Facebook News Ban Poses Risk for Businesses Dependent on the Platform

Industry News

Putting all your eggs in one basket has always been a risky business manoeuvre and after Facebook’s recent decision to temporarily block Australians from accessing news pages on the platform, it’s now the perfect time to evaluate your marketing and content strategy. 

In a stand-off with the Australian Government over the proposed news media bargaining code, these actions by Facebook shocked the country. Although the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, has said Facebook will restore news to Australians,  this shows that large social media companies have the power to remove your content from their platform without warning. 

Social media provides thousands of businesses with easy-to-use marketing and content distribution tools but recent events have shown the risks of using an independent third party to disseminate your content. Although there are upsides to using these platforms, there are associated risks that can be minimised by diversifying your channels. 

Your Marketing Plan Could be in Danger 

Your business may be at risk of losing its audience if it has become too reliant on one channel, and this risk varies depending on the channel being used. For a social media site, the risk is a lot higher than a privately owned website, as third-party company has complete control over what can and can’t be posted.  

Mitch Hills, Director of Mastered Marketingsays businesses should be aware that they don’t own any of their social media traffic and are at the mercy of the companies who own these sites 

“You don’t actually own it [traffic] and even though it seems like you do, the big companies are in control and if something changes, gets banned or removed from your country, you have to start all over again. 

“There’s traffic that you own and there’s traffic that you leverage and Facebook and Instagram are sites that you use but you don’t actually own it and you’re at the mercy of these big companies.”  

The recent measures put in place by Facebook are unprecedented and shows the amount of power that these social media companies have over their website.  

“The minute it goes down, you’re in trouble,” says Hills.  

“If you only have one platform and all of a sudden, it’s gone, it’s terrible, it’s catastrophic. 

“Big companies usually have more than one platform and they won’t be completely destroyed by losing their social media but they would still be hit hard.”  

Although the Facebook ban may not be permanent and is only meant to impact news organisations, it affected many small businesses that rely on the platform to spread information. Facebook justified their actions of blocking non-news pages to the ABC due to the proposed law having a broad definition of ‘news’. This is why it’s important to do the right things to protect your business from potential disaster.  

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Diversifying Your Channels Can Minimise Risk and Grow Your Audience 

One of the most effective methods of minimising the risks associated with using social media sites is diversifying your channels and broadening your reach. By doing this, you’ll not only lower the risk of losing your audience, but your business will be able to grow its followers and become more skilled at producing a wider variety of content.  

“Having multiple streams of marketing is like having multiple streams of revenue for your business,” says Hills. 

“Diversifying your channels means two things, you will lower the risk and reach more customers.”  

According to Hills, one of the most effective methods of doing this is to build your own database. This involves gathering and collecting information to establish direct contact with your customers in a way that is valuable and relevant to them.  

Before implementing data collection software, it’s important to ensure that you can satisfy the requirements under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). Additionally, marketers need to be aware of the responsibilities set out in the Spam Act 2003 (Cth), as permission is required from every person who receives your marketing content.  

Once customer data has been collected, Electronic Direct Mail (EDM) is an incredibility effective tool that can grow your business by sending content directly to your customers. For example, by sending a newsletter with links to your own website, you have the ability to increase traffic to the site that you own, rather than relying on an independent third party.  

“It’s important to collect emails if you can and it’s even better if you can send people to your website because you can retarget your audience and you have traffic that you own,” Hills says.  

“In a perfect world, you’ve got web traffic and emails and that’s the best thing but if you can’t do that, diversifying your channels is a great way to do it [reduce risk].”  

Success in marketing is not automatic and it’s important to understand this, otherwise, your content may be unsustainable in the long term.  

“You need to learn how to build an audience on different channels… You need to ask yourself – what can I realistically sustain and execute so I can actually build a following?”