I originally titled this blog post, “Why are you letting Facebook dictate your fate?” But internet best practices made me come to my senses, and I named it something more practical. But really–do you think Facebook should have the final say whether or not your business succeeds? Probably not.

Not sure what I’m talking about? Let me explain the risks of relying on social media marketing.

Social Media Platforms are Third-Party Platforms

Social media is an amazing marketing tool that connects people, so it’s great for brand awareness and sharing information. A small business can easily gain national recognition through a well-executed social media campaign or a video going viral. Social media also facilitates direct engagement with customers, making it advantageous for businesses to get customer feedback, address concerns, and build a loyal community. The interactive nature of social media helps humanize brands and create a sense of authenticity.

Many businesses will start marketing through social media because it’s a lot more cost-effective than pay-per-click or targeted advertising options. However, over-reliance on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or LinkedIn can be precarious. When you open a Facebook account, you rely on someone else’s operations. Changes in platform policies (like when IG posts stopped showing up in chronological order), algorithm changes (when FB reduced a business page’s organic reach), or even federal regulations (the recent TikTok ban) can have devastating effects if your business relies solely on social media. I’ve also seen some businesses get shut down by unexpected account suspensions or bans without knowing exactly what guidelines or community standards they violated. 

Because third parties control social media platforms, you don’t actually own any of the data you collect on your account. This means you don’t own your followers list either. If Meta (or whatever other platform) suddenly shuts down, you will lose access to all the people who follow your accounts, along with your entire reach.

Does This Mean Social Media Marketing is Bad?

Not necessarily! Understanding the risks of relying on social media marketing for your business or organization can make all the difference for an effective marketing strategy. However, think of your business as a storefront. Showing up on social media is like signing up for a local craft fair or event. You know customers will show up at these events, and it’s a great opportunity to meet new people and make more sales. But if the hosts decide to stop organizing the events, there will be no more events. Similarly, if a social media platform changes its policies or shuts down, your access to your followers and your ability to reach them can vanish overnight.

The key is to not put all your eggs in one basket. Social media is a powerful tool, but it should be part of a broader, diversified marketing strategy that includes marketing streams you fully own and control.

Owning Your Own Marketing Channels

Social media marketing isn’t a 100% guarantee, and at Sidewalk Marketing Co., we believe it’s crucial to own at least one marketing channel on your own. Here are three key marketing strategies you can fully own in your marketing mix:

  • Create your own website: A user-friendly website can act as a digital home for your business. Whether you’re using it as a brochure, lead generator, or something else, your website is a space you have full control over. This allows you to present your brand exactly how you want and connect directly with your audience without third-party interference.
  • Email marketing: Your email list allows you to gain direct access to your audience. You can personalize communication and foster deeper relationships with your customers or supporters. If one of your social media accounts were to disappear overnight, your email list would still be there so you can still reach your audience directly. There are myriad options, and we’ve had success using Mailchimp, MailerLite, and Moo Send internally and with our clients.
  • Content marketing: Creating valuable content—such as blogs, videos, and infographics—positions you as an authority in your field and drives organic traffic to your website. Content marketing helps you engage with your audience on a deeper level and enhances your visibility through search engine optimization (SEO).

Integrating Your Marketing Streams

By no means am I saying to ditch your social media account, unless it’s not giving you the results you want! It can still be a great way to amplify your other marketing efforts. We use social media in many ways for our clients, including promoting long-form content, sharing new ideas, connecting with audiences for feedback, driving traffic to websites, and more. 

Many people successfully connect with audiences and sell services through Instagram or Facebook, and we love seeing it work out for our clients. However, there are risks of relying on social media marketing for leads. If you need help complementing your social media marketing with other marketing streams that you own 100%, we’d love to chat!

Book a strategy session with us today to learn how we can help you build a solid, diversified marketing strategy that ensures your business remains strong and resilient, no matter what happens on social media platforms.