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“I remember waking up one morning in 2019 in horror, as I opened Instagram to an error message: You were logged out. One of my biggest pages at that time was disabled 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 100k followers on Instagram, but on that tragic day, it was gone. Just like that, all his hard work vanished—with no explanations, no concessions, and no appeal.
Social media is clearly the most important marketing tool of the last decade, but as many are beginning to find out, it is a double-edged sword and can cut you when you least expect it.
What happened to Pitman is not as strange or far removed as you might expect. Many business leaders have experienced a similar fate, losing loads of followers and business connections overnight. But this unfortunate situation didn’t kill Pitman’s dream. Quite the contrary, he went on to build one of his largest followings on another one of his Instagram pages, gaining over 500k followers in three months and building a thriving business around it.
Pitman has since sought to help other entrepreneurs build their social media followings, teaching them how to leverage it to build longevity. His is a cautionary tale with a happy ending. But here are a few glaring lessons he learned along the way.
1. Don’t build exclusively on social media
It’s very easy to build 100 percent of your business on social media. Take advantage of the ads, stories, and all other creative avenues to get your business out there. But one major lesson Pitman’s tragedy has taught him: Don’t only build your business on social media or as John Obidi would say it, “Don’t build your house on rented land.”
Entrepreneurs should learn to move their business off social media systematically. Pitman’s use of this strategy creates a strong backup for his clients should they ever have a social media tragedy like his. You need to create diverse avenues to move your followers into your e-mail marketing list or telegram/WhatsApp group.
You can do this by offering certain free services, products, or information while using mail baits and other strategies to make sure you back your followers and business contacts up.
2. Build a reputation beyond social media.
Pitman credits his great reputation before and after the tragedy to be the main reason for his success with Clout Media. “I was able to establish connections and increase my reputation,” he says. “From then on, positive client feedback and reputation is what has allowed for CloutMedia to remain a force in the industry.”
This approach doesn’t revolve around your product and services, but more on your personal reputation. If you can build a name for yourself that people can trust, it can be carried over into any other venture and platform—social media or not.
This is why Pitman thinks it is absolutely necessary to be a recognizable face behind the business and uphold integrity in your dealings. This way, even tragedy cannot stop you.
3. Take a multi-platform approach
The hard work involved in building a strong multi-platform approach to business on social media is probably the reason why people tend to shy away from doing it. But it’s also why Pitman’s company has become so relevant.
His insistence on having a strong presence and activity on multiple platforms rather than settling on one is a no-brainer based on his experience. Still, it is a strategy he advocates for businesses that need to appeal to a diverse audience.
The various platforms offer you a variety of people and being recognizable on many platforms is almost guaranteed to give you and your business longevity.
4. Become hyper-client oriented
CloutMedia’s staple characteristic is how client-oriented they are in their operations. This is a spillover from Pitman’s tragic experience on Instagram and one of the reasons for his current success. Social media presents the temptation to be satisfied with views, likes, comments, and orders so much so that you do not recognize your biggest followers and clients and engage with them reasonably.
Building a highly individualized relationship with your social media followers will protect some relationships beyond just the likes and comments and certainly beyond any tragedy.
This helped save Pitman earlier, as the genuine connection was his first reason for joining social media. He says, “ I have always had a passion for connecting with people and experiencing different cultures and lifestyles. My pages allowed me to do so, fueling and motivating the next three years of business growth as I aim to help other businesses and personalities reach 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 are, and every beneficial investment in yourself is ultimately an investment in the business.
Pitman’s social media tragedy showed him the value of all the good books he had read and investments he had made in himself. The internal structures these formed within him, helped him lift himself up by his proverbial bootstraps and push on doggedly.
His best advice for entrepreneurs has become the simple statement: “Reinvest most of your resources in yourself”.
No one owns social media and just as easily as you acquire a space on it, you can lose it just as easily. The only thing that cannot be canceled is you. Pitman’s success story reminds us all that tragedy is common to business, but should not be allowed to define or limit progress.