I've discussed this with friends and other business owners: We're all ready to leave Facebook.

The decision to de-activate a social media account isn't easy. Business owners rightly ask how much it'll cost them to leave since several of their customers use it regularly. Even if your customers aren't ready to cut the Facebook cord, more are cutting back and that's not good news for those who rely on the platform to market their businesses. 

I've long argued for small business owners to ramp up their other marketing tactics, such as building their email lists or having a more diverse and varied portfolio or marketing ideas, rather than rely on a "free" social media platform that's hardly free at all. If personal users start deleting access to their accounts or dialing back, how will you reach them?

At face value, the numbers remain impressive. Among U.S. adults who use Facebook, 74 percent admit they visit the site at least once a day, according to Pew Research

Digging into those numbers, though, I notice users are dialing back. That same Pew Research shares that many users have a complicated relationship with Facebook, and 54 percent have adjusted their privacy settings earlier this year in light of news that their data was collected without their permission. About four in 10 have taken breaks for several weeks to a whole quarter without checking in and 26 percent, which includes me, have deleted the app from the phone at some point this year. 

Social media and the internet has changed the way people consume media and relate to businesses. You can reconnect or stay connected with friends, family, and colleagues. It's become really easy to connect with businesses you support.

Privacy concerns are very real concerns, though, and probably weighing heavily on you. The stats show that a lot of people are keeping their accounts, for now, but being less active on them. That's troubling to businesses who use the site as their main form of delivering their marketing messages. 

A client of mine recently asked me if she should shut down her Facebook business account. I advised her against it. People are definitely taking hiatuses, limiting their time on the platform, or deleting their accounts--but they're not leaving in droves.

Your business should still have an active presence on Facebook right now. Having a business page is just as, if not more, important than a business website right now. Users still expect that page to exist. They know they can reach a business contact through the platform.

Also, Facebook remains the top social networking site in the world and the third most visited site on the Internet, after Google and YouTube, despite market fluctuations and controversies.

That said, your marketing shouldn't ever focus on just one platform or strategy. With an ever-changing business landscape, having a diverse marketing plan will prove smart and successful in the long-run.

Rather than relying on any one platform, such as Facebook, what can you put into place today to build your email list, an asset that is yours and won't disappear tomorrow should the platform shut down? When was the last time you surveyed your clients to learn where they get information on your products or services? Direct mail can be a powerful marketing medium and postcards are still a budget-friendly option for many businesses. 

You don't need to market with a broad brush but it is important to reach out to customers in a few different ways. For one, you don't always know what will catch their eye at any given time but secondly, by having a number of contact points, you increase the chances of being seen and heard when your customers are ready to act.

Published on: Jan 2, 2019