Facebook. Instagram. YouTube. Twitter.
These platforms are great for promoting businesses. They help amplify a company’s message and reach audiences where they spend much of their time online.
But there’s a dark side to these platforms. They control what people see, filtering content based on secret algorithms.
Ultimately, social media platforms stand between a business and its customers. Let’s look at what this means to you as a business owner, and how owning your own domain can help mitigate the problems.
The Facebook Example
Facebook started as a social media network for people to interact with each other. In 2007, after over 100,000 companies signed up to use Facebook, the growing social media giant introduced business pages. These pages allow businesses to showcase new products, make announcements, and respond to customer feedback.
Business pages were a goldmine for businesses back then. They could post an update or announcement and boom: it was inserted into fans’ newsfeeds for them to see.
Businesses focused on getting people to ‘like’ their company on Facebook. Many companies spent money advertising their Facebook presence, sometimes eschewing promoting their own website in favor of telling people to follow them on Facebook.
In 2009, Facebook introduced the concept of sorting the newsfeed by popularity instead of showing every post in reverse chronological order. Suddenly, those posts on business pages weren’t always shown to Facebook users. Over time, Facebook further reduced how often it showed content from business pages in users’ feeds.
Businesses that want to get their posts in front of more people who have already liked their page now have to pay Facebook to do so. They can pay to “boost” their posts to people who already follow them.
Facebook’s goal is to make money, so the shift shouldn’t have been surprising. But it was a blow to businesses that invested heavily in building an audience on Facebook. These businesses paid once to build the audience but have to continually pay to reach that same audience.
The Platform Intermediaries
Facebook and other social media platforms aim to maximize the time people spend on their sites and generate the most advertising revenue for their own companies.
Whenever a business publishes content on a social media platform, it creates free content for that platform that the social media companies can use to sell ads against.
What this means is that the goal of each social media platform is contrary to your goal as a business. When you build an audience on a social media network, you want those fans to see your content, not someone else’s.
Yet these platforms want to intermediate what people see on the web. They profit by sticking themselves in the middle.
Your Business Must Own Its Web Presence
Businesses need a way to control their relationships with their customers—how they present themselves, how they communicate with the customers, and what products or services they display. Businesses should not let a social media platform get in the way of their relationships.
And the way to own those relationships is to have a website and domain name.
The web was created so that anyone could interact with any content. A domain name points to the same content, regardless of where and how someone visits the domain. It doesn’t matter where someone is in the world, what type of device they’re using, or the browser they choose. Each unique domain points to just one website and shows it how the business wants it to be shown.
This concept has democratized the web, letting small businesses and individuals get their message out just like big businesses and governments.
This isn’t to say that businesses should ignore social media. These platforms can be a great complement to an existing website.
Instead of driving fans to social media accounts, businesses should use social media as a means to drive fans to their website.
Get Your Online Presence Today
If you don’t already have your own domain and website, there’s no time like the present to get started! You can register your domain and choose from a number of options for hosting your website with Namecheap. And we even have a great guide on how to get started with your first website.