In this episode of Actionable Marketing In Minutes we discuss the risks you face as a digital sharecropper.

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First of all, this one of our ‘opinion pieces’ that was voiced by one of our employees. And while it may not be my opinion, I think it has some merit in the implication. So you’ll have to tell us what you think.

Do you remember learning about sharecropping in school? It came about right after the Civil War. Freed slaves in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina were promised 40 acres and a mule by General Sherman and others with Special Field Order no.15. But it didn’t pan out that way. After President Lincoln was assassinated, the new president – Andrew Johnson – revoked the order and gave all the land to ex-confederate soldiers.

Sharecropping evolved at this time for both the freed slaves and for many poor, displaced white folks too. They became tenants for the rich landowners who needed their crops worked.

This system allowed the tenant to farm a parcel of land in exchange for a percentage of the crop. It didn’t benefit the sharecropper much because the system was not rigged in his or her favor and s/he usually ended up indebted to the landowner and tied to the land his entire life.

You may be wondering what this history lesson has to do with digital marketing. Let’s think of our relationship with Facebook – or any other social media platform.

Aren’t we doing all the work producing content and engaging with members of the social platform? Aren’t we ensuring the success of these social platforms with all our efforts? Sure, it is our audience that we’re targeting but like sharecroppers, it appears we may be working at the whim of these large social media owners. So, we are sharecroppers – digital sharecroppers.

As with sharecroppers of old this places us in a situation where we are dependent and are unable to predict what changes a social media platform may define at any time. And, how those changes could adversely affect us.

If you’ve been with Facebook for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed many changes throughout the years. Fairly recently one change is that your Likes (formerly fans) don’t see all your posts. Actually, they only see a small percentage. But, if you pay for ads, you will see more action. This change is only one that in recent times.

And, just this year, Facebook has begun to prioritize friend posts over business page posts. That will most certainly affect most of us.

Of course, the stories we’re hearing don’t concern Facebook alone. Policies shift and algorithms change all the time with all social media platforms.


So, what can we do? We certainly don’t want to sever ties with social media platforms. They do offer us many benefits we just can’t do without. Such benefits as the ability to:

* Glean customer insights through engagement and social listening.

* Increase brand awareness and loyalty. In fact, studies show those who follow you on social are 53% more loyal to you.

* Turn inexpensive, targeted ads that reach your specific target market.

* Generate higher conversions and sales.

* Provide a better customer service experience.

* Increase both your website traffic and your search engine ranking.

So, it’s clear we do need social media marketing. Social should be used as an integral piece of your marketing plan. But only one piece. We must be mindful to not put all our eggs in one basket, so to speak. Your plan should be to leverage their audience to build your own. Kind of like saving for a rainy day.


Though social media is integral, we don’t want to allow it to become the foundation of our strategy or even a main source of your business. And realize that while the social media platforms need your advertising dollars, you are just one of their many stakeholders and decisions they take may not be beneficial to you. Get what you can from it – which is substantial – but don’t depend solely on it.

Make sure you have a stupendous site – chocked full of rich content – and that you’re linking back to it from all your social media channels. Encourage visitors to sign up for your newsletter so you will have their contact information, should something go awry with one of your social platforms.

If your website engages your visitors, they’ll come back time and time again. And, that is where your focus should be.

We hope you’ve found this information helpful. Please connect with us on Twitter @DirectiveGroup or on LinkedIn. Let us know what you think and what you’d like to hear about next. And if you like our podcasts please share with your networks using hashtag #actionablemarketing.

Join us for a future episode as we discuss content discovery platforms, when, how and why would they be useful?