Social media is one of the greatest marketing tools ever… you need it, we all know that. But let’s put that aside for a minute and talk about it as a form of real estate.
One of the biggest misconceptions for small businesses is, “I don’t need a website; I do everything through social media.” That’s great until something happens and you realize you don’t own the information that’s on there. If something happens and your data is subpoenaed, social media platforms can give all your data – payment information from any advertising you’ve done, your creative content, message history, posts, records, etc. Even something as simple as a platform changing its algorithms for who sees your content and how they interact with it can majorly impact your business. When you post on social media, that’s rented space…you have no control over what they do with it.
On the other hand, if you have information on your website, your own domain, that’s yours. You control that. That’s real estate you own, rather than renting. If you aren’t putting a website first as a central piece of your marketing strategy, that’s a mistake.
Degrees of Ownership
Some social media platforms do allow for more privacy and control, and of course, that’s where everyone already is “hanging out.” But on Facebook, Instagram, etc., these platforms, can ultimately decide what you can and can’t post, and who can and can’t see you. Compare that to your website. It’s yours. You control it.
So the questions to ask when choosing social media platforms are: What parts are yours? What do you own? And which parts are you only “renting,” putting you at the whims of your online “landlord”?
Build It Now, Not Later
One conversation a marketing agency should be having with their clients is, “Hey, what’s the value of each of these platforms for your goals?” It’s critical for business owners to understand the difference between various platforms and what they’re getting into. But not having enough information can paralyze many business owners.
Many business owners say “I’ll figure that out later,” and end up kicking the can down the road until they can’t anymore, until they have a major issues. But that’s like putting a bandaid on a bullet wound—it’s not going to solve the problem. If you haven’t established a solid presence on a platform that meets your goals, you won’t have that community when you need it. So address it early. Fix the problem before it gets to the point where it has to be amputated.
Case in point: social media was leveraged to create such a swell of negative media about one particular small business (after some delays with client projects) that it forced that company to close, even though they were actively trying to complete the delayed projects. If the company had their own social media presence, they could have told their own side of the story—but they didn’t. And by the time that happened, it was too late to grow one. When an unhappy customer puts someone out of business, no one wins—the business owner and employees lose, the customer loses, and now no one can get that business’ services.
Having a social media presence gives you options when things happen—such as one angry client who decides to blast negative reviews on every platform.
One roofing company with a bunch of negative reviews wanted to turn it around. We presented the idea for them to fix a client’s roof for free, then use their social media presence (which they did have) to post about the project. Customer interactions like that, amplified by social media, can help show the positive side of a business and balance out the negatives. But you need to have build the trust with your target clients first, through a creative content strategy that properly communicates your brand reputation.
We can’t necessarily predict what might happen with social media in the future, but keep in mind – social media is people.
Be Strategic About Where You Put Your Eggs
It’s inevitable that someone who owns the social media platform you’re on for free will eventually do something you don’t agree with, something that’s not in your favor. If all your eggs are in that basket, you’ll be limited on options. So it’s important to be strategic about where you put your eggs.
Make sure you have options. A website that you control is a key part of that. But also, learning how to invest your time and resources into platforms you have more control over is key. You never want to be on the back end of that conversation.
Be proactive versus reactive. Take the time to understand What Affects What. How do all the pieces of your marketing and branding work together? Not all platforms will be right for all businesses. Understand the ones that are right, how to use them, and how to protect yourself – what do you own, what do you rent, and how do you do the rest?
The information that we’re giving away here is all free; you could even go find this on your own. But then the question is what to do with it, and how to execute it.
We consider ourselves more accountability partners than anything. If you need someone to come alongside your business to help you implement these principles, contact us! As a marketing and branding agency in Tampa, FL, we can help. It’s what we do.