“If you choose to build your business on a platform someone else owns, that’s a choice that you are making. BUT… Don’t complain if they move the finish line!”
~ Debra Hilton
There is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch
If it sounds too good to be true… It probably is!
Google, Facebook, and the Australian Government are currently facing off over payment for publishing news on their platforms and making it accessible to non-subscribers. In the middle of February, Facebook’s response was to shut down all Australian news media sites and government ones. Along with their primary targets, they ‘accidentally’ blocked many business pages as well as news and government pages in retaliation for the Bill that is moving through Parliament – not just news sites, but also the Royal Melbourne Children’s Hospital, Kids for Cancer, and other NFP pages and health-related pages.
We have become so used to the ‘free lunch’ provided by social media sites, search engines, and other technology that I believe we assume that it’s our right to enjoy these things – rather than a privilege. Underlying all the furore last year about Facebook and privacy, there is an entitlement attitude that forgets that they have shareholders and are an openly For Profit Corporation.
They make their money through our data.
If we don’t like that we have a choice: leave. Set up our business and social networks elsewhere – even if we have to pay for them!
Otherwise, accept that the price of our ‘free’ interaction and publicity is our privacy.
Are You a Chess Player?
Every business owner should be looking ahead at potential threats and opportunities and trying to predict what might be on the horizon.
If you’re doing business in Australia, or living here you should be aware of the potential threats and you should also be taking aggressive action to avoid them.
Google seems to have come to terms with government demands (for the present), but Facebook hasn’t – and there is no guarantee about how long any solution will last. There are too many unknowns to make clear predictions, but good chess players are always looking several moves ahead and have multiple ‘If… Then’ options in mind. You should, too.
This is not the time to simply be doing what you’ve always done – even if you like the results you are getting.
Right now, you need an insurance policy – or two – maybe even three!
What’s Your Insurance Policy?
If you don’t own (= pay to use) a platform, you are at the mercy of the owner.
Some years ago, my friend had a $30k per month (USD) music instruction business which was shut down overnight as a result of a competitor complaining to YouTube.
No questions asked. No redress given.
He didn’t have an insurance policy – YouTube + PayPal was working just fine so he didn’t think he needed one. When he got things up and running again he still used YouTube, but he didn’t rely on it or run his business out of it. He also but in place multiple strands for every part so he had redundancy in every area.
You can complain about the unfairness of it all… Or you can take action to make sure you recover quickly if it should occur.
BECAUSE… It’s the price you pay to operate on a platform you don’t pay for (even if you are paying to advertise there).
NOTE: De-platforming still happens on paid platforms if your content is deemed to be controversial or hate-speech. The definitions of these terms are somewhat fluid, so factor that into your insurance policy too.
Even if you are totally inoffensive and confident that there is no reason why you should ever be de-platformed, have back-up systems. You’ll sleep better at night.
Who Controls Your Business?
Is it Facebook? Google? Employees? Banks? Suppliers? Family Members? Or… You?
NB: I’m not saying don’t USE these tools or platforms.
I am saying: Be Aware. Be Vigilant!
Since you’re running a business, act like it.
Ask the hard questions:
- What are you 100% dependent on?
- Whatever your answer to the question above – DIVERSIFY!
Remember that there are always options, although sometimes they aren’t obvious.
Here are a few common dependencies to start you thinking:
- Google Reviews;
- Facebook Groups and/or Advertising (contact addresses);
- Specific Employees (the only person who has all the IP in one or more areas);
- Income (if you’re spending everything you earn);
Anytime you think, “I could manage as long as X keeps working.” It’s time to think carefully about how you could replicate, support, and back up X.