I remember telling a previous boss over ten years ago we should build a social media presence. He laughed and said, “Social media is for kids.” He preferred mailers, emails, and faxes. “Today, that company is no longer in business. And that manager is probably scoping up litter on the side of a highway somewhere. Plenty of companies and a few individuals made the mistake of underestimating social media’s power and reach back then. But that is no longer the case. Here we are present day all aware of how social media can build our following and strengthen our brands, but have we become too dependent on social media platforms and third-party solutions.
Most social media platforms seem pleasant initially, but as they grow in size and influence your business starts to invest more time, energy, content into the platform and begin turning a profit, you are reminded who the boss is. I’ve had friends on Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, etc. have accounts frozen, blocked, or even permanently deleted because they didn’t conform to the platform’s obscure rules. I’m sure you have read the stories of Youtubers having their videos demonetized without warning. These companies are getting more and more heavy-handed with its users because they have become giants. All of these companies know that their platforms are how Entrepreneurs and small businesses primarily keep in touch and market content to our supporters.
It dawned on me about a year ago that I needed to change this. Something went wrong, and Instagram was down for an entire day I couldn’t post anything. My whole business was dependent on Instagram. I felt powerless; it felt like an eternity. I had no website and no email list to reach out to my customers and supporters. I’m glad it happened because it opened my eyes. I realized that no matter how big my fanbase was or how engaging my content. If Instagram has an outage or just decided to block, freeze, or delete my account, they could do so without a reason or warning. That didn’t sit right with me, so I started on a journey to free myself from being so dependent on these platforms by launching my website 95killers.com a few weeks ago. Below are a few tips I’m implementing to avoid the business being so reliant on social media. Please leave any additional tips we have missed in the comments below.
- Build a website uploaded on a server. Avoid using hosting sites that provide website templates. The reason is that you will be unable to take the website with you if you change hosting providers as it’s only a rental owned by the hosting company.
- Make sure your website has blog capabilities built-in. Blogs are a great way to provide your supporters with up to date content. We plan to use our blog area to promote online events, product announcements, etc., before this was done through Eventbrite. We are using a self hosted wordpress blog.
- Update your website once a week. Google and other search engines crawl the web, looking for fresh content. Your blog can lead visitors straight to your website.
- Don’t feed all of your content to social media; tease your supporters with a taste and lead them back to your website.Make sure to provide useful content on your website to keep visitors coming back and sharing your information.
- Social media accounts have a history of going down; when and if this happens, there is no way for you to get in touch with your audience; collecting emails on your site will ensure that you are always in contact with your supporters. We are currently using Mailchimp to collect emails but plan on finding an alternative we can buy rather than rent (still looking)
- Stop investing all of your money in paid advertisements on social media. We have discovered that marketing ads on social media can bring attention to your brand, but nothing beats building strong brand awareness through a solid post strategy.
- Being independent means not being held captive I planned on using Patreon as a way to add a membership feature to the 95killers.com website but realized that Patreon charges a fee an I would be dependent on their platform for that feature to work so found out about a company called Amember from this youtuber and was able to pay a one time fee of 149 and was able to set up the feature on my website (it was a tricky set up but the video tutorials and support helped a great deal)
- If you are selling merchandise on your website, you don’t need to use Shopify; you can have your shopping cart built. Shopify was charging me 30 dollars a month, whether I made a sale or not. I terminated my Shopify account, and now the website shopping cart uses PayPal to process payments. ( Pay pal charges 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction) Shopify Basic costs $29 monthly (and 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction).
We hope this post encourages you to create a business that is less dependent on social media. Being Independent is something most entrepreneurs content creators wanted to achieve in the first place. Watch the signs and move accordingly, and your business will survive the storm that is coming.