Your website is the lifeline of your business. 

But what happens when it's eliminated without any sort of notice? 

In this episode, we’re discussing a rather timely topic. Recently, more and more hosted platforms, like Shopify, have pulled content and businesses without any warning. This is quite terrifying and concerning especially for companies dependent on eCommerce sales. Luckily, there are things we can do to avoid this. 

Some topics we chat through: 

  • Open Source VS. Hosted Platform
  • Things to consider to ensure you have control over your assets
  • Where your target market could be instead of hosted platforms
Let us help and review your current platform to ensure you own your assets. 

Intro: You're listening to the Foremost Media Marketing Chat podcast, with Jon Ballard and Evan Facinger.

Evan Facinger: Hey, everyone. Welcome to another episode of the Foremost Media Marketing Chat Podcast. Today, we've got a pretty timely topic, I think, and it's in regards to a lot of changes, I think, that as a business you need to be aware of. And the big thing with this conversation is, we're totally going to keep politics completely out of the window here. It doesn't matter where you stand, what you believe, or anything else. But we are going to talk about how Shopify recently, without warning actually, pulled the Trump-affiliated websites, making it so there's no longer the e-commerce store. You can no longer go on there and make a purchase. That business is no longer operating. And like I said, politics aside, really what we're talking about here is whether or not you actually control your website.

Jon Ballard: Yeah, it's terrifying, really. I mean, one day you can be doing business online, and the next day they can just pull you based on their beliefs. We've had conversations with clients before about “what's the difference between a hosted system like Shopify, and a system you own like nopCommerce” or something along those lines. And this is one of the biggest glaring issues is, you run a hosted system like that, you don't have control of that so it's terrifying.

Evan Facinger: Exactly. And I think it's not just Shopify, I think that extends to some of the other popular platforms, like BigCommerce, for example. Shopify is the largest one at the moment. And we've always said too, that you need to be cognizant when you're building your audience on social platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn because you don't actually own your audience. The platforms own the audience there and you're always just an algorithm update away from no longer being able to reach them. But now with some of these changes, now we're seeing that same thing, you've got a question on the website as well, where supposedly you do own the platforms. And that's why we've always pushed for using things like open source, like nopCommerce for example, and there are quite a few other ones out there as well.

Jon Ballard: So let's talk about the difference between a hosted system, like a leased system, like Shopify or BigCommerce, and a system like nopCommerce or asp.net storefront, or WooCommerce even for example. Break that down for me. What's the real gut difference or total difference?

Evan Facinger: Well, the big difference is whether or not it's a company entity that they're allowing you to use their technology and their infrastructure and what they've built for you to have your website on there so you can have the sales, versus being able to have an open-source platform that you actually own everything on it. There is no corporate entity that's going to be able to dictate what happens and what doesn't happen.

Jon Ballard: So essentially, like Shopify, you're paying to use their solution. You're uploading all your data into their software. They're running updates and everything for you on that platform and it's a nice system. But at the end of the day, you don't own it. So at a whim, they can say, "Oh, we don't want gun manufacturers on here or we don't want Trump supporters on here," or whatever that might be and whatever the political, cool, correctness thing is to do, you're out. So what do you do? Your business is essentially done with no warning online. And the same thing is true too with, like you said, on social platforms. I remember Facebook awhile ago took a stance on gun manufacturers where they wouldn't allow advertising for those types of things. There's quite a few categories they don't allow listings on. So putting all your eggs in one basket, such as social media advertising, or even Google can be pretty aggressive about restricting ads and even some categories of vendors on their platform. So what's a person to do?

Evan Facinger: I think that you've got to hedge your bets. Like you said, you don't want to have all of your eggs in one basket and you want to make sure that you are building an ability to contact your customers and potential customers in assets that you own. Now, email is always been a big aspect for that because when you do get people's email addresses, you are able to go and contact them. You don't have to rely on things like social platforms changing their algorithms. And we've seen that before too. It's not just restricting the ads and it's not just potentially businesses that typically get hit harder like the firearms industry. A lot of nutritional supplements can get hit. CBD is a big thing as well. But we've seen it with Facebook, just any sort of company. When you first were getting Facebook likes to your company page many years ago, you were able to reach almost everyone who liked your page.

Evan Facinger: Now, it's pay for play, with only a small percentage of your followers being able to see your posts unless you're paying to boost them. So there's a lot of things that you need to consider when you're taking a look at building an audience and really, quite frankly, running a business. Who owns what? Do you have control of your website? Is there somebody else that can shut you down? How are you contacting people that are in your audience? Is there somebody else in the middle that's going to eliminate the possibility for you to reach them effectively? And just making sure that you're doing things that are going to put you in a safer position.

Jon Ballard: Yeah, I'm really big on, especially industries like the gun industry and some of those, getting into some of those niche sites are not big commercial sites, but that's where your audience is anyway. And also, there are all sorts of gun talk forums and some of those things that are kind of overlooked by people. Typically, advertisers tend to steer towards the big platforms that are well known like Facebook and Google AdWords and those types of things. But really, a lot of your market can live in other places, so getting creative about where to market is also a good idea, or start your own community that you control.

Evan Facinger: Yeah, exactly. And I think that that's what everybody's going to have to do as these things progress and as more changes happen and other industries become effected. I don't think that this is just the mark of our current climate right now. I think it's something that's going to be a part of it forever because it already has been a part of it for a long time. We've seen a lot of these changes take place, over the course of the past decade. So nothing is going to be, I think, out of the realm of possibilities.

Evan Facinger: And it's just all about taking a look at how you're doing things and making sure that you're, like you said, being creative, thinking things through making sure that you're protected overall because the scariest thing about when they stopped the Trump-affiliated websites is there was no notice. There wasn't, only a month or in the next 30 days, this is going to happen. They were just cut immediately. And I think that, as a business owner, like I said, regardless of where you stand in your politics, you have to be concerned that somebody else can make that decision for you.

Jon Ballard: Just to even prove the point further, look at Parler. I don't know if you guys have heard of that before, but it's a liberal, or excuse me, a right-wing, conservative version of Facebook. A lot of people on Trump's side were abandoning Facebook to go over towards Parler, which is kind of essentially the same thing. But they built themselves as a free-speech alternative and saying they weren't filtering and those types of things. But yesterday, Google and Apple both removed Parler from their app store. So you can't even download it. It was the number one download for quite a while.

Evan Facinger: Even Amazon pulled it too.

Jon Ballard: Yup, off their servers. So it's something that, you may think you have control, but I would really encourage all of you to just look at who has control of your website. What happens if your website company goes out of business as well? Do you have backup copies of that information? Do you have access to the hosting? All those things are really something that you can consider because you're building and investing significant money in your development, you make sure you choose a partner that has those types of plans in place, backups, is not going to be swayed by what's going on in politics these days, or what's politically correct necessarily so that you have protection for your business.

Evan Facinger: And I think that's a great point. I think that that might be the best point to end it on, unless you had anything else you wanted to add?

Jon Ballard: No, just an interesting time for sure. And no matter what side you're on, I think this should scare you a little bit because this is really out of our control. The company can just decide they don't like you or don't like your product, and your business could be gone like Parler. I mean, I think they were evaluated in the almost billion-dollar range when I think I last heard, and they're gone today because it basically got shut down by Apple and Google.

Evan Facinger: Wow, it's amazing.

Jon Ballard: Terrifying. But anyway, make sure your assets are in order. I'd leave you with that. And if you need help, I guess, give us a call, Foremost Media. We definitely work with a lot of industries, and as long as it's legal, we would love to work with you and talk with you.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the Foremost Media Marketing Chat Podcast. Don't forget to like and subscribe so you can stay on top of your game by never missing an episode. You can find even more marketing insights and show transcripts at foremostmedia.com.


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