This is a story about how I learned a valuable lesson.
Well, I already knew the lesson. But I didn’t think it would happen to me…
I almost lost 6 months worth of work and 15,000 Facebook fans in the blink of an eye.
Don’t make the same mistake.
Image courtesy of thebadastronomer
A Rude Awakening
After a long, relaxing weekend in Las Vegas, I woke up Monday morning feeling refreshed.
That didn’t last long.
As I logged in to check a client’s Facebook account, it came back with an alert I hadn’t seen before.
Facebook didn’t approve of having a company account manage the business page. So they decided to shut down the account.
If you’ve done some serious Facebook marketing before, then you’ll know there was no good way to privately interact with fans of a business page. You would have to use your own personal Facebook account (you know, the one tied to your friends and family) to privately interact with random customers (sometimes, irate).
So we set up a company account to handle private interactions without compromising our personal Facebook accounts.
Apparently, Facebook didn’t like that.
So they decided to shut it down. Which also pulled down the company page in the process.
During 2011, we added over 15,000 fans (organically – without advertising) in 6 months. And now all that work seemed to be lost.
Fortunately, we had a contact there so we were able to get our work back. But most people (and small businesses) don’t have that luxury.
Copyblogger published a post a few months ago about digital sharecropping.
The meaning of the article was: Don’t build where you don’t own.
They gave a great analogy about how a tenant – landlord relationship works.
When the landlord (Facebook) wants to raise the rent or get rid of you, they can do whatever/whenever they like. And for a location-dependent business, that could be a catasrophe.
The same is true online.
You don’t own social networks. They are not marketing assets.
Social networks are distribution channels. You use them to communicate with others and distribute content.
The 3 Things You Should Build Instead
Instead of focusing all your efforts on social networking, you need to focus on these three things.
1. Website & Blog
You need to own your website and blog. That means on a branded, specific URL and your own hosting account.
You also need to fill this website and blog with real quality content. Remember, content that’s “good enough” isn’t anymore.
2. Email Newsletter
Building a subscriber database is one of the most important thing you can do.
This list gives you unprecedented access to people’s full, undivided attention.
This marketing asset gives you access to people you can market to over and over again.
They’re already prequalified to receive your information
Remember that all buying begins with trust. You have to build a relationship over time with people.
This is like “social capital”. It’s about building good will with people, that you may cash in on at a later date.
Reputation is an asset.
Don’t make the same mistake as (myself) and countless others. Social networks are great at what they do. But you don’t own them.
Focus primarily on building the things that matter, that you own, and that will pay you back for years to come.