Facebook is making life increasingly pay-to-play for marketers.
Google+ rolls out ads.
Twitter adds promoted accounts to the timeline.
LinkedIn rolls out sponsored posts.
Instagram rolls out ads.
Pinterest rolls out promoted pins.
Seeing a trend here? You should be. The social networks, having acquired their audiences, are now seeking to monetize their audiences, and if you don’t have wheelbarrows full of money to bring to the table, your seat at the table will be given to someone else who does. That’s life, and that’s entirely within their rights.
Repeat this maxim frequently: You own nothing in social media.
That Facebook Page? That Twitter profile? That Google+ account? You own none of it. Zero. Nada. These services are not public utilities. They are not endowed rights. They are private companies that provide fallible, owned services to us and in most cases, they do so at little cost to us. As such they can vanish at any time, temporarily or permanently, and we have little to no recourse. All of the hours and money you’ve invested in that Page, profile, or account can evaporate instantly. Ask anyone who dumped $50,000 into their MySpace profile how they feel about it now.
If all of the recent changes are making you feel uncomfortable about your social media future, I will suggest this very basic advice: you need a social media insurance policy. You need something that will future-proof you, that will provide you connectivity to your audience in case of failure, or worse, in case your favorite social network becomes too successful for you. That social media insurance policy is your email list. Start building an email list now from your social media audience. Encourage your followers / friends / fans / connections to sign up for your mailing list and then send them reminders via email of why you’re connected with them.
When the day comes that your favorite social media service sunsets, kicks you off, prices you out of the game, or just flat out fails at a mission critical time, you can take comfort in being able to hit the send button and circumvent the social system failure.
Put a reminder on your calendar to ask every week, once a week, for your various audiences to subscribe to your mailing list. Give them good reason to by publishing an interesting email to them, but start building your email list as a social media insurance policy today. It’s the only thing you truly own, it’s the only thing that will help you stay in touch as you join new networks, and it’s the only thing that will let you get back in touch with your fans once your favorite social network decides you’re not wealthy enough for it any more.
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