Last fall, Facebook had a pretty major outage. By major, I mean the whole thing went down and took Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp and others with it. There’s even an entry about it on Wikipedia to mark the occasion. For those who run their entire organizations on Facebook or Instagram, this presented a giant challenge. For others, however, who use social media as only part of a larger marketing plan, the outage was merely inconvenient but not crippling. What can we learn from this? For one thing, social media control rests in the hands of the corporations. For those who have accounts and business pages, it’s rented real estate.
How is Social Media Rented Real Estate?
At some point in our lives, most of us have rented living quarters. Unless you busted out on your own directly into home ownership, you likely rented an apartment or house. Who made the rules for where you lived? Who decided whether you could paint the walls and what else you could do in your home? Yup… your landlord did. In the same way a landlord keeps rules about your apartment, social media companies decide what you can do on a business page.
Can your landlord change the rules? Yes, especially when time comes to renew your lease. Can big companies do the same with social media control? Absolutely. The bottom line? You don’t own social media. Your website belongs to you but, in general, your social media presence does not. Regardless of how you feel about whether social media control should have government regulation, these are private companies that currently make their own rules. They could take your page down tomorrow and be perfectly within their rights.
Other Social Media Considerations
We’ve talked before about why having only a Facebook page as your web presence is dangerous, but it’s worth updating some of those reasons and considering some of the other platforms, as well.
While this post discusses social media control, business owners should also consider its usage. For the first time, Facebook users have started declining. According to an article on Vox, the platform lost about half a million global daily users during the last quarter of 2021. Some of those users still have accounts but don’t access them as frequently. Additionally, their average user age has gradually increased, meaning they no longer reach a younger, more influential audience.
We’ve talked about Facebook, but what about the other platforms? You can still use Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, and other sites right? Well…. yes. But plenty of people still stay away from social media completely for a variety of reasons. Even those who use it regularly take breaks because it can be overwhelming, politically charged, or just because they want to unplug. We all know people who have taken a social media hiatus, right? In fact, I have several friends who give it up for Lent.
Do you know what they don’t give up for Lent? The internet in general. People don’t really give up email, either. For that reason, you should leverage your website and your email list as much as possible.
Use Social Media As PART of Your Strategy
If you currently use social media as your entire online store or web presence, I encourage you to diversify. You may think not having a dedicated website that you own saves you money, but it can come back to bite you. If the rules changed and social media was gone tomorrow, would your business survive? You can build a starting website relatively inexpensively these days and expand it as you go. Thinking you can’t afford a website really isn’t a good reason for not having one.
Does that mean you should abandon social media as a strategy in your marketing plan? Absolutely not. Use it to reach those who are there, but don’t put all your eggs in that one basket. Ideally, your social media accounts should direct people to the places you do own and control, such as your website and your email list. So take control of your online presence, and keep swimming along!