Five Facebook Alternatives for Small Business Owners
Facebook may be a great tool to present and promote your business, but recent events surrounding Facebook show you should not depend wholly on one platform to present your business online. Let’s look at some Facebook alternatives for you as a business owner. Feel free to share and comment on the list below.
On October 4, Facebook went down for an entire day. That is to say, the entire Facebook ecosystem went down for the day: Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, even the Facebook campus. Just about anything owned and operated by this giant company was offline. Competitors jumped on the opportunity to lead users to Facebook alternatives, of course. Twitter invited people to their platform and Tik Tok enjoyed a bonus uptick to their already growing traffic. The outage was one of the top stories of that week along with the other Facebook-related story about the company’s knowledge of the dangers of its algorithm. About a week later, the platform went down again but for a much shorter period of time.
At the public level, it may have been easy to make light of the situation. But what if you are a small business dependent on Facebook? You could have had a promotion running at that time. And what if you are a small business whose digital presence exists only on the Facebook ecosystem? It’s difficult to believe this was a situation easy to laugh off. You of all people are probably now actively looking for alternatives to Facebook. Here are five of them.
A Facebook page may work to get you started. If you have a solid network and ask them to broadcast your new business when you first launch, it can be a fantastic resource. However, at the end of the day, that page belongs to Facebook. If Facebook goes down, so does your page. If the company suddenly decides to not support businesses in your industry, your page goes away. If they choose to flag your posts or ads as something that may be against their views, your posts and ads may go unseen. On the other hand, a website belongs to you and your business.
In the past, launching a website may have felt like a daunting task. You had to either know how to code or you would have to hire web design experts to put something together that could compete with the bigger companies in your industry. Today, that is no longer the case. Building a sharp, professional website is easier than ever thanks to sites like Wix, GoDaddy, and SquareSpace. These website builders provide you the necessary tools to create your own site using drag and drop methods with loads of templates. And if even that seems like too much, you can let their artificial intelligence (AI) builder put something together for you. All you have to do is answer some questions about your business and the goals for the website
Unlike Facebook, putting up your own website is not free. You do have to register a domain name and pay for the hosting of the website. This is usually done on an annual basis. But once you do, the site is yours and becomes your central place to do business. With a website in place, you can make adjustments to maximize traffic, this is known as Search Engine Optimization or SEO. While working to get Google to find your site, you can also register with Google My Business. This will help you get found when people search for your type of business in the specific city in which you work. You can also start a blog to keep the site dynamic and start building a following. Once you do acquire a following, it’s important to have email marketing established.
Much like the website, email marketing allows you to have complete control of your network of followers. As people sign up to receive updates about your products or services, you now have the ability to reach them with additional opportunities. If you sell products, you can give your network peeks at the testing and production of your latest product to create an early buzz. If you offer a service, you can send out special promotions for signing up. The key here, much like it is across social media platforms, is not to overdo it with the selling. Think of how many emails you get in your inbox each day. What do you tend to do with most of the emails clearly selling something? Today, the hard sell is likely to be ignored unless you send it to the right segment of people at the right time. When you get started with email marketing, work on creating content that adds value to your network. Think of a newsletter your crowd would appreciate and start that way. Here are a few examples:
Custom auto shop
Before and after shots of some of your work over the last month
Progress report on a personal car restoration project
Cars you spotted throughout the month
Examples of some of your customers’ haircuts
Tattoos of some of your customers
Profiles of the barbers at your shop
Beauty products store
Review of the fashion at a recent awards show
We’re now moving into other social media options that function much like Facebook. Remember the goal is not to eliminate social media but to diversify your digital footprint. Studies show that 55% of people first search for a product on Google and then turn to YouTube to learn more about that product and how it functions. Think of how many people over the last decade or so have mentioned they’ve learned new skills by watching YouTube. It’s a good idea for your business to be represented here.
YouTube is one of, if not the strongest Facebook advertising competitor. This is because so many people are creating and watching content on the platform. It has already changed the entertainment industry in many ways. Let’s look at late night shows as an example. Johnny Carson was the king of late night during his tenure on the Tonight Show. Today, there are several shows using the classic Tonight Show format but most people don’t watch them live. Instead, people flock to their respective YouTube channels to watch the segments that interest them.
Much like with email newsletters, your YouTube channel should focus on providing value to the viewers. Do not use your regular posts to do a hard sell. For that purpose, you are better off using YouTube ads to target potential customers ready to buy your product or request your service.
LinkedIn is the preeminent platform for professional networking. Does your business need to be on this platform? That depends exclusively on your target customer. If you provide a service for other businesses, then you should benefit from having a page on LinkedIn. You should also be on LinkedIn if you’re ready to expand your team. If, however, neither of these scenarios apply to you, this may not be the platform for you. Yes, you want to diversify and find alternatives to Facebook but you do not need to sign up for every platform out there. Find the ones that make sense for your business and find the most efficient way for you to update the ones you choose.
Much like LinkedIn, setting up a Yelp profile is largely dependent on your audience. Do you have a physical location? Is that location open to the public? If you answered yes to both questions, you should be on Yelp. And if you run a restaurant, you don’t exist if you don’t have a Yelp page.
The thing about Yelp is that if you do not set up your account, other Yelpers can do it without you. If you’ve been in business for a while, it’s possible you’re already on Yelp without knowing it. In that case, you will need to claim your business. Once verified, you’ll be able to clean it up, match up your branding, and engage with your customers.Yelp is also great for reputation management, as you can engage with users who leave reviews.
Of course, these are only five examples of small business alternatives to Facebook. When it comes to social media options, there are many platforms out there and the first question you should ask is if your target customers use the platform you are considering. But, if your business can currently only be found on Facebook, we highly encourage you to make a website.
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