Shadowbans and Algorithms: Surviving Social Media As A Small Business Owner

If you have spent any time on social media the last couple of weeks you have probably heard some buzz around Instragram and "shadowbans". I am not in very many Facebook groups but the few I am in, there has been lots of questions and some business owners are in a down right panic about the drop in their Instagram engagement. Of course there is always chatter about Facebook's constant changes to its algorithm. 

Call me weird, but I always see changes like this as a good thing. Yes, I too am affected as an online business owner and I get it. Just when I have a list of awesome hashtags and start to gain some momentum on Instagram, I check a post and yep, its been banned or I start to see some higher organic reach and engagement on a fan page post and then all of sudden poof its crickets and my next post reaches 6 people (out of 2300). Talk about frustrating, right? 

Like I said, I get it. I too am having to keep up with a race I feel like I am losing and rethink my strategy to keep up with the constant changes across the various social media platforms. 

While most business owners are quick to jump on the complain train about how these changes are affecting their business and whine about how social media is nothing more than a greedy monster trying to drain everyone's bank accounts to force entrepreneurs to pay-to-play, I see these changes as a good thing.  

As business owners we should be laser focused on one thing and one thing only: to provide value on a consistent basis that is relevant to a targeted audience and solves their urgent problems through creative content marketing strategies.

Instead of complaining about the changes and whining about the extra effort its going to take, it should push us to keep upping our content marketing game. As long as we are creating good, relevant, creative content on a consistent basis for our audience that solves a problem and is authentic we will organically grow our influence and our reach.

With billions of users, social media platforms have to work constantly to weed out the people that are not creating valuable content. What does this mean for those of us who do play by the rules? It means we may have to work a little harder and up our A-Game, but that is not a bad thing. Those who accept the challenge and continue to drill down their message and bust their tooshies to do a good job can leverage these changes to stand out in a very saturated marketplace. 

Facebook is tracking everything we do through its sophisticated algorithm. Every time you like a post, comment on a status or search for content, Facebook is tracking your every move to catalog where your interests are so it can show you more relevant content including from businesses and brands that are paying to have their content seen. 

Users who don't want to follow the rules and play the game of business the right way are of course being affected by the changes. Not sure what I mean by that? Let me put it to you in simple terms: if you are using a personal page to talk non-stop about your latest and greatest business opportunity and guilting your warm market into buying your products, for example, you are being affected by the algorithm. How? Facebook is killing your posts and they aren't being seen. 

I don't care if you are a small one woman show business owner or a Fortune 500 company, if you want to play the game of business and do it right you will need a Facebook business page and a marketing budget. Period. Trying to cheat the system to market for free just doesn't work anymore.

Instagram which is owned by Facebook is also moving in this direction. They are weeding out people who are constantly selling and spamming by killing their organic reach which to put it simply means those posts are not showing up in the newsfeed. 

So what is a small business owner do to? How can the solopreneur with a little to no budget for advertising possibly compete with so many constant changes and survive the world of social media?

• Have a clearly defined strategy for delivering creative value through content that selflessly inspires and solves problems for your audience on a consistent basis • 

Business Marketing 101 - You want to know where most marketers are royally screwing up in their efforts to build online? Over selling and under delivering. Want to build influence? Want people to buy into what you are selling? You have to knock their socks off. You have to care more about their problems than you do your bank account and how many followers you have.

Give, give, give...ask for the sale.
Give, give, give some more...ask for the sale.
90% of marketers are getting this all wrong. They are asking for the sale, spamming, begging, asking for the sale and then throwing out a crumb of value expecting people to act like that was the greatest piece of advice EVER while waving their credit card frantically in the air.

Need an example of someone who successfully applies this marketing strategy? Marie Forleo

All year long Marie gives value through her blog and Marie TV. Q&A Tuesday videos that are turned into blog posts, shared on her fan page and tweeted out to her Twitter followers. Instagram highlights her quotes and behind the scenes of her personal and professional life to connect with her audience on a more intimate level. She brings on guests like Danielle LaPorte and Tony Robbins to give even more incredible over the top value to her audience. 

All year Marie gives consistent value driven content that leads up to a ONE time per year major product launch where she asks her audience to invest in her when enrollment for B School opens. All throughout the year she is cultivating relationships, loving on her followers, responding to comments on her fan page, building her influence and gaining the trust of potential clients and year after year her and her team reap the rewards of a successful B School campaign. 

Coincidence? Hardly. Its a highly effective marketing funnel and strategy. When enough value is given, people will buy what you are selling. 

Surviving the world of social media as a business owner doesn't have to be overwhelming. Here are some social media strategies you can leverage more to deliver the type of value your audience is craving that will lead them directly to doing business with you:

Facebook Fan Page. Build your business the right way. Get off your personal page where your sales tactics have over stayed their welcome marketing to the wrong people and create a business page where the right people can actually find you. A business page is indexed by Google, a personal page is not. Get back to being social on your personal page and figure out what kind of budget you have to market the content on your fan page. 

Do a Facebook Live video once a week where you spend 10 minutes giving a ton of value for your audience. Its FREE and Facebook has a huge love affair with videos. Push your creative limits. Think outside the box and stay consistent. You can't expect to do one video and throw in the towel because only 5 people watched. Commit to a weekly schedule.

Write a blog post or a free guide and share it on your fan page and boost it for $10 or $15. Put a lot of thought into it, don't just slap something together. Think about what your audience really needs and work hard to put together something that will blow them away. 

Share your story and other relevant content from trustworthy resources, inspirational quotes and fun videos that will inspire and entertain your followers. 

Need more ideas for Facebook? Check out How To Rock Out Your Business and Brand Using Only Facebook

Instagram. Create a whimsical lifestyle account or a fun behind the scenes as a blogger and business owner where your network can get to know you. With Instagram you have to think STELLAR photography. You can use your own or curate from other accounts (always, always give proper credit). Again, the focus is on great photos that tell a story and you can build on the photo with your post. 

Use Instagram stories to give your audience a sneak peak of behind the scenes. Be real and authentic.

Need more ideas for Instagram? Check out 10 Creative Content Ideas For Instagram

Pinterest. The place to be if you are a blogger. Rock out an awesome blog post once a week and pin it to a blogging board on your account. If you love graphic design, create quote cards or infographics that summarizes the content in the blog post. If you are a food blogger, create recipe cards to go with the blog post and pin them. If you are a beauty blogger, create DIY graphics in Canva and pin them to a DIY board. 

Need more ideas for Pinterest? Check out How to Rock Out Your Brand And Blog Using Only Pinterest

YouTube. If you love to create videos, YouTube will be your BFF. Record a series or a 10 day challenge for your audience. You can embed them into your blog posts and pin to Pinterest allowing you to use the content you created in multiple ways. 

Need tips for getting started on YouTube? Check out How To Get Started On YouTube

Twitter. Stay on top of trending stories and content and strategically share your content around those trending stories and hashtags. 

Want more tips for using Twitter? Check out 4 Ways To Grow A Twitter Following That Matters

The bottom line is that as a business owner you will need to work diligently every day to create and give value. Not once a week, not a couple of times a month. Every. Single. Day. Entrepreneurship is a hard core business model. I don't care how many people you see posting selfies beachside with a MackBook and holding a fu-fu drink with an umbrella swimming in it. Common sense tells us if were that easy everyone would be doing it. 

The business owners that are navigating the world of social media successfully are the ones who have developed a system for their business, like a fine oiled machine, and are committed to following it on a consistent basis while working hard to master their craft and push their creativity daily. 

They aren't looking for the easy way or for short cuts. They aren't trying to run a business from a personal Facebook page. They aren't rolling their eyes and complaining every time Instagram makes a change. Instead they are rolling with the punches and figuring it out.

They aren't whining about having to spend money to get their brand and business in front of people. They know it takes money to make money. They put more effort into taking the action and less on how many new followers their Instagram account acquired in a 24 hour period because they know their hard work will pay off with grit and patience.

The world of social media is ruining our perception of what business ownership really looks like in order to sell programs, books, products, services and opportunities.

In my 16 years of being on this journey I have never left the trenches of my business. Never. I have had to get comfortable with falling down and eating dirt many times over to reach the finish line. I have had to stay up late to get my personal development in for the day. I have had to swallow my pride and agree with my husband when he says my priorities are out of whack and I am obsessing over my work. I have dealt with mommy guilt. This journey has never been work-poolside-for-2 hours-from-a-smartphone easy.

The next time you find yourself irritated about a new social media update instead of complaining about it, ask yourself how you can use it to your advantage. While everyone else spends the next week in a Facebook group moaning about the lack of engagement on their last 3 Instagram posts, be the one who digs in to learn more about the changes and takes action ASAP to deliver 5x's the value and creativity because no one is attracted to the person sitting around complaining about how greedy Facebook is for wanting businesses to pay for ads. 

Be the savvy chick who rises above and stands out with a solution, the wavemaker who is proving that change is a good thing. Be the trendsetter who is paving a path for others to follow because that is who people aspire and look up to. Yes, be THAT girl xo

April Williams is the #CreativeMomista of two boys • Storyteller • Coffee Addict • Woman Warrior Of God • Texas Country Girl • Creative Expressive • A vintage soul passionate about living a simple life with a modern approach to business and branding

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