You might remember when the Instagram app crashed, people went swarming over to facebook and twitter checking to see what’s going on only to find out that the app was hit by an outage.

The truth is that while it was down, we didn’t know if would will last a few hours, a couple of days, or is a permanent situation. It only lasted a little while, but maybe it was enough to get small business thinking on how prepared their business is without social media being accessible.

Fast forward a week, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are ALL dealing with outages causing problems across all social media platforms.

Maybe you felt like me, nostalgic for the days before social media was around and smiled at the idea of less social media. Perhaps it forced you to put your phone down and be present in the moment with people you love. Maybe you even celebrated a little.

But maybe, just maybe, you’re a small business owner who freaked out a little about it being down and worried what it would mean for you and your business or brand, and with good reason. You’ve probably worked really hard to get your social page to grow and put a lot of hard effort into that little number next to your business name.

That little number so many people like to put so much weight on when it comes to what it comes to how your business is doing. People relate it to success when really, it has very little to do with it. 

Ironically I noticed that Instagram was down while working on my website, which is currently getting some new updates to the homepage and blog. I’ve been getting up at 5-6 am every day for the last week to sit in the office and work on it while my kids are still asleep and it’s incredibly rewarding seeing it all come together and to be 100% honest, it feels a whole lot more productive than posting to social media. 

I learned early on that social status, on apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter do not translate into a secure or striving business. Of course, it *feels* good to have a social media account that has a large following of over 132,000 combined followers on Facebook and Instagram. BUT I’m also very aware that I can organically only reach about 5% of them when I post and it’s made me realize a long time ago how silly it is to put so much weight on platforms that I do not own. 

That’s the hard truth when it comes to social media. It’s rented space, and you’ll never be able to depend on that alone longterm. It, of course, presents itself with incredible opportunities to connect to people all over the world, but it’s so important to look at the big picture. 

This brings me to my most important point; If Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest shutting down stressed out. If the idea of NEVER being able to connect and reach out to your followers worries you, then start putting more focus on the aspects of your business that you 100% control and own.

For me, that means my website and my email list. 

The fact that over 16,000+ people joined my list last month alone (80,000 total) makes me feel secure in my small business because I know that I am putting more focus on growing my site traffic and list rather than putting value and effort on my Instagram or Facebook numbers. Numbers that I’ll never own, and have to pay to reach over and over again.

Use social media being down as a wakeup call and ask yourself;  
  • Did it have you worried?
  • Did you have a way to still reach your audience without it?
  • Were you too busy working on the right things to even notice?

Here are a few tips to get you started so you can prepare your business to do great even without the help of social media.

BUILDING YOUR LIST If starting your email list sounds overwhelming to you, then take it one step at a time. It is time-consuming to put into place and set up, but once you have it going you’ll feel great about seeing that list grow, especially since you know that you own it yourself! 

I always recommend starting with what you have. Most businesses go years without focusing on newsletters and email lists, and when they feel ready to start one, they feel like they have nothing, to begin with. Think about ALL your past customers, and orders, and export these first. Make sure to get permission on getting them added to your list. This will give you a nice little base to start with.
There is a lot to pick from, and after trying a handful that made things incredibly complicated, I ended up going with MailChimp myself. They integrate beautifully with many different things and make it possible for me to automate critical aspects of good email marketing. But again, there are lots out there to choose to take a look at what’s available and see which one lines up with what you need.
A lot of people get stuck with what to say, how to say it, and when to say it. Start with a simple outline going over things you find most important. Draw out your first two months. If you’re sending one email a week, that will give you eight newsletters to write. 

  • TIP: Start with the introduction. Email number one should be you telling your subscriber a little bit about who you are, and what you do. This way, they know who they are receiving these future emails from. Make a list of essential things you want to include into your email sequence and then put it in an order that makes sense. Think about your customer or client, and what kind of experience you want them to have when it comes to receiving your emails. 
  • TIP: Keep in mind that newsletters are not like social media, you don’t have to blast out one email to the same people at the same time, instead, take the time to build a relationship with them. Offer insight and helpful tips that can help THEM. The point of email marketing is not just to sell, sell, sell. It’s to build a relationship with them long term.

Then go live with it. Consider it a long term project, one you will continue to add on to and improve as the time goes by. It does not have to be perfect to start; what’s most important is that you simply start already. 

Being a small business owner is a lot of hard work, we spend hours upon hours overtime working on our dreams, and all too often I see entrepreneurs put the focus in the wrong areas and spending time on parts that they will never truly own themselves.
Always remember that you’re “home base” your website will always be most important. Of course, social media is a wonderful, often free addition for us who own our small business to connect to clients and customers, but ensuring that we have a way to connect even without it is vital in ensuring that our business will do great longterm.
July 03, 2019 — Elena Ringeisen