No doubt you’ve heard this warning about Facebook before, but I’m here to tell you again. Don’t rely on Facebook as your main business information outlet and contact. It can disappear without warning.
I know this from personal experience. Long story short, I received an email from Facebook that someone had requested my password be reset. Was it me? I emailed back that it had not been me. The answer? My account was suspended, and I had 30 days to contest it or the site would be permanently disabled.
So, I contested and supplied all the information Facebook requested.
I received a dozen emails from Facebook asking me if I tried to login or telling me I needed to send more info. I spent several hours trying to solve an issue I didn’t create and a few hours stressing.
The result of my efforts to exonerate my page?
“Hi Barbara, We’ve determined that you are ineligible to use Facebook. To learn more about Facebook’s policies, please review the Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities:https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms?ref=cr Unfortunately, for safety and security reasons, we can’t provide additional information as to why your account was disabled. We appreciate your understanding, as this decision is final. Thanks”
Had I written anything controversial or against another person? You be the judge: My last post was about a sweet friend who’d just died. The post before that was about my mother on what would have been her 110th birthday.
Oh, and they don’t tell you up front, but Facebook expulsion also gives you an Instagram boot out. This goes without saying since they are the same company, but I thought I’d say it, anyway.
It Doesn’t Matter How Long You Have Been a Facebook User
I’d have to check on Facebook (which I can’t) to tell you how long I was a Facebook participant, but it was over 12 years.
In a flash, I could contact no one. Facebook took all my photos (I have copies but still. . . ), all my posts, my memes, messages from friends, names of friends, thousands of contacts, etc. If I didn’t have a friend’s email account on my mail server, I couldn’t reach them.
What About Your Business?
As of this writing, all my ancillary pages are still on Facebook. You might think that is good, but I have no way to update or access them, or even read the content, unless I ask someone else to do it. And who wants their name attached to someone who has been thrown into the Facebook dungeon?
There’s no need to feel sorry for me. Facebook can do whatever it wants with its own business. And I was a half-hearted Facebook participant. I didn’t enjoy the drama. I’d had the whole you-need-a-web-page-and-a-newsletter thing drilled into my head eons ago, so The Riding Instructor is okay.
But I’ve seen so many stables and riding programs on Facebook and Instagram that didn’t have a corresponding web page. I can feel the blow they would have if this ever happened to them.
2 Important Things For Your Business
If you have a business teaching riding or running a stable, I urge you to have a website. You can do a basic website on WordPress or Wix for little or no money, or you can be elaborate and pay for a domain name and a hosting service. Give your followers a way to contact you, if your Facebook page ever goes down.
The best online service and credential you can give your business is a newsletter.
I’m not suggesting you do this instead of Facebook, but in addition to it. There are newsletter services that allow up to a certain number of subscribers (usually 1,000- 2,000 depending on the company) without charge. When you are set up, add a newsletter CTA to your Facebook page. Once you have subscribers, download the list to your computer for safekeeping and update it periodically. Examples of newsletter hosting services are MailerLite and Aweber. I have been happy with Sendinblue.
Other Positives About Having a Website
Sharing content. Since you can have pages on a website that don’t evolve away (like Facebook and Instagram do) you can list your services, facility, and achievements and they are always there for consumers.
Facebook pages are great for current news, but they are awkward when it comes to letting potential clients know about your services and fees.
You can also list your business with Google, so your web address shows up on a Google map when people search for riding lessons in your area.
Websites are good for branding, and they make a business appear more legitimate. A riding lesson business with only Instagram and Facebook accounts can seem fly-by-night.
And if Facebook decides to lock you out and you don’t have a backup, you might very well be here today and gone tomorrow.
Facebook is great for letting students know if lessons are canceled due to weather, who won at the last show, events that are coming up, and horses you have for sale (minus prices). Facebook is a definite convenience in that department, until it’s not.
Websites are the place to let customers and potential customers know who you truly are and what you do. Newsletters are prime for keeping students and followers involved and for hanging onto contact information.
It’s Worth the Effort
It takes just a little bit of work and maintenance to set up a simple free website and a little more to get a newsletter going. It’s not much more than the time you would spend on Facebook and Instagram, so why not do it? Once you are set up, you can let everyone know about your new website and your newsletter through your Facebook and Instagram accounts. It’s a win/win for you.
Professional to Professional
My best professional suggestion to any instructor who doesn’t have a website and a newsletter is to get them started right away.
Once you are up and going, sign up for the RI news and share your new web address.
Keep warm. Enjoy the holiday season and go for a great ride.
Barbara Ellin Fox