Facebook’s news ban earlier this year took many Aussies by surprise. However, those most surprised were the small businesses and retailers that saw their pages blocked because of Facebook’s algorithmic categorisation of ‘news’.

Small businesses and retailers have leveraged Facebook for years now to reach customers, both existing and new, and have invested their marketing money into the platform to build brand awareness. And until recently, this investment has been seemingly infallible, with 75% of Facebook users visiting a local business page at least once a week.

Although the news ban was quickly reverted, many small business owners felt like they had the rug pulled out from under them. Understandably, they’re now left feeling unsettled by the possibility of something like this happening again with Facebook, or any other tech platform that serves important marketing purposes.

Although we can’t predict the future of our big tech platforms, we can instead advise that SMEs take a multichannel approach to digital marketing, creating a more robust business strategy to help withstand life’s uncertainties.

Was no news on Facebook a good thing?

According to Chartbeat, a content intelligence platform for publishers, total traffic to 250 Australian news websites fell 13% on the day of the ban. Interestingly, Chartbeat also found that lost traffic didn’t turn up elsewhere on other platforms. With less news circulating through Facebook, there could have been some potential uplift for your brand. Perhaps go back and analyse your reach numbers and engagement metrics for the period affected by the ban. You may notice some satisfying spikes.

Remember email lists?

Despite the popular notion, email is not dead. A great rule when it comes to your email list is to work hard at growing your numbers of subscribers making sure your customer database is bigger than your social following. Content-heavy brands like Time Out and Urban List made a swift pivot to email newsletters when the Facebook ban effectively cut them off. It was a savvy move from a category of businesses with valuable lifestyle and cultural content to offer its audiences. Get to the heart of what it is your customers want to hear from you and milk that email sign up on your website and social channels for all it’s worth. Don’t forget that balance is key with email marketing – the top three reasons people unsubscribe are too many emails; irrelevant content; and they don’t recognise the brand.

Are you taking advantage of ‘consumers in control’?

Australian consumers are more mindful about the brands they buy from and how stories of localness are driving brand advocacy and ultimately repeat purchases, according to research late last year looking at the impact of COVID-19. Many consumers expressed shopping and brand discovery as something they could control during the pandemic and as a result chose to be more deliberate in their decision making. If you’re a local retailer with a local story to tell, now could be a good time to start tapping into that and sharing it across social media. Talk about how your Facebook posts disappeared momentarily and the need for your followers to show their support across other channels. Use their emotional connection to your brand to emphasise the need for them to get behind you when the unexpected happens.

Should you be automating more?

If Facebook continues to be your sole social media channel, it’s a good time to diversify where you’re sharing your content. Seeking out your audience on other channels and creating content that speaks to them there will future-proof your digital presence. Although that sounds easy enough to do in theory, if you have a small team or are a sole trader wearing many operational hats, finding the time to invest in multiple channels can be overwhelming.

That’s where good technology comes in to alleviate some of the pressure. Trial a social media tool that can help you streamline your multichannel approach and content calendar. For example, users of the Metigy platform can now post directly to Instagram and save time when posting across various channels. I always suggest seeking a social media tool you  can try for free and make sure there are no lock-in contracts so you’re always in control.

David Fairfull is CEO and co-founder for Metigy