Freedom from platforms - No this is not about digital detox
Enough has been written about digital detox and our need for moderating screentime. I want to talk about reliance on social media platforms for our growth.
A small story. My wife started a company to train dentists and upskill themselves. She reached out to a marketing consultant and after some discussions, they decided to have a Facebook page and run some campaigns, to spread the word out. The initial weeks of the campaign went on really well. The Facebook page had many likes and subscribers. People were asking about the courses and it was awesome.
Suddenly, a company from the U.S, mailed to my wife, saying the company's brand name is somewhat similar to my wife's Facebook page name. My wife's company was Medsparks and the US company's name was Med Spark. We realised, they are a big company and it's futile to fight. So she changed the name of the company to Lumio Academy. All branding and marketing collaterals were updated and the campaigns resumed in full swing. She conducted many workshops, courses and the brand was popular among the dentists in Chennai, India. All of this was done only through ads on the Facebook platform.
I was skeptical about this social media based selling but I was surprised at the way the customers were growing and engaging with her.
But something huge happened that made me tell, "I told you so".
After six months or so, we got a mail from the company saying that the Facebook page's handle was still the old name. (Facebook allows you to have a page name and a handle name. Page name can be changed easily at anytime but not the handle name). We explained saying that we cannot change that on our own, we have raised a request to Facebook and they are not replying to the query. The lawyers of the company were aggressive and demanding we act soon. We were simply waiting for Facebook to reply back. (Facebook sucks in these critical things 😡)
Suddenly one day, my wife got a mail from Facebook saying the page is a copyright violation and it was taken down. It further went on and said, get the consent of the company's legal team to bring the page back. Apparently, the legal team complained about the page's handle name being similar to their brand and Facebook decided to shut down the page, even before hearing out the other side. We reached the support team and some friend who worked there to help us out but in vain.
It was then I realised, all the money spent on acquiring customers (page like, subscribers and brand visibility) vanished in seconds because of our reliance on a platform like Facebook. She didn't have the phone number or email or name of the customers acquired so far. We should have put on efforts in acquiring the customers through Facebook but not depend on the platform completely.
The talks of email being dead and Slack (or any other alternative) is the future sounds like bull shit to me.
Email is the most powerful and resilient technology that the Internet has given to us. A website is the true real estate on the Internet. Not a Facebook page or a Twitter handle or a Medium account or an Instagram account.
This is not a Luddite cry to stay away from them. All these platforms have different incentives than ours. Their business models are being experimented based on market changes and various stakeholders. We need to use these platforms to catalyse the growth but not fully rely on them.
Spend money in Facebook or Google ads, but getting your customers details like email or phone number to build a relationship with them is extremely important. WhatsApp number or a SnapChat handle might look very sexy, but through that, build a relationship with customers, but don’t rely only on that.
We should all be using these platforms to fuel our growth, but we all need to rely on the tried and tested technologies to build businesses and relationships with customers.