By now you’ve probably heard about the big news of the day… Facebook has seemingly thrown their toys out of the cot and is blocking Australian users from reading and sharing news on its platform in objection to the Australian Government’s proposed media code of conduct.
But it’s not only publishers including realestate.com.au, domain.com.au and others that have woken up to their Facebook Page’s being blacked out and their ability to add new posts removed, but many non-news-related organisations have also been affected.
Among essential services pages impacted are Queensland Government’s TransLink, Queensland Health, Brisbane City Council, RACQ, RACQ LifeFlight and Energex.
In fact, our own Facebook Page has also been affected.
Interestingly, we are still able to run Ads through Facebook Ads Manager (at least for now!) even though we can’t currently post to our Page. BUT, we’re acutely aware this could change too.
Update 22/02/21: Many of the above Pages have now been restored by Facebook including ours.
There has been uproar from many in the media and the government, as well as from people in industries unrelated to the media, for losing their ability to post on their Page and for having their content deleted.
We’ve also seen communications from real estate franchise groups to their offices warning them about sharing content to their Page from news websites and even their own website because, they say, “this could put your Facebook Page at risk” – which is unproven and unsubstantiated by Facebook’s own statement.
Currently, if you attempt to share content from a news website, you will likely be met with this warning:
If you are a real estate business and you are producing content on your website or blog, there is currently no evidence that this warning will appear by you sharing your own content from your own website or blog on Facebook – either as a post or an advertisement. So you should be safe to continue this, for now, as long as your Page is still able to post content.
We’ve also seen some suggestions that the more warnings you get (see screenshot above) the more likely your Facebook Page will be locked down or blocked. This is also unproven and nothing in the communication from Facebook suggests this will happen. So again, you should be safe to share content from your own website and/or blog to your Facebook Page – either as a post or an advertisement through Ads Manager. We would just suggest you don’t share any content from news websites to your Page, for now.
What’s going to happen next?
Nobody knows. But what’s for sure is that many Facebook Pages have been affected by this (including us), not just news organisations.
I do beleive that something will be done sooner rather than later for companies who have had their Pages blocked by Facebook but are not related to a news organisation. These companies may see their content restored soon. Maybe.
But for the media companies out there, it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen next for them. Either the government gives in, or Facebook does, or neither do.
What it means for real estate agents and businesses
Let this day be a lesson for all: don’t build your digital house on rented land.
If you’ve followed our company at all over the past 7 years or read anything we’ve written on our blog, you would have heard us use this mantra many times before. We’ve said for years that your own website, CRM and email list are the most important digital platforms because they’re the only ones you own.
On any other digital platform, you are playing on someone else’s land under their rules and they can change the rules whenever they like.
If you don’t care about the ability to post articles and links on your Facebook Page and you’re more about engaging with your followers through other types of content, don’t be complacent. Facebook just might change the rules on that stuff too.
If you’ve leant heavily on Facebook (or social media in general) to drive your digital marketing over the years, it’s time to start diversifying your strategy if you don’t want to be caught out when the rules change again (and they will).
Our own strategy for Facebook, and most other social platforms, has almost always been about getting people out of the noise in their newsfeed onto our website and into our email list – so that we can continue providing our content to our most loyal followers unfettered. The two main KPI’s for our business when it comes to using Facebook have almost always been:
- Website traffic (increasing the number of people to our website for the lowest cost possible)
- Emai list growth (increasing the number of people on our email list as a result of them visiting our website from social)
For over 7 years we’ve been laser-focused on this strategy for days like today that we knew could, and probably would, happen. So we see this move by Facebook to remove our content and block our ability to post to our Page as no big deal. If Facebook restores our Page that’s great. But our email list, our most valuable audience that we’ve cultivated over the years, will continue to hear from us regardless.
Remember, the only digital platforms you own are:
- Your website
- Your CRM/database
- Your email list
If you aren’t already using these as your primary source of communication with your audience/database, you probably should be. The longer you keep relying on other platforms to build and cultivate your following, the riskier and more expensive your digital marketing will become.
Think of it this way… do you have a plan for your digital marketing if Facebook shut down tomorrow? I certainly hope that you do, or you will.