Marketing moves fast, and small business owners have a tough time keeping up with it. One day the “Boost” button is on the bottom of page two, the next day it’s at the top of page one. Keeping up with changes like this is no fun, but it’s hardly beyond the scope of most business people I’ve met.

The real problems start when big tech platforms decide to make BIG changes in how they handle your interfacing with their platforms. For example, Facebook recently introduced a new business app for your phone, called “Business Suite”. It has taken the place of Facebook Pages, and quite honestly, it’s a bear to learn. Simple functions, like seeing how many likes or shares a post has gotten (and by whom) has become convoluted and complicated, almost beyond the usefulness of the data.

The more serious challenge, though, is when a marketing platform makes a major change, and it has a drastic impact on your particular market or product. We aren’t talking about the deplatforming of people for political speech, but rather the algorithms simply making an “adjustment” that could decimate your business.

Certain small business owners, like restauranteurs and specialty shops, have grown dangerously dependent on a single line of customer communication. Whether it’s communicating via Yelp reviews, or running all your product through Etsy, the single channel communication model only works if you own the channel. I’m not talking “own it” like the trendy phrase, “I OWNED his butt!”, but literally to OWN the channel, with a legal contract and property rights that you can defend in court.

Reason #1: Control your own data

By building and owning your own online marketing platform, you can control the content and traffic that visits.  You will own the leads you generate, and the won’t be hidden in some mysterious “black box” that Facebook will only allow you to access when they deem you worthy. No, instead you will have the access information you have earned with your potential customers, and the ability to contact them whenever you wish, at the price you can afford.

And what’s nice about owning your own digital marketing platform is that you can also integrate all those other channels within it, so that you control the information flow with just a few keystrokes on your own dashboard, rather than having to learn how each social media channel is doing things this week. Imagine for a moment that you need to get information out about a sale, or extended hours, or a special deal you have to promote, and with one click you can send it off simultaneously to Facebook Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Tumblr.  Boom.  Done.

You can even set the time of the release, so you don’t have to be sitting at your computer rushing to get it posted on all the platforms when you want the posts to be public at noon on Saturday.  You can send it out to some or all of the available channels, at the time you want, with the extra headline copy you want. Then, when people see the information, they will click on the post to find out more, and that launches them directly back to YOUR marketing platform, where you control the interaction.

Reason #2: Avoid the Algorithms of Death

What’s popular one day could be the death of your business tomorrow. Sometimes social media companies will make what they consider to be minor “tweaks” in their algorithms, and it will have devastating impacts on businesses they never intended to target at all.

Yes, the Law of Unintended Consequences is alive and well and living on Facebook.

I can think of no better example of this than the historical corset industry. There is a large community of historical garment makers, and one of the most specialized, and most financially successful, belongs to the people who make historically accurate corsets. These undergarments are absolutely vital to the correct and proper creation of the rest of historical clothing construction for women. Simply put, they are the structural foundation upon which the large skirts and dresses hung, taking the weight off the back and shoulders. If you want to attend an historical reenactment, or are hired to be a docent at a living museum, you must have a proper corset.

And then Facebook decided they were solely intended for sexual escapades, and banned the sale and discussion on the entire platform.

Overnight, hundreds of custom sewists and corset makers were wiped off the face of social media Earth. This left them scrambling in a dozen different ways, because many of them had only ever marketing their wares on Facebook, and they had no other audience anywhere, and no other way for their existing audience to find them again.  You have no idea where your business might get blindsided by something like this, which is technically why it’s called “blindsided”. You can only do your best to have your own channel, where your customers know they can always find you.

Reason #3: You control the experience

I’ve watched businesses create some AMAZING content on Facebook and LinkedIn, only to see ads for their discount competitors below or beside the awesome post. That’s an amazing capability of social media: the ability to place your message in front of your target audience. The thing many people don’t realize is you can actively target your competitors with this technology, especially if they are major corporations. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the field of employment, where you can DIRECTLY target employees of certain corporations, with whatever message you want to put in front of them. If your client is an employer and wants to hire away people from XYZ Corporation down the road, you can put ads in front of them talking about the great benefits available at your own company.

The problem is, it doesn’t stop there. I can pick people who like YOUR business, follow YOUR page, and are interested in buying YOUR product, then when you attract those people to your social media post, Facebook will put MY AD directly in front of them, luring them to MY site instead of yours. And I will thank you for attracting them and making the so easy to target.

Which really isn’t why you are creating that content, is it?

This isn’t a new concept. In fact, you can find a great fable about it in Chinese literature:

A petty thief broke into a wealthy house and took away many small items from the cabinets, desks, and other large containers.

Subsequently, when the man of the family was about to take a business trip, he became worried and asked, “How can we prevent thieves from stealing our property, my dear wife?”

“Why don’t we tie our containers with ropes so that thieves can’t get at the items within,” suggested the wife.

“That’s a brilliant idea, my dear,” the husband replied, and he ordered his servants to tie the containers securely with ropes.

Then one night a group of thieves broke into the house and easily carried away the conveniently-tied containers.”

Luke Chan, 101 Lessons of Tao

The key to good advertising is to own your customer base, and get them away from the advertising and marketing channels used by your competitors as fast as possible. With your own online marketing platform, like DRIVOR, you can simplify your business, insure against random cancellation, and avoid giving your leads to your smart competitors, all at once.