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Don't be a Marilyn —build an email list!

I'd like to tell you a little story about an acquaintance of mine (we'll call her Marilyn) who lost 20,000 followers on Instagram overnight, and it wasn't her fault! —well, not entirely.

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You see, the internet is going through an interesting time right now and we won't know the exact impact of recent events on our beloved social media apps until a few years into the future, but right now, one thing seems clear: email is still Queen.

See, Marilyn decided to create an Instagram account to share stories of historical figures. Sounds basic enough, right? Each post featured an old photo and an interesting story. A simple recipe that became very successful. She grew to over 20,000 followers in a year. Marilyn was pleased by this. She was writing a book, and she hoped with the popularity of the Instagram account she would have a vast market to promote and sell her book to once it was published.

But what Marilyn did not account for was that Social Media can be a fickle beast. It's a free platform that Marilyn was using to share her research, but she did not own her connection to her followers. To her surprise, she went to log in to her account one day and discovered it was frozen. Some anonymous person had reported one of her posts as inappropriate and Instagram decided to freeze her account.

20,000 followers were gone overnight.

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Now, if she had simultaneously been collecting emails she would not have to start from scratch. Sure, 20,000 people might not have signed up to get those stories sent to their inbox, but a chunk of them would have. And a higher percentage of her email list would have purchased her book, than those on her Instagram following.

If you're an entrepreneur, you've probably heard at least two business coaches chatter about funnels, lead captures, and the importance of growing your own list (Here's one and two). And they're right!

When you pay a company like MailChimp or Wix to store an email list for you, their business is to serve you. Even if you're using their free service level, they hope that one day you will grow enough to pay for the upgraded levels. In contrast, Social Media is a free tool that is great to use for marketing and connecting with your community, but they don't really serve you, they serve their investors (think advertising). AND they could be gone next month! We never know. Remember Vine and Periscope?

Email, however, is here to stay awhile, at least until the next evolutionary step in direct messaging arrives —I'm hoping to see holographic messaging in my lifetime! Learn from Marilyn's frustrating story and build your own email list, today!

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