6 minute read

Once Twitter and Facebook announced the banning of Donald Trump on their platforms in 2020, virtually every major social media platform has put a ban on Mr Trump for “violating their terms of service.”

Twitter stated:

“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” Twitter said in its announcement. “In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action.”

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said:

“We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great. Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”

People who love ‘The Donald’ were up in arms – throwing all sorts of accusations at the social media giants about an abuse of power.

In early 2021, Mr Trump pledged to launch his own ‘social media platform’ where his fans could get unobstructed access to his views of the world. Two months later, Donald launched his new platform – a blog on his website titled “From the Desk of Donald J Trump”. And two months after that, he shut it down.

When former Nevada Republican Party chairwoman Amy Tarkanian asked whether Trump’s move might be a “precursor to him joining another social media platform,” Miller responded, “Yes, actually, it is. Stay tuned!”

NBC News reported recently that in the blog’s first week, it drew only 212,000 “engagements” and it’s believed Trump shut down his blog because of the constant news reports about how poor his engagement was. By contrast, before his ban by the major platforms, he had 88 million followers on Twitter and 32 million on Facebook.

Which leads us to why this move by Trump could be the dumbest digital marketing move in history.

Although social media channels can be great places to build a digital footprint and acquire followers, you ultimately have no control over what those companies do with your connections – even if you’re the President.

Sure, platforms like Facebook lets your current connections see all the content you publish on Facebook, but Facebook changes its algorithm consistently. One day you might see thousands of people engage with your post. The next day it could be a few dozen. Facebook has every right to do so as a private business, and you, a free member of the Facebook community, have very few rights (if any). They could, of course, kick you off the platform at any time.

Social channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram may all be solid considerations to build a platform depending on whom you are targeting, but it’s important to understand the dangers.

Donald Trump had a chance to build a massive audience on his own platform at a time when his followers were hyper-engaged. He could of ‘owned’ the land on which his audience was built and he could have had a massive media empire off the back of it – eventually.

But he chose to jump from rented land to rented land and he became virtually silenced yet again – something that will continue to happen to Mr Trump unless he largely changes his views.

But let’s be honest, that ain’t gonna happen and the social media giants are showing no signs of letting him back into the playground any time soon. For a guy who understands real estate, this move by Mr Trump just seems like a really dumb move.

Let me be clear – this is not a political statement (but I am happy to say that I’m no Trump fan). This is simply an observation of what appears to be a very ill-advised marketing strategy.

The Safest Bet

Look at the fastest-growing media companies of today – including the major property portals. They are all very good at leveraging social channels and building an audience on those channels, but they don’t build their main platform on social channels.

Take a look at every one of their posts on social media. Sure, they get some engagement i.e. likes, shares, comments etc. But what metrics do you think they’re always looking to improve…

REA are masters at using social media to drive one of their main objectives – convincing you, the real estate agent, and consumers that their website has the most visitors of any other property portal.

The more traffic they drive, the more eyeballs you get on your listings and the more likely there’ll be another subscription increase just around the corner. We are feeding the beast, my friends.

In every case, media companies build websites or mobile applications or print properties or event programs (all with subscribers) that they can own, and then leverage other channels to drive people back to the sites they own so they can convert passersby into an audience they can monetise.

If Facebook bans REA or Domain for some reason (ahem… that happened albeit briefly), it may put a dent into their plans, but it won’t kill them, because they have an amazing owned audience of opt-in subscribers.

Social media is the cheese. Your website is the mousetrap.

In the 2nd edition of the book titled “Content Inc.“, author Joe Pulizzi talks about ‘moving your audiences up the chain’.

“Basically, our goal is to move our subscribers from rented to owned land. You may ask, how does that work exactly?

Well, do you have an audience in a Facebook group? Work on getting them subscribed to your podcast.

Have a solid YouTube audience? Try getting them to subscribe to your enewsletter.

Do you have an amazing podcast? See if you can build an online membership that requires an email address.

Remember, YOU DON’T OWN ANY OF YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA CONNECTIONS.

Do they have value for you? Then begin the move. I bet Mr. Trump wished he did exactly that.”

Related: Check out my podcast interview with Joe Pullizi “Real Estate & Content Marketing: Why It’s The Only Marketing Left”

Since 2014, we’ve been helping real estate businesses and agents implement this very same approach in their digital marketing – using every digital marketing platform, including social media, the portals and others, to drive people back to the only platform on the internet you own. Your website.

You own the land. You control the conversation. And your website should be designed to convert those visitors into subscribers or leads for your business.

Sadly, far too many real estate agents are living predominately on rented land, hopping from one social media channel to the next or jumping onto the next shiny platform when it comes along.

The longer we keep doing this as an industry, the tighter profit margins will become in real estate businesses as third party platforms continuously limit your reach and increase your costs to reach their audience. This is inevitable.

Final thought

Social media and the major portals are essential in the digital marketing mix for real estate agents. But do you need them as much as they need you?

The rise and success of off-market sales – the concept of using your ‘owned’ marketing channels to reach potential buyers with no portal advertising – is proof that agents can generate a tonne of revenue without the help of the major property portals and/or social media. Many agencies are now making this a key feature on their website and educating vendors on the advantages of this approach. What was once industry jargon is now becoming very common among consumers as buyers and vendors alike see the value and cost savings in off-market deals.

The more focus we put on building marketing channels that we own, the less susceptible we all become to price rises or algorithm changes on those rented channels.

The next algorithm change, portal price rise or government intervention in media could be just around the corner. How well are you prepared?

Author: Josh Cobb

Phone Number: 0427 184 183

Email Address: [email protected]

Stepps was founded by Josh Cobb in 2014. Josh has advised more than 100 brands since starting the company and hundreds of agents who have attended his workshops. He is the host of the popular Real Estate Pros podcast, oversees digital strategy for top performing real estate agents and teams, and travels the globe with several international speaking engagements each year.

Josh was named as a finalist in the REB Awards for Industry Thought Leader of The Year in 2017, 2018 and the winner of  Brisbane Young Entrepreneur of The Year 2017 – Marketing, PR & Events and a finalist for the same award in 2020.

In addition to web development and digital strategy consulting, the company also runs Stepps Media, a fast-growing education company that produces an iTunes top-ranked podcasttraining events, email and webinars.