I remember it just like it was yesterday. I opened up my browser on March 13th 2019 as I do everyday to post to my Facebook Design Mentorship Group and my consumer page, and it returned an error message. What? I tried a few more times......nothing! I panicked, and for a brief moment wondered if the world was coming to an end.
Facebook and Instagram were down.
I have been an active user on Facebook since the beginning. Was that like back in 2009? Can't even remember! My design business was pretty young back then, and the moment I discovered that you could establish a business page on Facebook and talk directly to the consumers seeking your services, I went for it in a major way - and I haven't slowed down since.
There have been a lot of changes over the years, but I have stuck with Facebook through it all - tweaking when I must and trying to stay on the good side of Mark Z. So I understood the need for Mark Z to take the day off to go fishing, maybe? Or was it for something more sinister than that?
The PR spin that they give when stuff like this happen is never the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We have to look for the writings on the wall when things like this happen. But I am never one to judge.
I remember the days of "Ladders" and "Reciprocal Facebook Like Communities" to build our following and get in front of more people. Participating in all these communities took time and effort, and I have made some amazing connections with fellow small business owners that I have remained friends with to this day. In fact, my great friend Sharon O'Day whom I met in one such community reached out to me recently. She has been a constant source of encouragement over the years, and I e-met her on Facebook many years ago. She taught me some valuable lessons about how to handle my finances, and I will always be grateful to her. I have many more stories of amazing business people whom I have met right here on social media who have had a positive impact on my business and my life.
Facebook (and even now Instagram), have been good to my business. I get to talk directly to my audience in meaningful ways. I get to work with brands that I love. I get to showcase my work and inspire others. I get to connect with other business people. I get to mentor fellow designers, which is something I am very passionate about. I get to be mentored by other designers that I admire. I get to connect with amazing clients and admirers of my work. I get to connect with long time friends on the personal front.
About 12% of my gross revenue from 2018 came as a direct result of Facebook and Instagram, so you can see that the stakes are high for me if Facebook and Instagram goes kaput like Myspace did.
But even then, I am not relying on Facebook to run a profitable business. The truth is that any designer, or business owner who is relying on social media for 100% of their revenue could be in big trouble sooner or later. Facebook has been having major issues for a while now, and there have been questionable changes that have been of great concern to me. Things are changing fast, and they could change for the worse sooner than later. If Mark Z pulls the plug, many businesses could find themselves out of business.
In general, the design industry has been exploited by some of the very companies who promised to partner with us to grow our businesses together. Houzz is one of them who has taken our own work and used them to compete against us. My friend Laurel Bern gives a detailed account of the shenanigans of Houzz HERE. I encourage you to read it.
It's no wonder we get a bit paranoid when we see these changes that seem to make it harder for us on these platforms. Once bitten, twice shy. Right?
Facebook has made it extremely difficult to get our posts in front of the consumers who took the time to follow us. We are now required to pay to play - and that is not that bad if you think about it. Certainly I would expect Facebook to want to make money if we are using their platform to make money. But the truth is that they have made it so difficult and extremely expensive to advertise on their platform. You almost need an advanced degree to figure out their ads manager, and the busy small business person like myself who wears many hats and juggles many balls on the daily, has no time to figure it out. So we waste our money on ads that don't get in front of the right people, or pay someone high fees to figure it out for us.
So what do we do instead?
Well, I don't think we have to resort to throwing the baby out with the bath water, so some social media presence is still a must I think to build a well rounded marketing plan for my business. I mean, without Facebook and Instagram, many of you reading this would have no idea that I exist. So I stay until I am told otherwise.
But I am fully aware that we are loving on borrowed time over on Facebook and Instagram. It's like building your dream home on leased land. You can enjoy it for a good long time until your landlord decides he wants his land back.
If you like what you see from us here at Casa Vilora Interiors, you may consider joining our online Forum, becoming a VIP or Elite Member of our website community, as well as joining our email list. This would be the only way to stay in touch if social media goes dark again. And I am pretty sure that will happen again.
We have basically decided that it is best to build our community on a platform that we own and have more control over, which is our website just in case we wake up to Facebook Apocalypse again tomorrow.
You wouldn't want to miss any of our beautiful colorful rooms, right?
Ok, so maybe this one isn't very colorful, but that just shows our design range, and you don't want to miss that for sure :-) #PastelsAreColorToo
Our Forum dubbed Lux Living Lounge works very similar to Facebook in that you can write a post, ask questions, post pictures, engage with other members, follow other members and connect with us directly. It is pretty awesome if you give it a shot
Joining our email list means that you get our monthly newsletter - Lux Domain (see past issues HERE), as well as advance notification on special promotions and news. You also get our blog posts. We never spam our email list subscribers because we know you already get tons of emails. Lord knows I do.
We would absolutely hate losing touch with all our over 6400 plus Facebook followers and 6000 plus Instagram fans, and that does not have to happen if you decide to join our website community. In fact, my "One Word" for 2019 is COMMUNITY. Building it and nurturing it because interior design goes FARRRRRRR beyond a job for me. It is my God-given gift to the world, and I would not be honoring this gift, if I did not seek to bring it to the world in every way possible.
The great Facebook Instagram Blackout of 2019 will no doubt go down in history as the day many influencers, designers, businesses lost connection to their audience and 100% of a whole day's income. That is something that I hope they have taken to heart. I know I have.
So I have to ask, where were you when the Great Facebook Instagram Black Out Of 2019 occurred?
Wishing You Beauty And Inspiration!