Last week, Facebook made the announcement that starting in January, it will limit how many promotional posts people see on business pages. This is on top of two algorithm changes, and the organic reach has dropped to 2.71 percent. In the last year, entrepreneurs have felt the impact of these changes in many ways, the biggest being their ability to reach their audience.
Most of the large social media companies are now publicly traded, which means they are focused on generating profits more than ever before. For the entrepreneur, this means to reach your audience, you will have to pay to do so.
The changes in social media mirror those that happened in SEO a few years ago. There were entrepreneurs that built entire businesses on SEO, and after two Google algorithm changes, many of those businesses were wiped out. History is repeating itself with social media.
Smart entrepreneurs can weather this storm by not making social media their main marketing strategy. Here are three reasons why.
1. The organic reach will continue to decrease
As these companies continue to report their earnings, the pressure to increase profits will force them to charge for services that have been free. Organic reach may never reach zero, but it will continue to get close. There are ways to increase engagement, but if a smaller base initially sees your posts, this will become nearly impossible to do without paying to boost your posts.
For small business owners, this is not good news. The biggest problem is that paying for social media ads doesn’t always translate into income, and there has been some convincing evidence questioning the effectiveness of these ads. This doesn’t mean we should abandon social media, but we have to be smart about where we spend our time and money.
2. The platforms aren’t yours
When you build a large social media following, you have to realize that those people are their customers, not yours. They may be following you, but that social media platform has complete control of what they see and do. Building your business on someone else’s platform has led to the downfall of many entrepreneurs.
Social should be a lead generator with the ultimate goal of getting those leads to visit your website, and sign up for your email list. Email marketing is still the most effective way to close the sale. After all, 100 percent of people on your email list will receive your emails, without you paying to reach them.
When you can get those leads off of social media, and onto your website, they have the chance to see everything you offer. This gives you the best chance to make multiple sales, and create life-long customers. Your website should be your foundation, not social media.
3. A diverse strategy ensures success
A diverse marketing strategy is the best marketing strategy. When SEO started to decrease, savvy entrepreneurs pivoted because they weren’t too dependent on any one strategy. These same entrepreneurs will also weather the changes on social media and whatever is the next “big thing.”
Putting all your eggs in one basket is recipe for disaster. Social media marketing should be one part of a unique, and diverse marketing strategy. If that part of the strategy starts to decrease, you pivot instead of feeling the effects financially. Successful entrepreneurs are trendsetters, not followers of what used to work.
Milan Kundera said, “Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.” You may have the marketing covered with social media, but if that’s your only form of marketing, you’re missing the innovation. A diverse strategy thrives on innovation.
These social media changes, and the ones to come, will affect your business one way or another. You have to power to decide how your business will be affected.
Take some time this week to examine your strategy for 2015. Make your marketing efforts as diverse as possible, and focus on innovation. There are over 2.5 billion people online everyday, and multiple ways to reach them. Social media shouldn’t be the only tool in your toolbox.
Related: 3 Social Media Marketing Plans for Every Startup Budget Kimanzi Constable is an author, coach and blogger. A version of this article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Copyright © 2014 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.