“We are willing enough to praise freedom when she is safely tucked away in the past and cannot be a nuisance. In the present, amidst dangers whose outcome we cannot foresee, we get nervous about her, and admit censorship.”
~ E. M. Forster
That was the title of a recent email I wrote to my list… In which I talked about a couple of friends and acquaintances who had recently been de-platformed from LinkedIn for no clear reason along with the story of another acquaintance whose private Facebook group was invaded by advertisement and ‘sponsored posts’ from her competitors.
My point for sharing these stories is not to dispute the right of these platforms to use their property as they choose: even though both the friends I talked about actually pay for the privilege of using LinkedIn… It’s to encourage my readers to protect your assets and take control of your list – especially if you are running a coaching or mentoring group.
Last week a friend told me about how they were kicked off Facebook and had no way of communicating with their coaching members. Fortunately, they had set up another administrator for the group who was able to explain what had happened… Even more fortunately, my friend was reinstated within a week, but it was a nervous few days.
Who ‘Owns’ Your List?
It doesn’t matter how many connections you have on LinkedIn or Facebook if the only place you can connect to them is via those platforms. Just ask yourself, what would happen if you were kicked off tomorrow? Could you still get in touch with your community?
For most people, the answer is, “No.”
On Facebook and Twitter, the process of accessing your community members’ contact details is laborious, and even on LinkedIn (where you can download a list of contacts and details) the value of those details is somewhat limited as many people sign up with an emails address that they no longer check, or via a work address in a place they no longer work.
This means that if you were excluded from the platform all those connections you worked so hard to build are lost.
You Have Strategically Invited Them into Your Homebase!
Your home base may be an email list, your own subscriber list, a proprietary app, a membership site, a forum you own, or… one of the many places where you can invite, exclude, and communicate with your community at will. Ideally, your goal should be to create links between these locations so that you always have options – the Insurance Policy approach.
One of my mentors, Ben Settle, talks about this as media stacking and he often uses the late Randolph William Hearst as an example of this. Hearst was able to use his newspapers, magazines, film studios, and many other assets to cross-promote his ventures and keep them front -of-mind. Rupert Murdoch, the Australian media mogul has done something similar – it doesn’t matter if you agree with his perspective and choices or not, you have to appreciate his strategic approach to media ownership and use and the way he has used it as a vehicle for putting forward his point-of-view.
About the Insurance Policy Approach
I’ve been talking about ways to build your list and create links and cross-overs between your platforms in my daily audio cast for my clients. The thing that has surprised me most is just how many ways there are to do and how quickly you can grow both the number of members and strength of connections between community members this once you start thinking about it. As a side-benefit, because your community isn’t merely strengthening it’s bonds with you, but is also strengthening commonalities between members the power of your influence grows exponentially.
So here’s a quick “Business Building Health Stress Test”:
- How many ways do you have to communicate with your audience that YOU control?
- How may media are using to shape your community’s vision?
- How vulnerable are you to shutdown or cancellation?
The time to think about threats is before they occur, while you can still do something about them, not after they have wiped out your business.