In January of 2018, Facebook announced a new algorithm that changed the game for any brand with a business page on Facebook. In an effort to draw the attention of each user to their own friends, family, and local communities, Facebook’s new algorithm would push business pages to the bottom of their followers’ newsfeed. This would make every brand essentially invisible unless they paid for advertising.
As a result of this shift, companies that spent years building up a Facebook strategy and following were now thrusted back to square one with no warning. The same algorithm changes arrived at Instagram soon afterwards.
The sin here isn’t what Facebook did — after all, they are in charge of their own algorithm — but that businesses became so heavily reliant on Facebook that when their algorithm switched up, many were knocked off balance.
This instance highlights the issue of playing on someone else’s turf. In sports, the home team usually has the advantage. They know the nuances of their turf better than the opposing team; they are comfortable playing and have their own routine to follow; the fans in the seats are overwhelmingly on their side and will do whatever it takes to throw the other team off their game. The home team has the advantage.
Facebook is not your home turf. Neither is TikTok, LinkedIn, or Medium. These are important tools that every business should be utilizing, but when you begin to rely too heavily on any of them, you set yourself up for disaster. Instead of relying on these artificial turfs, it’s better to keep the battleground in-house and build your own stadium.
Don’t outsource what’s important
Businesses tend to outsource what’s not important, and keep the very important aspects in-house. The reason for this is that outsourcing small things is a great way to save money and keeping the important items and processes in-house allows you to keep it under lock-and-key. But all too often, businesses outsource their home field to social media platforms and altogether give up the much-coveted home field advantage.
When you outsource important aspects of your business, you are now relying on a 3rd party to operate. This isn’t a bad thing. Alliances in business are crucial to any sort of success. Often times, alliances are made between two companies that can benefit from one another. One company provides something that the other needs, and vice-versa. You need a platform to publish your content and Facebook needs content creators to keep users engaged.
Issues begin to arise when the party with the upper hand (in this case, Facebook) alters the terms of your agreement, so to speak. They change up their algorithm or they increase their fees. You now have to pay to get the same exposure that you once got for free.
Instead of relying on a 3rd party to handle one of the most important aspects of your business, keep everything in-house and move the battle back onto your field.
Move the battle to your field
Your customers want to experience your content on familiar territory: Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, TikTok, LinkedIn, etc. When on these apps, they are at home in their newsfeeds. It’s easy for them to scroll pass your content if it doesn’t feel right for them at this moment.
Use these channels to lure in new customers. Allow them to discover your content on these sites, making them feel comfortable experiencing something new on a familiar platform, surrounded in their newsfeeds by familiar content. They will happily sample what you have to offer.
This is when you want to bring them into your ecosystem of followers. You want these social media fans to regularly visit your website, your blog, and to subscribe to your email list. These are the grounds which you control, and it is here where customers are truly your fans. You want to shift the battlefield from the familiar to your own.
This allows you to assume passive control over the customer experience. By introducing yourself to new customers through social media posts and drawing them into your home field, you now control the rules of the game. The customer isn’t aware that he or she is giving up control to your company, and frankly they are happy to do so at this point. If they became fans of your content on social media, they would happily allow themselves to be taken into your ecosystem of articles, videos, and newsletters in your own world. It’s like becoming a fan of Disney by watching movies and then setting foot in The Magic Kingdom.
The field upon which your customers consume your content is one of the most important aspects of your business. Far too many outsource this to the social media giants, who in turn change the rules on us once we become overly dependent on them. Additionally, if customers exclusively consume your content on these platforms, you will forever be playing on their field, not yours. You give up the home field advantage.
Instead, you want to draw them into your world. Shift the game onto your field. If they like your content and want to consume more, they will happily join your world of followers. Your website is your home; your email list is your primary way to communicate important information and new pieces of content. There is nothing that Facebook or Google can do to take that away from you. You control every aspect of the game. This is what it takes to build and keep a happy following.