The Dangers of Building a Social Media Based Business
Building your business on social media is an amazing opportunity to achieve reach and scale quickly. It has never been easier to reach a 'niche within a niche' for your super specific product (like cat armour). But there are dangers that come with building an entire business on social media.
In this post, I'll be covering the risks you assume by building your business on someone else's platform, and then what the best alternatives are.
I am in no way saying that using social media to promote your business is not beneficial. On the contrary, we help businesses use social media to their advantage to reach a wider audience and find cost efficiencies in attracting the right prospects for your product. But we're also wary that....
1. Social media platforms are a business too.
Facebook, Instagram (also part of FB), Twitter, Youtube, Snapchat, you name it. They're all businesses with shareholders, investors and employees, all of whom demand growth and development as a brand and business.
The social landscape will continue to evolve and if the lifeblood of your business is on social then you run the risk that when the sands of social shift again, you could end in the abyss.
2. Social media companies don't need to tell you that they're changing tomorrow. They just do.
Ask any Facebook Ads marketer and they'll tell you it's like a full time job just keeping up with the myriad of changes that happen on the platform (seemingly) every week. A minor change to ads manager here, a button gets moved to another spot there, tracking data becomes more advanced. They tweak their service all the time.
And that's a good thing!
But it also means that if you come to rely on it (like Facebook organic page reach back in the day), then you'll be in for a rude shock when tomorrow it's gone and now you need to either pay for it, or find another way to perform that same task (i.e pay for ads).
3. You really can't complain or do anything about it when they do change their service.
It humoured me when people freaked out that Instagram were introducing non-chronological order for their posts in the newsfeed and started spamming everyone to follow their posts.
I mean honestly, what did you think would happen? They'd be puritans who never changed it for the benefit of their advertisers and (therefore) shareholders? You'd just be able to go on your merry way promoting your organic weaves and never paying a cent for such privilege? The uproar was astounding.
If you consider that in the offline sense, it's like having access to an entire market of people, and then as soon as someone says you need to pay for pamphlets from now on kicking up a stink!
So what's the solution?
By all means, use social media for promoting your business, but be wary of these things. It can change and so you need to be able to move just as quickly when it does.
A good place to start is to ask yourself: "If social media didn't exist tomorrow, would my business survive?"
If the answer to that is no, you need to find a way to own more of your lead generation and customer interaction. Here's a few options:
Start a mailing list.
Say you've got an organic weaves business. When customers purchase from you, do you take the opportunity to ask whether they'd be happy to receive emails from you every now and again? As a general rule of thumb, if your product is amazing, then you could probably work it into your sales terms and conditions that you'll send previous customers emails.
Email marketing is highly effective. If you don't believe it, then reserve your judgey opinion and try it before you shoot it down. Do what has been proven to work. Over and over again.
Send traffic to your website.
If you have social media and a website, are you actually encouraging anyone to go to your site?
There's a lot you can learn just by seeing where visitors go after landing on your site. If you don't currently track website visitor behaviour, check out: "what should you track on a website?"
Sending them to your website is a minimum, but you can take it a step further:
Send them to a specific offer/funnel.
If you have an Instagram account, then you know that website traffic from that platform will be 100% mobile traffic. A great way to use this to your advantage is to use a landing page that suits mobile best.
Even better, tie it with a specific offer just for Instagram visitors. That would look like this:
Insta visitor > Custom Bio link > Send to landing page > Free lead gen offer in exchange for email address > Email address added to list > Start emailing useful information, tips and tricks > Slowly work in an offer for your product.
That's a basic digital strategy right there! This is what we do for people at Roarify. We strategise the best way to reach prospects and how to then nurture the relationship. We also help you to build the emails after sign up in advance en masse so that you can move onto your next task while the emails roll out to new prospects on auto-pilot.
And by doing this through a channel you actually OWN (rather than a third party social media platform), it has the longevity to not only work for you now, but be an asset into the future. And that's regardless of what happens to social media as we know it today.
Do you lead people through a specific funnel?
The old adage of 'adapt or die' is well and truly alive in business. Social media provides an amazing free opportunity for businesses to build a tribe.
However as a business if you build on a platform you don't own, you're always running the risk of that platform changing its rules/algorithm. Like you, Instagram (as an example) is also a business and so it's not a 'right' for your business that Insta should be a free platform for you forever as a business.