We’ve seen some wild times in the world of social media. In January 2021, Twitter banned about 45,000 accounts, most notably that of United States President Donald Trump. Shortly thereafter, Apple and Google banned the social media app Parler from their respective app markets. Then again in late 2022, it happened again — this time on Instagram, and this time on accident. Instagram suspended numerous accounts for seemingly no reason. They did later acknowledge the issue and restore the accounts, but not before leaving their users in the lurch for a few days. While each of these companies was well within their rights to make these choices, the decisions have ignited a firestorm on social media about censorship and free speech. So what’s the solution? Don’t rely on another company for your only platform, but own one yourself instead.
What’s this all about?
It’s important for us to begin by mentioning that this post is in no way political. MPWR Design is a business, not a politically partisan organization. We’re not seeking to be pro- or anti-Donald Trump, pro- or anti-Twitter, pro- or anti-Parler, or pro- or anti-Instagram. Instead, this article seeks to bring attention to an issue that might be of interest to you and your business, especially now in light of what has recently transpired. That said, we can’t simply ignore what happened in the social media world a few times now.
As you likely already know, President Trump relied heavily on Twitter to communicate with his followers. He credited the platform and other social networks for helping him win the election in 2016. So when his account was suddenly suspended last week, the impact was great. And the following year, many other people saw their Instagram accounts suddenly suspended without notice.
Why does it matter to me?
As we said, we’re not a political organization and don’t wish to spark a political discussion. In fact, any comments of a political nature will be deleted, as this isn’t the platform for political debates.
Instead, we want you to consider the impact these decisions can have on your business. In the past, we’ve had clients who have had social media accounts temporarily suspended. Usually it’s due to a mistake from an algorithm, but those issues can happen. And given the fact that even an entire platform like Parler can be brought offline, it brings about bigger questions. What if you use a social media platform to promote your business and that platform is taken away — either because your account is suspended or the platform disappears altogether?
As the headline suggests, the answer is to own your own platform. Yes, President Trump’s Twitter account has been suspended, but his website lives on. Of course, he’s now created his own social network to have a social platform as well, but his following there pales in comparison to what he had on Twitter. When you rely on another platform, that’s a risk you take. However, when you own your own platform, there’s much less risk of having it taken away from you. Even though the risk of losing your social account is much less likely when you’re not a well-known celebrity with a large platform, always be ready for the possibility.
If you run a business entirely on another company’s platform, be it Facebook, Etsy, Amazon, eBay, Pinterest, or something else, you could not only have your platform taken away, but the company could change their rules. What if Facebook changes their algorithm and your page no longer gets any organic reach? What if Amazon creates a product to compete with yours and decides not to allow people to sell competing products? What if Etsy raises their commissions to make use of the platform unsustainable? Even if your platform isn’t taken away, the rules could change to force your hand.
What else can I do?
Obviously, we’re not suggesting anyone entirely refrain from social media. In fact, MPWR Design has social accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Social media is an important avenue for promoting your business and reaching new clientele, so we wouldn’t encourage you to stay away from it. Quite the opposite, really — we’ve published a social media strategy guide and we offer tips to help you with social media as well.
That said, here are some tips to protect your social platform:
- Unless you’re a politician, don’t post about politics on a professional social profile. Accounts that discuss politics have a higher chance of being suspended due to controversial content accidentally flagging automatic suspension algorithms. Avoid using words that could trigger an automated process to flag your account as well.
- Read the terms of service for the platforms you use. Is it possible that you’ve posted something that violates the terms of service of the platforms you’re using? You’ll never know if you blindly click “Accept” on terms of service as most people do. Take the time to read the terms of service for the platforms you use so you’ll know their rules.
- Designate multiple people to manage your Facebook page. On Facebook, individual profiles are designated to manage business pages. But what if your profile gets banned for something you posted personally? Now you’re locked out of your business account. Designate someone you trust as an administrator for your page just in case something happens to your personal account.