After news hit that Facebook would release Timeline for brand pages, I received an email from a panicked business owner. For the purpose of this post, let’s call this person (who for the record, I’d never met or worked with before) Bill.
“We’ve invested significant time and money in Facebook’s current pages setup,” Bill’s email read, “And I’m afraid we will lose it all when Facebook adds Timeline.”
Although I appreciate Bill thinking I have some pull with the Facebook team, his concerns get at the very crux of one of social media marketing’s most damaging myths. Just because your business markets on Facebook, Twitter or wherever else does not mean that the content, data, and materials that live there are yours. Translated to Bill’s world, this means Timeline is coming for brand pages regardless of Bill’s investment in the current Facebook page infrastructure and there’s nothing he can do about it.
For the record, I think Bill and his Facebook page will be just fine this time around, but what about in other situations? What if, for example, Facebook spirals into oblivion like Myspace did? Will all that content die as the social network falls out of favor? The situation doesn’t sound likely anytime soon, but the point is that on social media channels you may not own as much as you think. That’s why, when people talk about ditching their hosting plan in favor of just keeping a Facebook page, I often fall short of breath and get a little woozy and apparently I’m not the only one that feels this way.
A recent article on Hubspot points to the exact fallacy I’m talking about:
“So social media is starting to get more expensive. Yes, it is still far less expensive than many other forms of marketing, but what is a marketer to do? Take control. The only online platforms that you can ensure will remain free in your marketing mix are the ones you own and control yourself. Facebook could decide tomorrow that it wants you to pay a monthly fee to have a business page. While unlikely, it is completely possible.
As marketer, you own your website and your blog. Failing to invest in both of these key inbound marketing assets could have a negative impact on your future cost-per-lead. This means that those Inc. 500 companies that indicated they were blogging less in a recent survey are heading in the wrong direction.
You dictate all the terms of your blog and website — not only the content but also the design and call-to-action placement. Your website and blog are also the only inbound marketing tools through which you have complete control over accessing valuable marketing analytics information. Think about the limited insight you have now into the analytics of your social media channels. When it comes to third-party channels, you have no control over the data that you have access to. It’s all up to those third-party channels to decide what to give you.”
How to Protect Yourself From Social Media Platform Changes
How do you make sure that you’ll never fall prey to a social network’s policy changes or complete disappearance? When you’re adding some strategy to your social media marketing plan, ask yourself this simple question:
“If all the social media platforms change their policies or just plain go away tomorrow, will my social media marketing efforts still make a difference?”
If the answer is yes you’re ahead of most people. If the answer is no there’s still time to jump ahead of the curve so you don’t end up in Bill’s place (or worse).
- Integrate Your Marketing Efforts – The best way to protect yourself from dramatic changes on social platforms is to create one sustainable strategy that links and spans across networks and onto your own brand site. Extend your current marketing efforts across social channels to reap the biggest benefit, and spread your blanket far and wide (where it makes sense) to grab the biggest benefit.
- Update Across Channels – When it comes to social media, not everyone uses the same social channels. As a result, you can reproduce a lot of your messaging across platforms. Just make sure to keep the content fresh and unique enough that anyone following you on multiple platforms won’t feel bombarded with the same thing over and over again.
- Maintain An Owned Central Hub – Those videos on YouTube or Facebook questions answers that epitomize the glory of your brand and it’s user generated content? Feel free to post them on your blog (or another owned medium) where people can appreciate them on your brand site. This might not be the same as reaching a huge audience on the Facebook platform, but content on your owned website gives you full control over messaging, calls to action, and everything else.
A lot of social media marketers miss these three pillars of social media marketing, but the ability to weave a social media marketing plan into the whole of your marketing plan ensures a your brand a little extra security. The extra effort may feel superfluous today, but you’ll thank yourself when your social marketing efforts start to snowball and give you serious momentum on an owned platform.