Digging through the dumpster for scraps

Question of the day: Whose business are you building?

Most business owners hear that and assume the answer is “my own.” They think that only employees are building someone else’s business.

But that’s not necessarily true.

It’s entirely possible to be self-employed and still be spending most of your time building someone else’s business. In fact it’s not even uncommon.

Confused yet?

I’m talking about social media marketing. In particular, the muffin brain notion that if you’re building a following on social media, this counts as business building.

Well, in fact it does. The problem is you’re building the Zuck’s business. Or Elon Musk’s. Or whoever owns LinkedIn.

Just not yours.

At best you’re timidly hoping that these benevolent overlords will continue letting you siphon off a tiny little drop of business here and there in return for all of your backbreaking and time-sucking labor in helping them grow their mega empires.

Because you don’t own any of your customer information on these platforms. You don’t control or really even understand the algorithm.

And when you do “market” to your followers, only a tiny fraction of them actually see it. And only the ones The Platform arbitrarily decides its fit for.

I’m not saying you have to get off social media or that there’s no use for it. It is wildly overrated as a marketing and sales tool, but certainly not useless.

However, I will say this: if your business is built through social media marketing, you don’t have a business.

You’re sitting out back of the building, eating out of the dumpster, pretending you own the restaurant.

You don’t. You’re living off the scraps from someone else’s business.

And they can choose to take those scraps away — even pull them directly from your grubby little fingers — any time they want.

Oh, and they do this all the time.

That’s why I always say the only legitimate use for social media is getting people off the platform and onto your private list.


Though I’m well aware that most people won’t, because that requires doing things differently, and that makes people uncomfortable. Chasing the hamster-wheel dopamine rush of social media “hi-fives” from people who will never buy from you is way easier and (sadly) more seductive for many.

Anyway, the point is that if you want to build a thriving and stable business, social media marketing ain’t gonna deliver that.

If you want to know what to do instead (it’s different for every business, though the principles are the same), maybe we should talk.

Jeff Vece