One of the complications for a small or medium sized business is other people’s platforms. Without a full suite of owned tools and hardware, most companies depend on outside providers for their needs, including their web and marketing presence. This removes all of the heavy lifting of maintaining your own systems, but it does mean you can be at the mercy of changes they decide to implement. If they change their branding to a slightly different form of red it probably doesn’t matter, but if they change the rules wholesale it can deeply impact your business. It’s vital to be aware of the moves those providers make and have a plan to deal with the impact on your business.
This came up recently with YouTube – they suddenly and drastically altered the way they pay their partners. For businesses using YouTube just to distribute their content (but not to actually make their money) it probably had minimal impact; for those whose livelihoods depended on that income, the change might prove disastrous. (You can read some details and a small sales pitch here: http://www.zype.com/youtubes-new-monetization-rules-what-does-it-mean-for-creators/). Every other platform, especially the giants of the social space have full control over what they do with their platform. What was previously an excellent space for you to communicate with your customers and build a reputation can suddenly become a dead-end because the company changes their algorithm.
There isn’t a lot you can do to change their business decisions, but there are a few things you can do to protect yourself. Ultimately you can install your own systems for some things – going to a video solution provider gives you the opportunity to deliver video content without depending on YouTube. (Kaltura, Brightcove, JW Player and Ooyala are some of the services with enterprise offerings). You’ll still want to be on YouTube to catch the users that are there, but you’ll have more control over how you display and brand your video.
You won’t be able to do much with Facebook and Twitter – it’s not like you can start your own social networking site with the reach of those massive platforms. What you can do is stay aware of the changes they have coming down the road. There are dozens of blogs out there, including the platform’s own, that will keep you up to date on major changes that can affect you. If you don’t want to spend your time reviewing product blogs, the most important thing is to check on your content regularly, ideally as a customer would rather than as the content owner. Use your personal account (which should be following and sharing your business account) to see how a customer experiences your content so you’ll at least be aware how the changes appear to others.
If you want to learn more about staying aware of platform changes that can impact your company, reach out to me and let’s review your dependencies.