My wife told me about three huge Instagram accounts that were shut down lately due to impersonators, where the company sided with the scammers. Only one eventually got their account back, and that was due to a follower having connections with the company.
Combined that is around 100,000 followers wondering what these accounts did wrong, plus all the people who heard about these events.
Sometimes it is hard watching things go in cycles.
The thing is, while nothing could prevent Instagram, Twitch, YouTube or Facebook arbitrarily shutting accounts down, there is something they could and should have been doing to mitigate the effects.
Protect Your Community
It’s been said many, many times.
If you don’t pay for the service then you are the product.
Even when you do pay, you are relying on the company doing their research when arbitrating complaints.
One of the things that can cause anyone grief is annoying the wrong person, who then brings a bunch of friends who all report your account (negative “brigading”).
If your only site is on Shopify or Udemy, there is nothing to stop them taking that away from you.
The mistake people are making, and have made since the blogger/typepad/geocities, etc days is building their main community on an asset that belongs to someone else.
At the very least you need a backup-plan.
Step 1: Create a list.
When I say build a list, I mean build an actual list. Your Twitter followers are kind-of like a list, in that you can send messages that some of them will see, but not really something you own and can backup.
With a proper list on an email service, you can download the list of email addresses and move to another service if something nasty happens. That means you will have a speed bump, not a shut-down.
Step 2: Build a web asset that you own.
You also need a website on a domain name that you control.
I’m not saying host it yourself! Just make sure it uses your own domain, so the branding is your URL and not something.serviceprovider.net
If my current web host shut this site down I could be up and running pretty quickly somewhere else because people visit chrisg.com not a sub-url of another service.
Step 3. Attract and retain.
Finally, by all means use every resource at your disposal to attract new people into your community.
YouTube and Amazon are excellent search engines to be discovered on!
But always, always, always bring them back to you. Your domain. Your list.
Proactively protect your community. Then nobody can take them away from you.