I remember it like it was yesterday.
Don and I were at the Wichita airport. We were moving to Vegas that night. We’d just picked up our flight tickets and were walking over to security when Don checked his email on his cell phone.
“I just got a cease and desist from Facebook!”
I felt a mixture of shock and disbelief. Before I could even finish processing, he said, “You got one too!”
WHAT IS GOING ON!?
With weak knees, we both sat down at the nearest table to read everything more clearly.
The email said that our accounts were banned. We could no longer use the site, we couldn’t have anybody representing us on the site, we were done.
Neither of us could believe it. We were freaking out (to say the least).
The next day we were at the Wynn. We were staying there for a few days before we could move into our new home. At around 10am, we walked into the bar/cafe. Don ordered an espresso. I, to the shock of Don, ordered a shot of vodka. Then I emotionally ate the heck out of 2 bowls of bar snacks. I just kept eating and eating and eating.
This changed EVERYTHING.
Don was set to relaunch a product that made him 7 figures the last time. This cease and desist was a million dollar loss – MINIMUM – for him. He had to cancel the launch.
I had my first event lined up for 2 months later. I had all kinds of sponsors lined up – Kind bars, Runa tea, and 9 other companies. I’d already invested 5 figures into it, a ton of energy, and every ounce of my heart and soul.
My plan was to use Facebook Ads to promote my event. I do have a mailing list, but it’s not segmented out by location. I needed NYC-specific people since it was a one day affair that I didn’t expect people to fly in for.
My mind couldn’t register the idea of having to cancel my event. I figured I’d just work hard and bring in tickets another way.
And so I hustled. Hard. I threw money into paid traffic on AdWords, LinkedIn, Reddit, and Plenty Of Fish. I advertised in NYC newspapers. I emailed every relevant NYC-based meetup group owner I could find. I contacted business owners. I did everything I could think of.
But I still didn’t send enough traffic to the page.
2 weeks before the event was set to go live, I had to cancel it. It was devastating – but I didn’t want to waste the speakers’ and sponsors’ time.
Now, I should say – the short version of the cease and desist is that Facebook thought Don and I owned a tool that we didn’t. They didn’t do anything wrong – they were taking care of their users. The tool was something that had become against Facebook’s terms of service. We’d promoted it over a year ago, before people started doing creepy things with similar tools. We had proof to back up everything we were saying, but it was a long process, and it took us over 5 grueling months to get our accounts back.
I learned so much during this intense process – both personally and professionally. One of the biggest business insights, though, was this:
It is ESSENTIAL to diversify your traffic.
What happened to me can happen to anyone.
The tool that we got banned for was something we hadn’t even thought about in over a year. I’m not saying Facebook did anything wrong – I know they were trying to protect their users – I’m just saying that if something off the wall could happen to me, it could happen to anyone.
And this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. Many people have heard of the “AdWords slap”, people who got banned from Kindle, etc… this kind of thing happens all the time.
In the last 6 months, I’ve worked hard to learn how to use new traffic sources. I tested a TON, bought lots of courses, and invested a lot of money to learn all kinds of new things.
Thankfully, it’s been working.
On September 4th, the day I got banned, I had 19,142 followers across all of my social networks. 6 months later, I have 57,329 (including Facebook – and 44,161 without). That’s an increase of +38,187 followers in 6 months.
I launched my podcast on August 11th. Even though I was banned shortly after launching, I’ve still enjoyed over 133,129 podcast downloads.
I went back into the lab with Kindle. I had one book that had 6,364 downloads in 5 days – which converted into thousands of opt-ins.
I have done SO MUCH to get more traffic.
Losing Facebook really sucked. It was devastating on so many levels, and I am *SO* glad to have my account back.
If I’m looking at it from a “what did I learn?” perspective, I’d say I’m SO glad that it helped me learn to have sustainable traffic from a variety of sources.
I learned to NOT rely on one traffic source alone.
The following screenshot is from my Google Analytics account for this blog, RachelRofe.com.
You can actually see the steady incline of traffic I’ve been experiencing, especially around December and January. This is the result of a ton hard work in testing, experimenting and refining new traffic methods:
They say that sometimes you have to learn things the hard way. That was definitely true in this case.