So last week Facebook announced a big algorithm change. As the BBC reported: Facebook is to change how its news feed works, making posts from businesses, brands and media less prominent.
Mark Zuckerberg wants more engagement between people. He's quoted in the BBC article as saying: "We've gotten feedback from our community that public content - posts from businesses, brands and media - is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other."
Ignoring the fact this announcement cost the Zuck $3.3 billion, this is a smart move by Facebook. It recognises the risk of any social media platform being a flash in the pan, and is trying very hard to make Facebook the default place we interact with our friends for years to come.
It also means Facebook ads will become the only way to guarantee people see your stuff on Facebook. KER-CHING.
But what does it mean for your MSP?
If you rely on Facebook to reach your audience, erm... you're screwed.
This reminds me of what happened a few years ago when Google made a dramatic change to its algorithms (they reduced the number of listings, focused more on the maps, and hid the adverts in plain sight).
Those businesses that relied heavily on organic traffic from Google got hit badly. In some cases, literally overnight.
Traffic dropped, so prospect enquiries fell off and the sales pipeline dried up. Which had a direct effect on overall net profitability.
It's going to happen again to businesses that rely on Facebook.
I've been saying this for years and I'll keep beating the drum... You need to build and control your own audience
Your audience is the people you talk to on a regular basis. The people who are likely to go on to become prospects and therefore clients.
You're in my audience (thank you). I email 1,041 owners and managers of IT support businesses every week.
Sure I use Facebook as part of reaching that audience, but I don't rely on it. Instead I've worked very hard to get every single one of those 1,041 people to choose to opt into my marketing.
I have an email address for each person, and a phone number and physical address for most of them.
That data is held in my platform of choice (a CRM called Infusionsoft). But I own the data. If I fall out with Infusionsoft tomorrow, I can move my audience to a different platform.
It means I am not affected by any changes made by Google and Facebook.
I control my own distribution.
You need to get your business into this position. It's a powerful place to be.
Google and Facebook still have enormous value. They give you access to people you've not yet met. Increasingly you will have to pay to get this traffic (Google AdWords and Facebook ads).
But the more control you have over the distribution of your marketing message, the better.
PS I found this cartoon about Facebook very amusing (fruity language warning).
PPS I'm running an MSP Marketing / MSP Marketing seminar this week and again in February. Building your own audience will be a big part of what we talk about.
PPPS I also have a monthly toolkit full of content to help you build and warm up your own audience. See if your area is still available for the MSP Marketing Edge.