in 2020, she was named as one of the world’s top 50 women in marketing to follow.

Find her on FacebookLinkedInTwitter and Insta.