Best for Business? Online Small Business in the Social Media Age

In mid-March 2019, Facebook experienced a huge outage that also affected Meta’s other apps, Instagram and WhatsApp. For several hours, these social media channels were down. People took to Twitter, using hashtags #FacebookDown and #InstagramDown to express concern. There were over 12,000 reports on DownDetector.com from users unable to use the platforms. Facebook, which makes over $1 billion in ad revenue per quarter, failed to run campaigns, which led to some businesses expressing their frustration about losing potential leads. People were unable to do live sessions, send messages, and had trouble posting on Instagram.

Thinking Twice and Being Careful

The ability to connect with others online on a worldwide scale has allowed many to create internet-based businesses. Social media has made communication easier, and altered the reach and speed of word of mouth. Using one or two platforms makes organization and management easier and some apps host several helpful features. An up-and-coming app called Collide gives an alternative to influencers who want to offer all of their services on one single platform— they can charge their followers for messaging, calls, blog posts, videos, and manage subscriptions all in one app.

But there’s big risk in depending on social media so heavily. If you message your team the same place you post videos, the recent Facebook outage is proof of how dicey that can be. Large conglomerates like Facebook and Google provide useful tools, but they purposely make it seem like they’re the only options out there. By now, we know that they profit from selling user information to other companies, but we’re never fully aware of the extent to which they do, and how they do it. What’s more, Facebook’s and Instagram’s algorithms are constantly changing. It’s challenging to stay up to date with when and how consumers see your posts. Businesses also have to adapt to other changes on the platform over time, like new features added or old ones being removed. So, while it may seem like we have complete control over our content, we’re instead subject to what the owners of these platforms want to do with it. YouTube’s increasing changes are making it harder for creators to earn money, such as the recent rule to have at least 10,000 subscribers to be qualified to display ads in videos. The platform’s recent ban on comments on videos of children (to prevent pedophilic behaviour) is particularly affecting channels like SBSK, who interview children with disabilities.

There Are Other Options

We aren’t limited to only using Facebook, Instagram, Google, and Twitter. There are smaller, more niche applications. Some of them prioritize security and privacy, like Telegram, a messenger app that heavily encrypts texts and enables group chats of up to 200,000 users. This may be ideal for communicating with fellow employees as documents can also be shared on the platform. There’s also DuckDuckGo, a browser which, unlike Chrome, lets you know which websites track you and permits data to be deleted immediately. This can be useful for an entrepreneur who wants an additional internet security measure for their business. For those who get paid to answer followers’ questions, there’s a new social app called Worthyt where donors pay a fee to ask a question. 

Diversifying Your Marketing Strategy

Include methods other than online ads to expand your marketing strategy. This will help lessen the impact when another issue comes up that may impact your visibility. A newsletter and a website are platforms that you own, that still work to generate leads. Consider the fact that people, especially Generation Z, are quitting social media more and more. Use offline marketing tactics such as print advertising, attending events, tabling at conventions, or even creating incentives for client referrals to help expand your business.

 Joséphine Mwanvua | Contributing Writer



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