Walled Gardens: How they’re Changing Online Marketing for Small Business
By Jasmine Holmes
As an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy, hearing someone talk about walled gardens always brings to mind visions of clandestine hide-outs filled with exotic plants and magical creatures. Oh, how I wish they were talking about a fantasy wonderland, but they're not ...
Fundamentals and Fairies
The term walled garden is being used a lot in digital marketing. I don't normally put a lot of stock in staying on top of the latest buzzwords and trends in my industry; I'm a traditionalist when it comes to marketing. There are certain fundamentals that never change, though—focus on those and leave chasing trends to your competitors.
And for most small businesses, this is the only way to do marketing. You don't have the resources to chase the latest, "it" marketing trick. Though you may get a quick fix, in the long run you usually end up worse than had you done nothing.
And that brings me back to walled gardens because this is a trend that small businesses need to be aware of and pay attention to. In a nutshell, two of the biggest players in the digital world, Google and Facebook, have been slowly but methodically building walls around their content.
The Walls Between Us
Let's start with Facebook. If you're not familiar with the announcement in January 2018 that turned Facebook marketing on its head, read Social Media Examiner's Facebook Zero (https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/facebook-zero-changing-news-feed-what-marketers-need-to-know/) to get up to speed. Facebook wants to be a publisher, not a curator of content. They want users to post new and unique content that keeps viewers on the site. (Do you get it now? Facebook is building a magical, fairy-filled walled garden that you never want to leave.)
Google is making similar moves, though they've not made any overt announcements. They are pushing the "page 1" experience, wanting to provide as much information as possible on the first search page of search results. Great for users because they can find all the info they want in one place. Not so great for your website because searchers no longer have a reason to visit.
What does this mean for online marketing for small business? You are going to have to make a fundamental shift in how you approach digital marketing. For better or worse, Facebook – and especially Google – owns the marketplace. We can't ignore their walled gardens and hope they go away. You need to step outside your own walled garden –your company website.
I see this as an opportunity. Frankly, online marketing for small business had gotten a little stale. These moves by two of the major players created an amazing opportunity for the small business that's willing and open to creating a new marketing plan. There's still so much you can do to get found by your ideal customer, but it's going to focus less on your website (yes you still need one) and more on how you get content into these walled gardens.
If you're ready to explore options, I'd love to talk with you about it. Schedule your 30-Minute AHA! Session.
About the Author
With over 15 years of graphic design and marketing experience, Jasmine loves being able to say, “I’m older than I look.” Jasmine is the owner of 910 West, a digital marketing company serving small businesses in Gilbert. And winner of the 2019 Gilbert Chamber Small Business award.
When not working, you might find her at a farmer’s market buying locally grown veggies. Jasmine passionately believes in the power of small business and loves working with them to create lasting success.
That’s also why she’s deeply involved in her local business community. Jasmine is the 2020 – 2021 Board Chair of the Gilbert Chamber board and sometimes she feels like she works more for the chamber than her own business. Find her at an event and ask her about all the ways she participates (and how you can too!).