facebook launches shop

Will Facebook and Instagram Shop Help or Hurt Small Businesses?

Don’t put all your eggs in the same basket – goes an old saying. But what if all the baskets are owned by someone else. You will still lose them, if that someone else chooses to one day.

Facebook’s new offering Facebook Shop and Instagram shop might just be that small basket you are putting all your eggs in. Facebook recently announced their latest offering which they said will help small businesses to go online during this pandemic.

Well, no doubt they will have better chances of surviving this rainy day, but about the future. Should small businesses trust Facebook fully and go ahead with their option instead of owning their own online store. It’s like having a brick and mortar store on someone else’s land and the landlord having absolute authority of driving you out whenever he/she wishes to. That would hurt right? You putting years of effort into promoting your Facebook page only to realize one day that all that effort was for nothing.

Some people who many not want to discuss this viewpoint might point out that I am just being skeptical. Well, I am. And I will tell you why.

Owned channels & rented channels in marketing

In the world of internet marketing, there are some buzz words called “Owned Channels” and “Rented Channels.” As a business owner and a marketer, your greatest asset is your ability to deliver a message to your potential or end customer when you want to at a very less cost. This ability enables you to delivery your message to your user, whether the user uses your product or not is a different matter altogether.

Owned Channels

These owned channels can be any direct point of contact with the user like email, phone number or an address if you are sending your message using hand written notes. Once you have these you just need to use a third party marketing platform like mailchimp or sendgrid to send your message. And the good part is you can change this third party if you don’t like its services. So see, you are in control of your marketing and no one can shut you out except the customer.

Rented Channels

Whereas rented channels are platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat etc where you create your profile and then work very hard to promote it. You spend thousands of dollars to get to hundred thousand followers and you are doing great. Every message of yours is read by thousands of people who interact with your post and maybe buy your services. But one day, the social media company decides to change their algorithm and all of a sudden you see that you have to spend double the money to send your message to your own followers.

Agreed that even in owned channels you still have to pay for the emails you send. But the point is, there you have the choice to change your third party email marketing platform and go with another. But do you have the same option here. You don’t.

You might like to ask if there is any data to support that Facebook or Instagram might decide to change their algorithm in the future, thereby making you completely helpless. Yes, there is. When Facebook and Instagram started, initially they had a chronological feed. Where all your followers get to see all the posts that you have shared in a chronological way. That way most of your followers who have followed you in the first place used to get to know all your updates.

But gradually Facebook and then Instagram decided to change their algorithm. So right now, even if you have 100k followers on Instagram and you post something, all 100k followers won’t see your post. Instagram will randomly select 15 or 20% of your followers and send your post to them. If these users interact with your post, then Instagram will send it to the next 20% and so on. So, your level of interaction decreases at each iteration.

Facebook Shop is a rented store with no minimum lease period

With Facebook and Instagram shop, the problem of not being able to switch vendors has been extended to the web store itself. Right now, there are a dozen of companies or tech vendors like Shopify which enables you to have your own eCommerce store. But they don’t own the store neither do people need to go to the tech vendor to buy your products. They come to your website and the tech works in the background. Tomorrow, if you are not happy with the tech vendor, you can build your own custom website and connect it to your same old domain. People will still come to the same domain.

So, you don’t lose the years of hard work that you have put in to promote your online store. You still do the same business that you used to and the tech doesn’t come on your way.

The point I am trying to make here is that, right now, no doubt, one should use Facebook and Instagram shop to quickly set up one’s online store. But prepare for your own “Owned Channel” right away, so that in the future you are not left helpless when a company decides to change its policies.

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