After I sold my drycleaning shops, I moved into consulting with drycleaners. While building my consulting business, an opportunity arrived unexpectedly, I had found an opportunity to receive large amounts of government surplus computers and sell them to a training center teaching people to refurbish and upgrade computers. I became a partner in a sideline business, an ewaste recycling business.
The ewaste business grew rapidly; it wasn’t long before the supply of used computers outstripped what the refurbishment center could process. There were mountains of parts and whole computers that were still usable, so I opened an Ebay store to sell off what the refurbishment center could not process.
Ebay was a great sales tool, for a while. Soon enough, Ebay began changing the rules, taking away a business’ ability to leave negative feedback on customers that were just bad news; then Ebay began to demand that sellers maintain nearly impossible levels of service, money back guarantees that were tipped strongly in favor of the customers, and more. It became more and more difficult to conduct business, and if you did not follow the rules, your store was removed from Ebay. Worst of all, the prices Ebay was charging kept going up, and up, and up. In my opinion, the rules had become too restrictive, and I began to shop around for an alternative avenue to sell used computers and equipment.
For the past year and a half, Facebook has been making changes to business pages, cutting the organic reach of your content to ever smaller and smaller numbers. Today only six percent of your page’s fan base may be seeing what you post at any given time, if your post is seen at all. Yes, some posts can result in reach being reduced to absolute zero. Or worse, if you continue to post content that violates Facebook’s rules, your page can be put in Facebook jail. And if you continue to violate Facebook’s rules, your page can be removed and banned from Facebook entirely. With all the changes in policy Facebook has done, many businesses users are frustrated and are looking for alternatives.
While my Ebay store continued to generate sales, I signed up on a couple of alternative systems. It was a lot more work administering and listing items on multiple ecommerce platforms. I cloned my existing ebay store inventory so every store had identical offerings.
Over a period of six months, I began to notice a trend. It was readily apparent that ebay was generating million and millions of page views per day, and had millions of users registered on their platform, while the alternative systems were struggling to generate thousands of page views and had limited success in registering users. My ebay store continued to generate regular daily sales, while the alternatives to ebay had made only two sales. I quickly drew the conclusion that ebay, despite all the new rules and ever increasing costs, had a lock on traffic, and most of all, buyers. There was no real advantage to using alternatives because in terms of sales, I simply had to resign myself to the fact that if I wanted to sell inventory, I had to be where the traffic and buyers were,
Today, Facebook’s social media platform has 1.39 BILLION monthly active users. The second place social media platform has 540 million active users. Moving your social media activities to an alternative platform immediately cuts your exposure by over 50 percent, and based on my experience with ebay, any cuts in exposure will cut your ability to generate new customers (and sales) by the same amount (or even worse).
Turning your back on Facebook’s massive user base could be one of the biggest mistakes you could make. Consider any changes or moves to alternatives carefully. Certainly, one can sit on multiple social media channels, but doing so also increases the amount of time you spend away from your business. It takes time to monitor and create content for multiple social media channels, it may make more sense to spend that time focusing on your quality and service than sitting in front of a computer screen.
When it comes to promoting your business, you simply HAVE to be WHERE the people are. You can’t ignore the sheer numbers of eyeballs Facebook has a lock on. Even with all the rule changes, the opportunities outnumber the inconveniences.