You do everything youâ€™re supposed to do to market your business online. Youâ€™re running Facebook ads, youâ€™re on Twitter and Instagram, your new YouTube channel is taking off, and youâ€™ve hired a professional SEO company. Things are looking good. At least, for now.
Social media platforms are filled with the market youâ€™re trying to reach, but what if one day your market becomes out of reach?
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Building A Community Is The Only Way To Preserve Your Online Revenue
Relying on social media for income is risky
The ugly truth is that depending on social media platforms for your income is risky business. Thereâ€™s no guarantee the platform wonâ€™t filter your content, ban you, restrict you, or change the very features that make you successful. For example, Instagram is testing the idea of hiding the number of â€œlikesâ€ a piece of content receives from everyone but the content poster. They want people to focus on content, not popularity. This move makes sense for teens, but could spell financial disaster for businesses.
Advertisers often approach influencers based on public â€œlikeâ€ counts, so if this experiment becomes permanent, itâ€™s going to hurt some bank accounts.
Do you have control over your community?
Your ability to use social media to generate an income can change at any time. Weâ€™re seeing it right now with people being permanently banned from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and even Patreon. Those who never bothered to establish an independent community have lost a majority of their audience and will need to rebuild.
The only way to recover from lost income on social media is by having an independent community of your followers that remains within your control. This could be a simple email list, or it could be a membership site.
Many social media influencers who have been demonetized on YouTube, for example, have a members-only website where they offer exclusive content to paid members. They use software like Membership Works and integrate it right into their WordPress or Weebly sites. If you havenâ€™t been demonetized, thereâ€™s little incentive to create a membership site, but consider it an insurance policy against future social media decisions out of your control.
How an independent community supports your income
Having an independent community hosted off of social media gives you a safety net to fall back on if youâ€™re ever banned or demonetized, but it also gives you an unfair advantage. When youâ€™re in charge of the community, you can send real emails to your customers as part of a professionally crafted email marketing campaign. You can connect with them in a less hectic environment and communicate one-on-one.
When you control the community, you set all the rules for signups and pricing. Even if youâ€™ve been demonetized on YouTube, you donâ€™t need to make people choose between YouTube and your community. The idea is to offer something complimentary on your membership website â€“ something people canâ€™t get on YouTube, but not something that would make people stop watching you on YouTube. For instance, donâ€™t post teaser videos to YouTube and make people pay for the full content. Instead, post unique content to both platforms.
Turn your social media community into your email list
In the early days, prior to social media, businesses actively pursued lead generation and collected email addresses in a simple database for later use. Social media makes collecting email addresses seem cumbersome since everyone you want to contact is basically accessible all the time. Your social media community is your potential email list, but it only works when youâ€™re on someone elseâ€™s platform. If you donâ€™t have a way to contact your community outside of each social media platform, youâ€™re putting your business at risk.
Platform-based membership options wonâ€™t cut it forever
Once you reach 100,000 subscribers on YouTube, your viewers can pay $5 monthly to support you and gain access to members-only content, but that income could disappear at any moment.
The only safe way to preserve your ability to generate income from social media followers is to create content that makes people want to be part of your independent community. Even if all you do is collect email addresses and send out a newsletter, youâ€™ll have a goldmine in your pocket. You never know when platform changes will disrupt your cashflow.
Featured image source: Freepik