Greek philosopher Heraclitus was stating the obvious when he said “Change is the only constant in life”. So, intellectually, we know that to be true. But that doesn’t change the fact that, as small business owners, we’re sometimes forced to shift a bit sooner than we’d like. And over the past years, our marketing strategies have particularly suffered from disruptive changes on social media.
Summer 2022, in particular, has seen huge changes to Instagram, which have caused a lot of stress for business owners and content creators alike. The platform’s plans to move from a photosharing app to becoming TikTok for grown-ups seems not just desperate (copying your competition is not the way to stand out in a busy market) but has thrown a huge spanner in the works for many. While some changes appear to be being rolled back due to backlash, the uncertainty is real.
So, what do you do? Deleting the offending app might be the most attractive course of action at the moment! But we all know that long term, that isn’t the solution. In this post, I’ll explore how to handle changes on social media when you’re running a small business.
Always expect change
One of the biggest triggers of overwhelm is when something catches us off guard. Most business owners like to be in total control at all times! And sadly, when dealing with technology and third-party sites, that just isn’t possible.
So before we delve into the specifics, it’s important to stress that expecting the unexpected isn’t just sensible. It’s essential! Over time, all websites and apps will evolve. In some cases, this won’t impact how we use it day to day. But in many others, it will. Being mentally prepared for the fact that changes on social media will happen, whether we like them or not, is vital!
Adapt, don’t abandon!
When things appear to be changing, it’s common for people to fall into one of two camps:
- They dig their heels in and refuse to change their strategy; or…
- They jump head first into a new approach, abandoning everything they did before.
Both of these decisions are driven by fear. And that’s natural! But neither of these options is going to help your business continue to thrive during these changes.
As for point one, change is inevitable and fighting it is futile. So the best thing you can do is find your own ways to embrace new strategies. That doesn’t mean filming a viral dance challenge for the sake of it! But it does mean that if you’ve tended to stick to photos only, and video is proving to perform better, refusing to adapt will put you at a disadvantage. So test the water with a quick behind-the-scenes video, or an Instagram Reel showing off one of your products. You don’t even have to appear on camera!
However, these new approaches should add to your existing strategy in the beginning – not replace it. The platform might prefer a shiny new feature, but your audience has been used to a certain type of content from you. Switching that over entirely can be extremely jarring. So take your time to explore and adapt.
Also, as we’ve seen with Instagram, sufficient backlash from users can sometimes cause app developers to rethink their decisions. Changes on social media aren’t always permanent. Don’t immediately throw away a successful strategy! Carry on with what has been working for you, while testing new approaches.
Diversify your marketing strategy
We all know the old saying “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. It’s important in most areas of business, and life. But when it comes to marketing, it’s absolutely crucial. Losing access to a valuable audience is extremely difficult. So do your best to make sure your audience isn’t only in one place.
I’ve said many times before that there’s no need to be “everywhere” online. Don’t waste time on a TikTok account if it doesn’t suit your business! But chances are, your customers will be present across more than one digital platform. To lessen the stress changes on social media can cause, be sure to diversify.
Building up a steady following on LinkedIn as well as Facebook, for example, spreads your net out that bit wider. Ensuring that you’re putting effort into both means that in the event that Facebook is no longer a viable option, all is not lost! If you’ve been engaging with your network regularly on LinkedIn, you can build on that.
And be sure to let your audience on one platform know that they can also find you on the other! That way they’ll hopefully follow you on both, giving you an added layer of security if one platform goes down.
Prioritise your own website and mailing list
Over the last decade, more and more businesses have found success through their social media presence. Whether it’s through tweeting all day every day or sharing beautiful content on Instagram, these platforms have been game-changing. But as third-party apps, the basic fact of the matter is that we don’t own them. So relying on them for the majority of our income is a risky move.
Disruption from major changes on social media is bad enough. But the reality is, that it’s even possible to lose access to accounts. Many businesses have been faced with the devastating results of a hacked account or blocked login. Growing your following to 100,000 only to lose access to Instagram and never recover it is a massive blow to any thriving business.
So above all else, prioritise your own website and mailing list. Building a presence that you are in complete control of means that when these changes do happen, it isn’t the end of the world. Focus on creating an SEO-optimised website, that people can find you on via search engines, social media or offline sources such as your business cards and flyers.
And make sure that across all of your accounts, you regularly link to your mailing list. Encouraging people from every platform to subscribe is so important. That way, no matter what happens, you’ll never lose access to your current and prospective customers!
If you are interested in reading more about this topic, have a look at these:
4 Types of Social Media Content You Should Focus On
Tailoring Social Media Content to your Chosen Platforms
How to Avoid Social Media Overwhelm as a Small Business Owner
Social Media Timing – An Alternative Guide for Small Businesses