In blocking “newsworthy content”, they’ve blocked a whole bunch of businesses (from Virgin Australia to Harvey Norman to local stores) as well as non-profits and local organisations from their platform too.
This isn’t the first time a monopolistic tech giant has cut off access to a key marketing, awareness or revenue channel for businesses. In an industry that values “disruption”, and is more than willing to assert their dominance, this kind of upheaval is actually really common.
Google’s done it multiple times (Google Slap, Google Slap 2.0, The Panda Update, Adsense devaluation, etc) and Facebook too (Limiting the visibility of Pages in the Newsfeed, arbitrarily banning ad accounts, etc). As public utilities in the digital age, these changes are no less damaging than a power utility deciding to no longer supply electricity to the street your business is on, or a telephone provider no longer providing phone services.
So what do you do when it happens?
1. Build Your Business, Not Theirs
Facebook’s a really handy platform for marketing. (Google too!)
But it’s their platform. Not yours.
Leverage Facebook for your marketing. Create engagement on social media if it supports your business. But make sure you’re building your own assets, not theirs.
It’s one thing to have a popular Facebook page. But it’s a whole lot more valuable long term to have a popular email list, or community that you yourself own.
2. Salvage What You Can
If you have any way of accessing your former Facebook followers, reach out to them and see if you can invite them to stay in touch in other ways. Perhaps you kept a list of names. Perhaps you have a record elsewhere.
If not, Facebook is still accepting ads from Australian businesses. (Funny that.) It might be worth running some targeted ads, offering something valuable for free, and seeing if you can capture those former followers’ email addresses. (Expect to pay $5-15 per email address though, so you need to make sure that this money is being invested, not “spent”.)
3. Never Forget
Only let it happen to you once.
It might be too late to restore your Facebook business profile or page. But you can avoid making the same mistake twice.
Make sure you’re building your business, not theirs.