Can your business be deplatformed?
Perhaps you have a YouTube channel, Instagram account, or blog that does well. It’s possible that you could be deplatformed. That’s the whole reason I ask for subscribers to my podcast and email list. That way, my people know where you can find me if something happens.
The quick answer is that if your business relies on any single platform like YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook for the majority of your revenue, then you can certainly be deplatformed.
In the last couple of years, there’s been kind of an unspoken purging that’s been taking place online specifically on YouTube. It all started with the deplatforming of a dude called Alex Jones.
I’m not a fan or follower of Alex. I used to follow his early stuff, but then he just got too crazy and fringe for me. However, I am a fan and advocate for the First Amendment and free speech. So, when multiple platforms decided to ban Alex Jones in a concerted effort that was kind of alarming to me.
Alex was taken offline everywhere except his own websites. YouTube, Apple, Twitter, and Facebook all in a concerted effort decided on the same day that Alex Jones was done on their platforms.
Following that, YouTube began purging all conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorist related content from their platform. Then Amazon jumped on board and started purging the health niche of books related to home remedies and other homeopathic information.
They decided unilaterally that stuff wasn’t going to be allowed on their platform. More recently, Slate.com ran an article talking about all of the coronavirus related books that had flooded Amazon. (I couldn’t find the Slate article.) Those will soon meet their fate.
Think about it, YouTube channels, Twitter feeds, and Facebook Groups…none of that is yours. It all belongs to the respective platform that it’s hosted on and they are the ones that ultimately decide who lives and dies on those platforms.
I noticed also in the midst of all of this coronavirus stuff that Facebook had stopped allowing any articles on that topic to show on their platform at all. I believe they relented after the fact so that people could at least get some kind of information, but initially, they started limiting that information in their algorithms.
These choices are fully in the realm of their rights to make, but the problem is that these platforms have come out and publicized and marketed themselves to the point that they become the industry standard.
For example, YouTube is the industry standard for video creators. Twitter is the industry standard for microblogging and sharing short messages with a link. All of these platforms have established themselves as those standards in their industry so they have a huge number of people using them.
It comes to a point where you can almost guarantee someone is on Facebook and things like that. It becomes a problem that these platforms become the standard and once mass adoption happens, they decided they don’t like what you’re saying and make a unilateral decision to shut you up.
At that point, it becomes an attack on free speech.
No one person or platform should be able to decide whether you’re allowed to have your say or not. That’s just not how it works in a society where we have free speech. That’s a problem.
Aside from that, I know people who put massive, and I mean full-time tons of work into YouTube, and it only takes a split second for them to take it all away.
They take everything down and you’re done. If that’s your sole source of revenue in your online business and you haven’t backed yourself up with an email list or website that you own outright, then you’re done until you manage to create a new audience.
How to Prevent Yourself from Getting Deplatformed
The burning question is how can you prevent yourself from getting deplatformed?
Have a website.
Have a corner of the Internet that you own outright.
Second, and a very close second, have an email list. Even if you get deplatformed from your email marketing service, you own that list of emails. You still have every right to email the people that have opted in to receive your email. You simply move to a new platform.
Third, diversify your platforms. If you’re on YouTube, upload your videos to other video sharing websites. If you’re publishing books, go wide. Use an aggregate publishing service to distribute your books to other booksellers and libraries.
Make your website the hub of whatever it is that you’re doing rather than say a Facebook group. Set up a membership site instead. Your website is a medium for you to acquire and retain traffic, so why not use it!? You work hard to get traffic to your website, so you might as well have measures in place to retain those visitors.
Yes, absolutely use all of the great platforms available to you, but send that traffic to your website and your email capture form.
What Email Marketing Service Should I Use?
I always recommend MailChimp.
Some people have an aversion to MailChimp, but here’s why I recommend it:
- It’s free up to 2,000 subscribers and you can send out 12,000 emails a month
- It integrates with everything like WordPress plugins and other platforms that tie into email marketing
- It’s fairly easy to use once you have it figured out
- It has landing pages so you can begin building your list before you have a website
- Among the top 4 services for deliverability meaning it makes it into the inbox a lot more often than the spam filter
If you’re strapped for cash, you can’t beat free. You don’t need a ton of services affecting your bottom line before you’ve even started. If you’re slower at taking action, you won’t have that monthly output sucking the life out of what you’re trying to build.
You can have a full-time income from 2,000 subscribers before you even have to start paying. Even if you’re not strapped for cash, I still recommend MailChimp for getting started. You can always export your list and move to a new service later.
Whatever service you choose, make sure it has an export feature so that you can download your list, back it up, and ultimately, move it anytime you need or want to.
Your email list should be the first asset that you build for your business even prior to having a website. MailChimp has landing pages where you can send traffic before your website is available.
For example, if you’re an author and you put your opt-in information the front matter of your books, you can use your MailChimp landing page and start building your list before you have a website.
I have a video on how to do that:
That’s a Wrap!
Any effort that you put into web properties that you do not own could be lost. You can lessen that blow and retain communication with your audience if you have that email list.
Sure, it’s still possible for you to lose a sizable chunk of your tribe, but your email list are your most engaged people. They are the ones who have said, “Yes, I want to be here, I want to get your emails, and I’m willing to let you have my email address.”