(By Kelly Spors)
“While social media platforms can provide a huge opportunity to business owners and entrepreneurs, relying too much on one site can be risky business. What if the social media site gets bought? What if it changes its rules or its algorithms and suddenly your business can no longer take advantage?“
Many businesses tap social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to help promote their services and better engage customers. But some entrepreneurs take it a step further: A social media site essentially becomes the business model.
In 2011, architect-turned-photographer Ike Edeani downloaded photo-sharing app Instagram and began using it informally to take artistic portraits of everything from scenery to household items. His photographs often gathered more than 1,000 “likes,” and he soon was named to Instagram’s coveted “suggested user list.” Major corporations like Samsung and their ad agencies discovered his posts, and offers for work began streaming in. “I owe Instagram a lot, and have received so many emails and offers for photography work,” he recently told VentureBeat.com.
However, Edeani says he’s careful not to accept too much work from corporations, as he wants to keep his work artistic and not overly commercial. He says he’ll only accept work from a company if he’s already a fan of its products. Today, Edeani has nearly 400,000 Instagram followers.
Edeani certainly isn’t the first person to build a reputation or successful business off a social media site. Many hotels and other travel providers surely owe much of their stellar reputation and revenues to traveler-recommendation site TripAdvisor.com. Many companies have made tons of money building apps and games for Facebook users or tools to better harness Twitter.
While social media platforms can provide a huge opportunity to business owners and entrepreneurs, relying too much on one site can be risky business. What if the social media site gets bought? What if it changes its rules or its algorithms and suddenly your business can no longer take advantage?
It happens. In spring 2012, Facebook video-sharing app Viddy.com was sitting pretty. The 30-person startup—hailed the “Instagram for video”—was valued at $370 million and had received more than $30 million in investor funding. But late last year, a nightmare hit: Facebook decided to stop directing traffic to Viddy due to complaints it was spamming users. Traffic to the app fell dramatically and earlier this year, the company laid off one-third of its employees, including its CEO and co-founder.
Facebook’s director of developer products, Douglas Purdy, told BusinessInsider.comthat the company is careful about how it doles out traffic to app makers and sends it to companies that are popular while taking it away from those that annoy users with too many notifications or are deemed unpopular. “We don’t want to be in the business of king-making,” he said.
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