No More Conforming!

Three key marketing themes for 2024

This is Bye, Social Media!, a newsletter about how to build a successful solo business outside of social media.

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Hiya,

it feels nice to be back in your inbox.

In my first newsletter this year, I want to share with you what I feel are the dominant themes of the year in marketing (and life).

In this edition:

  • Marketing without social media asks you to become yourself

  • Micro-trends, groupthink, and social glue

  • Google and how marketing changes the face of the internet

Let’s get into it.

Marketing in 2024: Authenticity First

I feel opinionated today, so let’s kick off the newsletter in 2024 with some takes.

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1. Marketing Without Social Media Is a Journey to Yourself

Marketing without social media is more than just learning about marketing strategy and alternative channels. It’s a journey to yourself.

Marketing without social media asks you to embrace your uniqueness and who you are at your core.

I don’t write this newsletter, so you can buy into yet another formula for life and business. I ask of you that you think for yourself and begin making your own decisions.

To do what’s best for you and honor who you are, your strengths, and your interests, it’s necessary to step away from the supposed wisdom of the group and well-meaning friends and their inconsequential advice - at least mentally.

To do so, you need to find the courage to make up your own mind and follow your own, independent decisions.

Marketing without social media asks you to question the groupthink in online business and marketing and instead follow what you know to be most true for yourself. If you don’t like socials, they haven’t worked for you, or you think it’s gross to dance for the algorithm, the first step is to honor that and accept that this comes with consequences.

You cannot continue to do what everyone else is and expect for it to work, miraculously, when it hasn’t for a long time.

It is wiser and more healthy for you to embrace who you are and go with that than to continue to expand energy on conforming.

This journey isn’t for everyone. To go on it, you need to start being honest with yourself. It’s challenging, rewarding, and incredibly liberating.

The Fix: Where are you gaslighting yourself into doing something you don’t want to, because everyone else is?

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Have you heard that the mob wife aesthetic is in now? Two seconds ago, it was strawberry girl summer (or something like that), quiet luxury, and clean girl. 2/4 of these trends were sparked by Hailey Bieber and the other two by some other influencers.

I watched some videos on that last night* and was taken aback by the audacity with which people discuss these micro-trends. “We’re wearing leather and gold.” Who’s “WE”? Is that the royal we? Are they speaking for us all?

Social media and what we expose ourselves to on the internet has a powerful conditioning influence. We become what we feed our minds with.

On the internet, we’re never fully in control of what we see and read. Most of us [yes, WE] live in tight epistemic bunkers that are created not only by our own mental habits but the power of algorithmic choices in what we see.

This creates a really, really boring internet to navigate. Everything has the same cognitive and visual patterns. Content is created in cascades of bullshit copying from one another. I miss when the internet used to be inspiring.

These TikTok trends, for example, emerge also, because users jump on an emerging topic hoping to become viral and growing their following. The first videos are fun and refreshing. When you look at the 15th one with the same song or doing yet another green screened take on it that’s not even room temperature, anymore, it’s not charming, anymore.

We’ve become so used to this. And yet, the mechanism underneath it is an insult to our creativity and ability to self-express.

You do not stand out like that or create a sustainable brand in the long term.

The Fix: Where are you copying others? Do you have an idea you’ve suppressed in the past, because you thought it’s weird?

*On my browser. I wouldn’t touch TikTok with a 1-mile pole.

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3. Marketing Shapes Our Experience of the Internet

Much of the internet is marketing content, as content and inbound marketing has taken over as the M.O. of promotion online.

Remember: this used to not be the norm. While inbound marketing had been around since the 19th century, it really took off in the digital age in the late aughts. You can learn more about this in this opinion piece on Hubspot’s role in the explosion of inbound marketing or the book “Disrupted” that chronicles a journalist’s journey into the underbelly of digital marketing and startups during his time at Hubspot.

Google influences the architecture of the internet and websites like no other. The company controls 90 percent of the search market. If you want people to find you, you have to play to Google.

Together with social media, tech companies shape our experience of the internet, communication, and marketing.

What I described above under 1) and 2) is a direct consequence of that. It’s very challenging to move beyond those confines. Believe me, I’ve tried, and had to acknowledge that for now, I needed to learn how to do SEO on my websites.

I’m deeply uneasy about how tech companies affect and design our experience of the internet. I often wonder, whether the CEOs behind them get a kick out of dominating, digitally governing billions of people. I find it repulsive and will never tire of making people aware of the fact that is neither normal nor healthy.

You and I are moving on the playing field of these companies to a greater or lesser extent. At the same time, I want to encourage you to dare to think about your agency. Where could you take one step outside of the box to make something that’s more fun for you and your community?

I love the idea of sticking it to tech companies in 2024 and onwards. With AI incoming, it’s more important than ever to show that we cannot be manipulated infinitely. It’s on us, too, to shape the relationship we have with our clients and target customers.

The Fix: When you create content for others or market to them, there’s so much value in thinking about their experience of the internet. How can you be creative within the confines of the digital world and tools available to us? For example: How can you write an SEO-optimized article that feels human?

Two Asks

I’d love to know two things from you:

  1. Is it easier to read the newsletter with the Arial font vs. the typewriter one I used before?

  2. Do you know a non-fiction book agent and can connect me to them? If so, please reach out. I’ve decided to get my head out of my ass and publish my PhD on tech’s impact on democracy as a nonfiction book. Any help in the process is very welcome!

Happy Marketing,

Johanna 📣

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