How would you feel if you had spent years building a loyal audience on social media and the platform decided one day to shut it down indefinitely? Would you be mad? Would you be upset that you could no longer reach those loyal fans you worked so hard to get?

Well, this is exactly what happened for users of two popular social networks recently.

In this episode of Real Estate Pros, we discuss why building an audience on platforms you don’t own could be putting your business at risk and we ask the question, is there a better way?

The Death of Two More Social Media PlatformsGoogle recently announced that it was shutting down its video chat and screen sharing service called Hangouts on Air. If you haven’t heard of it before, it worked a little like the more widely used video chat service Skype.

With nearly 10,000 webinars and videos being produced on Google Hangouts each month, there has been a vocal group of dedicated users who are unhappy about their audience being taken away from them.

Around the same time, another popular social network called Blab was shut down indefinitely by its developers, without any prior warning to its 3.9 million monthly users. Like Google Hangouts, many people had built a loyal audience on Blab only to be told they could no longer access that audience.

I realise that you may not have heard of either of these platforms but there is a lesson here, for all of us in business, that we ought to think about. When we build an audience on someone else’s platform, whether it be social media or our real estate portals, they can change the rules whenever they like and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Do I think that Facebook will shut down tomorrow? No. But they could. And the audience we’ve all built on their platform would be taken away from us.

Am I saying that our portals are going to become a real estate agent themselves? No. But they could. If they want to raise their prices for agents to advertise on their platform, they’re well within their rights to do that.

You are operating on their land, under their rules.

On any platform other than your own website, you’re renting access to an audience that you do not own and you cannot control.

When it comes to social media and our major portals, I’m a big fan of what I heard recently called the ‘rise and shine philosophy’.

When you get up in the morning and your Facebook account is still active, or they aren’t forcing you to pay more to reach your followers, thank the stars.

If the portals haven’t increased their prices on you, say another thanks.

Be thankful for all of these things, but fully expect these platforms to change the rules by the very next day.

I’m not suggesting that you stop using these platforms, but rather leverage them to reach your clients and customers, if it makes sense for your business to do so, and prepare your content and your budget as if the rules for using these platforms could be different by the end of the day.

If you do that, you’ll become more strategic about how you use social media and the major portals to build an audience on your own platform – your website – whereby any change to someone else business won’t impact on the success of yours.

It’s pretty scary if you think about it – putting all of our content on someone else’s website is kind of like building a house on land we don’t own. Sounds a little crazy, right?

Always remember – your website is the only platform you own and you should be leveraging every other channel, at every chance possible, to turn a rented audience into one that you own – that means email subscribers.

The longer we spend building a rented audience, the bigger price we’ll pay when those platforms decide to change the rules, or worse, they shut us out completely.

My hope is you’ll change the game before it’s changed for you.

Good luck.

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