Protect yourself from Platform Risk
4 min read

Protect yourself from Platform Risk

Social platforms are suspending accounts a lot more often now. Here's what you can do to protect yourself from losing your audience.
Protect yourself from Platform Risk

Every so often, someone with a large following on one of these platforms gets suspended. Others even get permanently banned and lose their entire following. Magunga and Edgar Obare are recent examples.

Magunga built an audience of 40k+ followers on Twitter over 10yrs. In his own words, Twitter is his value and a source for business leads.

During the pandemic, he started posting afro-latin dance videos. Dancing kept him and his girlfriend sane and he shared this with his audience. Unfortunately, the music on these videos was copyright protected. Twitter sent him DMCA notices to take down the affected videos, which he did.

One morning last July, Magunga woke up to a suspended Twitter account. The reason? A video he posted in 2018 had copyrighted music.

Edgar Obare's story is similar. He built an audience of 1 million+ followers on Instagram sharing the latest 'tea'. Every day, hundreds of thousands flocked to his Instagram to get the latest scoop.

In August of 2021, Instagram suspended his main account after a money laundering expose. He directed his audience to his business account Bnnke and continued sharing content. In December, Instagram also suspended BnnKe.

This is platform risk.

The platform owns your audience. The platform has the power to disconnect you from them.

2020 was a big year for content moderation. The US general election polarised the internet so much, platforms needed to step up. Big names like Trump, the US president, were de-platformed. Since then, more creators with controversial content have suffered the same fate.

How can you protect yourself from platform risk?

Let's talk about the audience ownership pyramid.

The audience ownership pyramid

The Rented Audience

At the very bottom is the borrowed or rented audience. This is your audience on large, popular platforms you have no control over. Platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.

The Pros

  • Your target audience likely uses them regularly
  • They have a wide reach
  • The barrier for people to join your audience is low
  • It's acceptable to show your own personality outside your focused content

The Cons

  • You can't transfer your audience from the platform
  • Your content is in competition with millions of others
  • All accounts look the same. It's difficult to express your brand or tailor experiences specific to your audience
  • They do a terrible job of organizing your content
  • It's difficult to do longer form content
  • You are subject to the rules of the platform and have little say on them.
  • There's the risk of being de-platformed
  • Your content usually has to be free

The Owned Audience

Above that, is the owned audience. The audience that you have control over. Newsletters, podcasts and Telegram/WhatsApp/Discord groups fall in this category. Creators will typically funnel their rented audience to their owned audience. The more committed people in your rented audience join your owned audience.

Fortunately for Magunga and Edgar, they had built blogs popular in their audiences. Magunga's had over 100k newsletter subscribers. He could still reach them outside Twitter. Edgar's doesn't seem to have a newsletter.

Edgar also setup a Telegram channel, BNN Basic, for his content. It now has 118k members that he reaches directly.

The Pros

  • You can freely transfer your audience
  • You can tailor the user experience to your audience
  • You set the rules
  • It's a lot easier to organize your content
  • You are free to choose how to present content, allowing for longer form or custom content
  • You can directly communicate with your audience, noise-free
  • You can sell services or merchandise to your audience
  • You can sell sponsorships

The cons

  • Because they're specific to your content, they have zero reach on their own. You have to promote your content on other platforms like social media and search engines
  • There's significant work involved in the setup and maintenance of your chosen platform

The Monetized Audience

At the top of this pyramid is the monetized audience. Your most committed audience directly paying for your content. Pay-walled content, communities and newsletters fall in this category. Tools like Substack, Circle, Patreon and Ghost make it easy to launch and manage paid content.

This is the holy grail for creators. Creators can focus on good content, not spending time raising money.

Edgar Obare recently launched a paid Telegram channel that grew to 5k users in 1 week! At an annual fee of Kes 600, that's an annual recurring revenue of Kes 3M in a week!

Next Steps

Funneling your audience up the pyramid is a great way to mitigate platform risk. It's a proven strategy to create resilience in your content-based business.

Unfortunately, Kenyans have limited access to platforms built for monetizing content. These tools are mostly built on Stripe payments which doesn't support the Kenyan market. Edgar for instance uses an Mpesa Till number and manually manages memberships.

The good news is, great platforms to manage your owned audience exist.

I use Ghost to run my blog and newsletter. It's an open-source platform that's easy to maintain. I chose it over Wordpress because it offers a focused publishing experience with a newsletter, paid subscriptions and search engine optimization (SEO) built in. Wordpress is great, but it tries to be everything for everyone and ends up being mediocre for all.

Ghost only supports Stripe at the moment, so paid subscriptions are inaccessible from Kenya. I'll build an integration to support Kenyan payments like Mpesa at some point.

If you'd like to protect yourself from platform risk, I build and host blogs and newsletters on the Ghost platform. Book a free consultation and let's talk!