How Being Down With O.P.P. Online Can Doom Your Biz

image of building being torn down by construction equipment

When our daughter was younger, one of our favorite places to eat was Nobu’s, a Japanese restaurant located in an old IHOP near our house.

For 20+ years, Chef Nobu, wearing his trademark blue bandana on his head, was a fixture behind the sushi bar…

**Expertly rolling up beds of sushi rice.

**Lovingly arranging generous cuts of sushi and sashimi on plates for his guests.

**Smiling, talking and laughing with guests sitting at the bar.

It was one of our favorite hangouts. We went so often that one day my daughter wrapped her little blue blankie around her head, proudly proclaiming, “I’m Nobu from Nobu’s!

Ah, high schoolers do the cutest things. (Kidding. She was 4 at the time 😉

What Comes Next?

Anyhoo, a few years ago, the building and land where Nobu’s restaurant stood for 2(ish) decades were sold to a development company. All the businesses were kicked out, and the strip mall was bulldozed to make room for a Costco and new retail shops.

As the deal was being finalized, I saw an interview with Nobu in a local paper. The gist of it was: he and his wife didn’t have much savings; they didn’t want to close their doors but didn’t have a choice, and; like many of their business neighbors who got the heave-ho, they weren’t sure what they were going to do next.

The Danger of Building on O.P.P.

Unfortunately, this isn’t an uncommon scenario when you build a business on someone else’s property.

Both in the real world… and online.

As many of you long-time readers know, I’ve never been a fan of so-shill media.

It absolutely has its place in a business’s marketing mix and, when leveraged in the right ways, can help your biz get a lot of attention.

But never forget:
With all of these online so-shill sites and apps, you’re building your following on O.P.P. – Other People’s Property.

Which is a perilous position to put your biz in.

Your “Followers” Really Aren’t Yours

Understand this:

Those 25,000 followers you have on Instagram… your 3,400 LinkedIn connections… the 110K Twitter followers you’ve built up…

… they’re not really yours.

They are users that belong to Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter, etc. Those platforms are letting their users follow you out of the kindness of their hearts.

Ha! Just kidding. They’re doing it cuz they’re making a buttload of money off you and your followers!

It Happens All The Time

Here’s the cold, hard truth about building on O.P.P…

***The platforms can change their algorithms so very few of your followers will see anything you post (just ask those who built up huge Fakebook followings and now have to pay for the privilege of reaching their audience there).

***They fall out of favor, and their once beloved platform becomes about as popular as a bacon platter at a bar-mitzvah (remember MySpace?).

***They can change the type of content they feature in users’ feeds (look no further than the recent user revolt at Instagram when the platform tried to turn itself into TikTok).

***They can change their revenue splits and, overnight, your income takes a huge hit (ask Twitchers how they feel about going from a 70/30 to a 50/50 split).

***Or, what if the government bans a platform because it’s owned by a foreign government that’s likely using the app to spy on citizens (worried about this TikTok users?).

***Or, I don’t know, let’s say an often childish – and always unpredictable – billionaire buys the platform and turns things into a “toxic hellhole”… (or not; we’ll soon see what happens with Twitter!)

Listen, want to build a big following on so-shill media? Go for it. Don’t let grumpy old blokes like us stop you.

Get Some Control Over Your Biz

But have a plan to get those followers onto a platform you have more control over.

The sooner, the better!

Ideally, that’s your email list. It’s the most “controllable” digital platform there is.

If you’re anti-email for some reason, your website or even a podcast could work too. (But seriously, shoot for email because it’s the best way to build a tight relationship with your true followers.)

As for “Nobu from Nobu’s,” I hear he just opened a new joint nearly 2 years after being kicked out of the old one. Because it is possible to get a fresh start after the rug gets pulled out from under you.   

It remains to be seen if his new place will do as well as the original. I hope it does. He’s a good guy and a great sushi chef. He deserves it.

But you never know.

Which is why it’s so dangerous to be down with O.P.P. Better to build things on your own property as much as possible so a big development company – or a so-shill media platform run by an unpredictable billionaire – can’t get between you and your audience and kneecap your business.

Featured image credit: “Land of Monsters” by Editor B is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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