We’ve seen it happen again and again and again, not just with Facebook, but with Pinterest and Instagram and even with Google. And I suppose if we are relying solely on Facebook to build our business, these algorithm changes are a HUGE blow. But that’s the point — we should never be building our businesses on someone else’s platform.
Facebook (and Pinterest… and Instagram… and Twitter… and all the other platforms out there) are amazing tools to expand our reach. And if we can ride that wave and use it to connect with our audience? Great! But we need to ride that wave in the right direction — to something we own.
As bloggers, we have no control over how external platforms like Facebook or Pinterest decide to run their business. They can make any decisions they want, and we have no say. if our entire business is reliant on those platforms, we don’t have any control over our business, either.
Which is why we have to use them in a way that gives us control — by driving that traffic straight to our email list.
Let’s take a look at how to build a traffic strategy that works — no matter what curve balls Facebook, Pinterest, or any other platform decides to throw our way.
Why the End Goal of External Platforms Should Always Be Building an Email List
I have said it before, and I will say it again: our email list is, hands-down, the most powerful weapon in our arsenal, but it’s true! Our email list is the only channel we truly own — and the only channel where we don’t have to shell over cash anytime we want to connect with our audience. When we capture someone’s email, that’s it it’s ours forever. We can continue to build that relationship with our audience no matter what rule changes Facebook comes up with or what algorithm change Pinterest decides to throw our way. Our email list belongs to us, and no one can take that away.
And here’s the thing — those algorithm changes? The ones that feel like a major “ouch!” to our business? They’re going to keep coming. These platforms have their own interests, and those interests aren’t to make our lives easier — they’re to make more money. So if they figure out a way to make that happen, they’ll probably do it — at our expense.
Which is all the more reason to take control and funnel our focus into our email list!
Moral of the story: Facebook (and Pinterest and Instagram and podcasting platforms and YouTube and all the other 10,000 platforms out there) are great ways to drive traffic. But the destination for that traffic should always, always be something we own — our email list.
How to Use Social Media to Build Your Email List
Now that we agree that the best use of other platforms is as a vehicle to build our list, let’s talk about what that looks like in action. Or, shall we say, call-to-action.
A strong CTA is the key to generating email sign-ups from other platforms. No matter what we’re doing — whether it’s releasing a video or sending out a Facebook post or sharing a photo on Instagram — we should always, always, ALWAYS include a CTA that leads people to sign up for our email list.
So what should that CTA look like? The most important element is that we need to give people an incentive to sign up. That’s where lead magnets come in — if we have a strong lead magnet that our audience really wants (like a cheat sheet or an ebook), it will entice them to sign up. Then, once they’re on our email list, we can continue to build that relationship and deliver value.
The Only Metric That Matters
Now, it’s important for us to keep track of what’s working and what’s not so we can figure out which platforms are the best tools for building our email list. But it’s also important not to get so caught up in metrics that we lose sight of the ultimate goal.
Engagement, likes, comments, shares, … All of those are great, but in the end, they don’t really matter. The only metric that — and the only metric we really need to keep track of — is how many email subscribers each post is driving. For example, let’s say we have a Facebook post A, which gets 1,000 likes but didn’t get us a single new email subscriber, and Facebook post B, which gets 100 likes but also drives 20 new subscribers to our email list. Which is a bigger success?
If you said Facebook post B, you’re correct! Facebook post B is a success because it successfully drove people to our email list — which we own and can now use to do what we want. Facebook post A might have gotten more likes, but it didn’t really drive anything that will support our business.
Beware of “Tricks”
We can’t stop Facebook, Pinterest, and other platforms from making algorithm changes. But there are some people out there who think they can “trick” the platforms, get around the algorithm changes, and continue to get what they want without being detected.
And if I have one word of advice, it would be this: be very, very cautious.
Are there ways to “get around” the algorithm changes and “trick” external platforms into driving more likes, page views, traffic, and all that jazz? Sure. But if we’re reliant on those little “tricks” to get our content in front of our audience, we still don’t have the control we need to build a sustainable traffic strategy. And when we get caught — and trust me, we will get — Facebook (or Pinterest or Twitter or whatever platform we’re using) won’t be happy. We’ll probably get our account suspended, which means that traffic source will be cut off forever.
Moral of the story: these “tricks” might work for a while, but not only are they putting as at risk of getting our accounts suspended, they’re also not giving us what we really need — control over our traffic strategy.
That is why the best traffic strategy — no matter where or what platform we’re on — is to create great content that drives people to our email list. If we’re focused on creating amazing content that provides real value, we can transcend all the ups-and-downs of algorithm and come out on — with a healthy email list to show for it.
Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and all the other platforms out there are great tools for driving traffic. But we need to be strategic about where we’re driving that traffic and how we’re taking advantage of the exposure. The best thing we can do is to convert that traffic into a long-term asset — by funneling it straight into our email list.