This is a highly personal post that I have for you today. It’s about how something huge that you rely turns against you and your are faced with overcoming the unimaginable.
Last week, all my Facebook pages were taken offline by Facebook. You can read details of this whole thing on my personal blog here, but suffice it to say, the place I relied upon for the lion’s share of my social media presence has been removed.
The life of the self-employed is fraught with unseen threats. When it comes to surviving, we all rely on money. As an employee you have certain protections for your income, such as not having to worry about being fired without some kind of due process. Even in “at will” states, there are a number of protections which prevent surprise terminations.
There are no such protections as someone who is working for a client under contract. Certainly, some contracts can have a clearly defined clauses that prevent absolute sudden loss of income, but they can also be tied up in court battles.
When you place your reliance for your business upon another company or service you might find that the guarantee of those services are not necessarily going to be executed as they’re intended.
So when a huge company like Facebook decides to break their own rules, you will have no expectations to be treated fairly. Not that you should, they are private business, you have no protections like free-speech or due process like you would under the government. However, that does leave you vulnerable.
My lesson is two-fold, one is about understanding risk, and the other is developing contingencies.
Typically when I’m evaluating risk when it comes to connecting my fortunes with another company, I’m looking at the health of the company and what they ask of me. Another important calculus is the risk of how much I might be investing in them and what I’m getting for that investment.
I got off track in just about all of these areas:
- Health of the company
- Too healthy. They’re huge and couldn’t care less about my business. I’m taking on much more risk here.
- What they Ask
- They had fairly reasonable requirements that were easy to follow, but the important thing I missed was what are the consequences of not following them. In my specific case, I followed the rules yet was punished. So if I had known the punishment and put that together with the above point, I’d know my risk was increasing.
- What am I investing?
- Well at first it was just time. Time to create content and post it. Then it became more of that since you need to produce a certain amount of content to get seen more. Even more than I could come up with, so I found external content which cost real money. Not much but some. Then I had to post so often, I needed a posting tool which also cost money.
- Important to note, at first not much, but then it began to grow more and more. The investment increased without me knowing it.
- What am I getting?
- I knew I would get some social media connections which would grow my business presence. Facebook ultimately changed the way my data got seen and I had to adapt to maintain the same amount of connections. I was not getting consistent results due to the company’s changes.
In this case, I needed contingencies for the continued social media marketing of my business. I also needed to retain the content I was sharing. Once you post something somewhere, there’s no guarantee that it will stick around. Almost as much as there’s no guarantee it will ever go away. It’s all about the platform at that point.
What did work for me was working on other social media networks. This was very important. Researching the best places to find my audience, not just place, was key.
If you find yourself, like me, missing some of the key risk indicators, then all you have to rely on is your own resilience.
There are businesses that I need to stop now. Most of my audience and the marketing plan for the businesses relied directly upon Facebook. With that gone, the amount of work it takes to rebuild the business idea on another platform takes away from its profitability so I need to move on.
That’s ok though. There are plenty more ideas, and knowing a bit about where I don’t want to invest my time means I won’t waste any more time in those areas.
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