How to Market Without Facebook (and Why You Should Be Thinking About It Now)
Something happened recently that rocked a huge group of people to their core: Facebook and Instagram went down for around six hours. While you can comment about the addictive qualities of social media and our phones (and that’s an article for another day), I looked at it through the eyes of a marketer. The fact is, many businesses use social media exclusively to market their businesses. Some businesses talked about losing millions of dollars during that six-hour stretch, because everything they do (marketing, selling and collecting money) all happens through Facebook.
So it begs the question: What happens when Facebook goes away? What will you do if the largest social media platform stops? How will you market your business or your organization without Facebook? Now, before anyone gets on your high horse, this is not an article designed to bash Facebook, or using the platform to market. From my perspective, an organization would be crazy not to use this resource. For all its faults, I still see Facebook as the No. 1 platform to promote just about anything online. But some of us (maybe me included) have become overly reliant on this one platform to meet our needs.
So what will we do? How do you market without Facebook? Here are a couple of ideas. And you might not want to wait until Facebook disappears to start using them.
Move to Another Social Platform
The most obvious and immediate strategy, if this happens, is to move to another social media platform. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what happened that day. Twitter usage took off, as did Linkedin, TikTok, etc. And in talking with other marketing experts about this very situation, that was their first suggestion. As my friend Bill Petrie said, “When Facebook goes away it will likely be because another platform became more important.” That’s a great point. So first step: Go to where your clients are hanging out.
While this is good advice (and it is), there are challenges here too. What if Facebook goes away quickly? What if the platform that takes on most of the users is not one you have a following on? You have the audience built on Facebook. The challenge, of course, is that you would need to start over to build your audience again. So if you need to build that audience on another platform at some point, maybe you should begin before you need to.
Takeaway: If your audience can only access you on one platform, you might want to consider building another.
Rented Versus Owned Media
Since the early days of marketing, we have become very comfortable with “rented media.” That is when another entity “owns” the audience and we just rent their attention for a short time. We did this with radio, newspapers and TV. Those companies owned the audience and we paid for access. As social media proliferated, this relationship became a bit more confusing. As we built our audience on these platforms, we got lulled into thinking that we “owned” the audience. But we don’t. If Facebook decides to change their algorithm, they don’t have to check with us. They own the audience. So does every other social media platform. That became incredibly clear when Facebook and Instagram went down. Boom: “our” audience was gone.
That is why it’s so important to create an audience that is actually our own. How do we do this? The best way is to get your fans to sign up for an email or text list. When a customer opts in to receive messages from you, they are really a part of your audience. You have the right to send them messages when you want to. While many marketers ruin this by spamming people with too many offers, many do a great job of providing value and giving great offers that the audience is excited to see. Do that.
But we all know that (thanks to those spammers) most people don’t just go around handing out their email address to everyone. Most of us have been burned by that! So it’s important to create an offer of real value so the audience is excited to hand over their information. Then, it’s equally important to value that audience. The audience you “own” is a true value to your company.
Takeaway: Create an offer for your customers to “opt in” to sign up to get emails (or texts) from you.
Have a Website That Works for You
I have repeatedly heard from new small businesses, “Why do I need a website? I have a Facebook page!” Well my friends, this is why. If that platform goes away, so does all of your ability to tell your story. In addition, though Facebook is a powerful marketing tool, not everyone is on it. That means that even if they want to see your message or learn about your service, they can’t. You need a website.
But you don’t just need a website. You need a website that works for you. Many companies have what I call a “brochure website.” That is a great start. But if you want to succeed in a world without Facebook, you need a website that can help people find you. That means a website that Google can find. Have you done a search for your service? Not your name—your service. Are you coming up near the top? If you are not in the first few search results, you are effectively invisible to your potential customers.
Your website is a great place to start providing actual value to your clients. You are the expert in your field. Start acting like it on your website. Write a blog that answers questions. Create a podcast. Start a video series that helps clients. Create content and host it on your site. This builds your credibility in the marketplace. It shows that you are willing to give first.
In addition, it’s the place where you can not only sell your service, but also have offers that allow customers to give you their contact information so you can build that audience you own.
Takeaway: Create a website that really tells your story and acts as a business-builder for your company.
Put It In Writing
We have all heard prognosticators tell us “print is dead.” But a funny thing happened when nearly everything shut down during the pandemic: Businesses needed an affordable way to tell their story and promote their business, so they turned to print and direct mail. Social media is a great way to promote your organization. But I don’t recommend abandoning all other forms of marketing. If Facebook goes away, you will still need to tell your story—and do it affordably. That is when you might want to turn to print.
And here’s the thing, with many of your competitors moving away from print, it might be a great time to get valuable attention in that same place.
Takeaway: Don’t forget about print to tell your story, today and in the future.
So, what can you do if Facebook and Instagram goes away? How will you market your organization and tell your story. These are just a few ways you can still stand out. And if they work then, it might be time to start implementing these strategies right now.
A version of this article originally appeared on Hasseman Marketing.
Kirby Hasseman is an entrepreneur, author and owner of Hasseman Marketing, a full-service agency distributor in Coshocton, Ohio. Hasseman is also a prolific content creator. He hosts a weekly web show called Delivering Marketing Joy, creates a personal development video called The Monday Minute and hosts a podcast called Promo UpFront each Friday with Bill Petrie. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.