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“I remember waking up in horror one morning in 2019 when I opened Instagram with an error message: You have been logged out. One of my biggest sites was disabled at the time for an unknown reason, "recalls Elijiah Pitman, an Australian social media expert and CEO of Clout Media.
Pitman had grown a social media business to over 100,000 followers on Instagram, but that tragic day it was over. Just like that, all of his hard work disappeared – with no explanation, no concession, no appeal.
Social media is clearly the most important marketing tool of the last decade, but as many are gradually discovering, it's a double-edged sword that can cut you when you least expect it.
What happened to Pitman isn't as strange or distant as you might expect. Many business leaders have faced a similar fate, losing many followers and business relationships overnight. But that unfortunate situation didn't kill Pitman's dream. On the contrary, he built one of his biggest followers on another of his Instagram pages, gained over 500,000 followers in three months and built a thriving business on it.
Pitman has since tried to help other entrepreneurs build their social media followers and teach them how to use them to build longevity. It's a cautionary story with a happy ending. But here are a couple of stark lessons he learned along the way.
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1. Don't rely solely on social media
It's very easy to build 100 percent of your business on social media. Use the ads, stories, and all other creative ways to get your business to market. But one important lesson Pitman's tragedy taught him: Don't just build your business on social media, or as John Obidi would put it, "Don't build your home on rented land."
Entrepreneurs should learn to systematically remove their business from social media. Pitman's use of this strategy creates strong support for his customers in case they ever experience a social media tragedy like his. You need to create different ways to move your followers to your email marketing list or Telegram / WhatsApp group.
You can do this by offering certain free services, products, or information while using email bait and other strategies to ensure you keep your followers and business contacts secure.
2. Build a reputation that extends beyond social media.
Pitman cites his reputation before and after the tragedy as the main reason for his success at Clout Media. "I was able to make connections and improve my reputation," he says. "From then on, positive customer feedback and reputation have enabled CloutMedia to remain a force in the industry."
This approach is not about your products and services, but more about your personal reputation. If you can make a name for yourself that people can trust, it can be carried over to any other company and platform – social media or not.
Because of this, Pitman believes it is absolutely essential to be a recognizable face behind the business and to maintain the integrity of your business. That way, even tragedy cannot stop you.
3. Proceed across platforms
The hard work in building a strong cross-platform approach to business on social media is probably why people tend to shy away from it. But it's also why Pitman's company has become so relevant.
His insistence on having a strong presence and activity across multiple platforms rather than settling on one is a breeze because of his experience. Still, it's a strategy he advocates for companies that need to appeal to a diverse audience.
The different platforms offer you a large number of people and the recognizability on many platforms guarantees you and your company a long service life.
4. Get hyper customer-centric
The main characteristic of CloutMedia is how customer focused they are in their operation. This is a result of Pitman's tragic experience on Instagram and one of the reasons for his current success. Social media is the temptation to be so satisfied with views, likes, comments, and orders that you fail to recognize your biggest followers and customers and deal with them appropriately.
Building a highly individualized relationship with your social media followers will protect some relationships that go beyond likes and comments and certainly go beyond any tragedy.
This helped save Pitman sooner as the real connection was his first reason to join social media. He says: “I have always had a passion for connecting with people and experiencing different cultures and lifestyles. On my part, I have been able to do this and drive and motivate the next three years of company growth to help other companies and personalities achieve their goals in the ever-growing climate of today's social media
5. Reinvest in yourself
In the end, you are the business and the business is you. The company can never become more important than you, and any beneficial investment in yourself is ultimately an investment in the company.
Pitman's social media tragedy showed him the value of all the good books he had read and the investments he had made in himself. The inner structures that formed within him helped him lift himself up on his proverbial boot straps and stubbornly carry on.
His best advice for entrepreneurs is to say simply, "Invest most of your resources in yourself".
Nobody owns social media, and just as easily as you can get a place on it, you can just as easily lose it. The only thing that cannot be canceled is you. The Pitman success story reminds us all that tragedy is common in business but it should not define or limit progress.
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