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It’s finally happened.
For years, I have been preaching here how dangerous it is to become reliant on one company.
Why it’s dangerous to rely on one platform to send you traffic, or one website to sell your products and services.
This mistake can be so costly, it can shut entire companies down overnight – leaving you with nothing to build back from. It’s incredibly scary.
Two weeks before writing this post, I logged into Twitter to discover that my account had been suspended. I received no email regarding the suspension, and was not told what rule I supposedly broke that led to my suspension.
In fact, I only found out when I went to tweet (as usual) to my 21,000 followers, only to be greeted with this wonderful message:
Truly The End?
This isn’t the first time that my Twitter account had been locked. Last year, the same thing happened.
I filed the appeal with Twitter, and the suspension was lifted in hours – with Twitter admitting they had made a mistake.
This time, no dice. Two weeks have gone by, and I have not heard a single thing. My baby product brand’s account was also suspended, and has also heard nothing from Twitter since filing the appeal.
I’m still optimistic that both accounts will be restored, but I’m not relying on it.
Nor should I be.
Update 11/28/21: It took a few months, but I’d just like to point out that my account was restored, with Twitter admitting it was a mistake.
Your Own Platform Should Come First
I want to be very clear that I am in no way against social media. It is an incredible marketing channel, and every business should be utilizing it to its full potential. The capability to generate an entirely new audience – while simultaneously building real relationships with that audience, cannot be understated. There is no good reason that businesses should not be implementing a smart social strategy as part of their marketing plan.
That being said, you do not want to leave yourself vulnerable. These companies do not care about you. They are flawed. Their rules and terms will change without notice, and at some point, you may end up like me – permanently suspended (which was likely done by a bot), and unable to reach a real person to set things straight.
If you want to thrive in the long-term, you cannot put your fate in another company’s hands.
Understanding The Role Of Social
It is your goal to make social media work for you. Utilize social media to build your business – not to build some other company’s bottom line.
Therefore, it’s imperative that you do the following three things:
1. Funnel People To Your Own Website
You’re in business to make money, and business transactions are not going to happen directly on social networks.
You must make one of your core goals with social media to escalate the relationship. Engage with them heavily enough and provide so much value, that your followers are compelled to visit your own website to get more.
This doesn’t mean that you should start spamming links to your followers. Nor does it mean that you should deceive or trick your following into clicking your link.
Again, you’re in business to make money – not to get link clicks. Link clicks on their own are worthless.
Link clicks with intent are an important part of the process in moving a follower towards a sale, however.
Measure the results of your social media strategy not by how many new followers you achieve, but by how many people show interest in escalating your relationship further. This proves that your social strategy is having its intended effect, and guess what? This will actually lead to a larger following in the long run.
Bonus tip: Based off of what type of content website visitors show interest them, retargeting visitors with relevant lead magnets can be a very cheap way to get people onto your email list. An email subscriber is typically worth much more than just a follower!
2. Keep Your Brand Top-Of-Mind
Not every follower is going to be ready to buy from you right now – and it’s not your job to force them to.
While generating interest is important, you’re not going to be able to sell every new product you release to your entire following straight away.
However, by regularly appearing in front of your audience with valuable content, you accomplish a few key things:
- Your following begins to like and trust you.
- You grant yourself the ability to blast the occasional promotion, without annoying people.
- When people are ready for your product, they’ll be thinking about you first.
Think of how many enormous brands pay for television commercials, that seem completely irrelevant to you.
Car insurance companies are one of my favorite examples. They do not expect you to drop your insurance company and switch to them the day, week, month, or even year that they run their ad.
However, when the thought of switching enters your mind, they’re hoping that you’ll call them first.
Fail to get in front of your audience regularly, and they will completely forget about you and your brand.
3. Foster A Community
There is an incredible difference between building a following, and building a community.
Too many marketers force their communication to be one-way. They do not respond to comments, ask questions, or seem to care at all about what their following has to say.
It’s greedy. But it’s also ineffective with the goals just mentioned.
When you share tons of valuable content and take the time to engage with the audience you already have, your community will naturally grow on its own. People will start sharing your content and putting it in front of even more people, without being asked to. They will naturally attract others that are similar to them, and your following will grow on its own simply from continuing what’s already working.
Every network has (what I like to call) a tip-off point. Once you reach the tip-off point, you no longer have to actively fight for each new follower. Your following begins to grow exponentially.
With a more engaged following, you reach the tip-off point more quickly. This is why large pages continue to get larger, and small pages have a difficult time growing.
Develop a framework of engagement and community building early on, and ultimately social media will perform much better for you. Even if you do inevitably get suspended, your biggest fans will follow you will ever you end up next.
The purpose of this article was not to fear monger, but to highlight an important reality – don’t build your business on somebody else’s property.
Even if you follow every single rule diligently, platforms can shut you down for any reason that they like. If you’re reliant on them for any aspect of your business, you become vulnerable.
Utilize social media for everything that you can, but always ensure that your business will survive without them. Despite the fact that I won’t have (what was previously) my best performing social network, I have no doubt that my business will continue to grow this year.
I’d love to hear how you plan to utilize social to grow your own website this year. We can all benefit from hearing more about the strategy you’re implementing!
To your success,
– James McAllister
I agree with you 100%. The social media platforms marketers are using is like a borrowed property. When the owner feels like he does not want to lend it our any further, he kicks you out. So it makes sense to have a backup and NOT rely entirely on social media sites for business. Those who depend on social media are at risk of losing out.
Hey Moss, good to see you!
You’re absolutely right. This is something I’ve been trying to keep in mind for a long time, and it really became a big deal when Twitter suspended me. Strangely enough, I was unsuspended right after publishing this post – after waiting almost 2 months!
Couldn’t imagine how nervous I would have been if I had completely relied on Twitter.
James McAllister recently posted…Link Whisper Review: How I Built 811 New Internal Links With Link Whisper
I share your opinion too, we should never depend on a platform and try to user our own or different ones.
I am agree with you. You have written a great article, thanks for sharing such information, people who are dependent on social media are in danger of getting lost. Never make your business dependent on social media. Social media is a good option to grow the business. Social media can remove business anytime it can come. L In India today, people who run their livelihood from tik tok are worried today. Can be ban anytime in tik tok india
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Well said Rod! Unfortunately I’ve seen this happen to far too many people. They see some success with a platform, so they pour everything into it. Even quicker than the success came, it’s gone.
Definitely take advantage of the exposure the social networks can give you, but always prioritize your own platform first!
James McAllister recently posted…7 Blogging Myths That You’d Look Foolish Believing
Hey James, great tips. 1000000% agree. Most of the time, SMBs fall into the trap of relying on social media. While that may be okay to some extent (I’m a fan of progress over perfection), it doesn’t do them any good in the long-run. A building should be built on a strong foundation. Online, that means everything should be centered around your website.
Hey Marketing Introvert!
I definitely agree that thereis no harm in pursuing an active social media strategy and in fact this should be encouraged. But like you said, it is not a strong foundation to build your entire business on. Ultimately, you are building on rented spacce and it can really come back to bite you if you’re not careful!
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It may be something that’s clear as night and day for us in the industry, but too many owners rely too much on social media. I’m blaming celebrities and other personalities. They put such great care in their social media profiles that others think that’s all there is to it.
If i build up my following, i can sell a lot. I know one cafe owner who does that. He keeps building his Instagram account. And I’m like, it’s not sustainable. But it’s his money he’s wasting.
I think a lot of business owners receive a lot of conflicting advice, and they feel like they’re missing out if they’re not on every network (even if it doesn’t make sense for them.) Most businesses probably should have some social media presence – but it’s not the end-all-be-all marketing channel some people like to claim it is for most companies.
That being said, if you can turn an immediate profit that can be tied directly to social media, then it makes sense to scale that as far as it can go. You’ll just want to be sure you don’t experience a rise in overhead that you can’t maintain if that income suddenly disappears. Ultimately, that’s what puts businesses in trouble – their costs rise as they scale, and suddenly the revenue disappears. It’s a very vulnerable position to be in!
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I agree with you. That is why I still believe your very own website, blog and community will serve better purpose to connect you with your target audience as you risk being suspended or even blocked anytime. Thanks for highlighting this.
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Absolutely! Take advantage of other platforms as much as you can, but always ensure that you control your primary channel.
James McAllister recently posted…Content-Based Businesses – The Key To True Freedom
It’s always great to find more ideas to make money from our blog, I have built my blog around one of your posts ideas which is top list
Happy to hear that Pritam!
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I accept as true with you. that’s why I still believe your very own website, blog and community will serve a better purpose to attach you together with your audience as you risk being suspended or may be blocked anytime. Thanks for highlighting this.
Very true! So many people don’t realize the importance of this until its too late.
James McAllister recently posted…7 Lessons I Learned Recording My First Podcast With A Guest
i agree with you,, we should have another plan B no only depend on social media
That’s true – depending on one of anything ultimately leaves you vulnerable!
James McAllister recently posted…How To Grow Your Business During The Next Recession
Nice tips. We should not just rely on social media
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Prior to reading this post, i was very skeptical about the topic and i must tell you all my confusions vanished the moment i read that you lost 21000 followers on twitter. Its true we have to focus on making ourselves less vulnerable to the outside factors as long as we are striving to grow and make profits. We need to be very diligent about the process through which we are gaining our followers.
Thank you for sharing!! very helpful
Well said Priya! This concept isn’t just true for social media – really, we should never become reliant on any one company, product or service etc. to operate effectively. Otherwise, they have leverage over you, which puts you in a risky situatino!
Since publishing this post I’ve managed to get my Twitter account back, but it could have just as easily went the other way.
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