What is platform reliance?
In this post I am going to explain what platform reliance is and how you need to be careful about doing it.
In short platform reliance is when someone or business invests too much of what they do on a certain platform and need the platform to move forward.
I will be looking more specifically at getting work from a specific platform that you don’t have 100% control over (e.g. Facebook). This has stemmed from a few conversations I have had recently where people have expressed that it is an absolute necessity to be on Facebook because it gets them ‘all’ their work. These people have also considered getting rid of their website. So this post is about looking at it from the view of someone who wants businesses to grow and prosper.
The platform issues
There are many issues that I can see happening to those who rely on a specific platform. First is that they are going stumble on growing their business. ‘How so?’ you say, ‘they get most of their business from this platform?’ Well you are correct, but as they don’t have control of 100% of that site they must abide by the site’s rules. This doesn’t sound like a bad idea? Not at first but you have to follow a set layout to show off your business and what you do. You can get your branding over in images but does that go far enough? I don’t think it does. How can a user understand what separates you from anyone else when you all look the same? Some would argue that you can with messaging and proposition, which to some extent is true but too many people have similar messages in the same areas. Everyone says the difference is ‘them’ but how does a generic page help you get this message across?
‘Ok, that’s not an issue I’ll get some targeted ads and directly get in front of the people who want to see my business!’ - Great work! It is good to be proactive, target and reach out to an audience which is most likely to be interested in what you do. The small issue is you paid for it…but you have no control on the cost of the ad and know little about the many ads your target user is being bombarded with on the platform? How much is that engagement costing you? Over time the platform may increase the ads from your competition as more and more people are fighting to get their space on the turf.
Searchability of your brand is another factor to take in to account. Being on these platforms is great for linking you with the users on the platform but what about people who aren’t? Is it easy enough to go to a search engine and find you or related search terms of what you do? This platform reliance now seems to be discounting many, many other prospective clients.
The platform solution
It may seem that I’m saying that it is foolish to rely on a platform - I’m not, I’m just trying to make you aware of it’s limitations and how you could be hindering your business without even knowing it. You need to be mostly in the area that is getting you work and helping you make your living. But if you want to grow then dip your toes into other platforms.
The first platform to keep in mind, the one that you have total control on the look, feel, and messaging is YOUR website! If you’re one of those who doesn’t think your website generates enough work for you, have you ever thought about why that is? This can be answered by doing a few checks and searches online but may take time to implement. So you have to do some work? Well yes, but it can be done for free depending on your time and patience. You can perform a better job at marketing who you are with the power of your website than any other platform.
Now to really blow your mind if your one of the platform reliance people - Collect emails from these platforms and use your site to convert! Or even direct them to a landing page from another platform and use the power of your brand to seal the deal. (There are many other positives about linking up platforms but this post would be too long.)
By keeping your toes in other areas, keeping an eye on them, seeing what’s happening, you might see advantages to take. This can be in new features, better ads or their user base. It might cost you less on another platform to get in front of people you want. The user base of a platform changes over time. Some platforms are hot for 5 seconds, some pass the test of time. So it’s a great idea to see where and what people are doing. Platforms will try to outdo each other on features and continue evolving to keep the public on them and to attract new users, they may release something which will help you.
Try building up audience in different places, this goes back to ‘not everyone is on that platform’. Build and build everywhere! Have as much spread on the internet as possible. Make as much noise about who you are and what you do as you can. It’s difficult to get others to do this for you (you know what you do best) so take advantage of the ability that you can.
I’m not saying don’t focus your time on the platforms which are currently working for you. I think if one is heavily bringing in the business then think about doing something like a 80/20 split. 80% focus on what is currently working and 20% on looking into new platforms and being on others.
Have a website to help support your branding and story. You have control here! SEO (search engine optimisation) is long game for most, so keep going. It’s great for linking up with other platforms.
Be where people are and places that can help you AND be vigilant about new features, ads, user bases. Do your research, things can change and if done right you can take advantage of this!
Keep up the good work everyone and if you need help, Kraken can do just that! Just get in touch to arrange a consultation (and if you’re local, maybe grab a coffee!).