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No Knifemaker’s Allowed

Navigating the “Knifemaker Shadowban” on Meta


How to keep your head up, your business thriving, and your customers happy when your primary landing page is under attack by the Zuck overlords


By John Stephens




We have all seen it slip into our social media accounts, censorship. We could feel things slowly moving this direction since Zuck and his minions added the popular social media site, Instagram to their network. The ultimate outcome? The silent death of productivity for the knifemaking business on one of the most influential social sites since the first days of Facebook. 

 The censorship first began in politics, but what once would have been completely acceptable is now means for a suspension. Knifemakers, gun manufacturers, and political commentators alike have now seen stiff “shadowbans”, (the act of restricting an account's views to only those who follow them), resulting in drastically reduced engagement and views. Rather than empowering skilled individuals working diligently to modify their media to assist in growth, Meta choses to prop up half-naked ladies- filling our “explore page” with meaningless lust, regardless of our interests, those we follow, or the categories we fill. Effectively forcing this foolish media on us regardless of what we can assume used to be “prompts” for their algorithm. Simply put, there is no longer an equal path for growth on Instagram if you are a Knifemaker.


 So, what do we do? Well there is certainly a lot to be said for how we can navigate this tumultuous terrain. But the simple truth is that no matter what steps you take to mitigate the silencing, Meta simply does not want you, your knife-related content, or your art on their social media site. Despite the brief contact made between the folks at Meta and a select few accounts in our knifemaking community, a solution to the silencing seems out-of-reach. Even as Meta suggests alternative approaches, ultimately, it’s their policy toward weapons that will continue to hamper the growth of businesses in the community. And anything short of completely removing any pictures, videos, stories, or captions mention of blades will result in positive growth outside of your existing following.


 Imagine a world where professional knifemakers could utilize the advertising tools Meta offers instantly to alcohol advertisers! Their staunch criticism of “Weapons or weapon accessories that can cut, slice, strike, penetrate, shoot or harm people or animals, including but not limited to: Firearms, including firearms parts, ammunition, paintball guns and BBguns, Pepper spray, non-culinary knives/blades/spears, tasers, nunchucks, batons, or weapons intended for self-defense”, extends even further than the overly inclusive and all encompassing list above, quietly silencing nearly anything that could be considered “tactical.” What a joke..


 Meanwhile, the average professional knifemaker faces a hard decision; bow to the Meta overlords and adapt their media to completely fit the ludacris “rules” or mobilize their presence and rebuild on a new platform. The reality is, many of us have grown a following on Instagram that we feel we can’t afford to leave. For many, this business is predicated on sales, and our customers know to find us there, even if newcomers cannot follow.

 

 Choose a path, Smith, you only have two choices. But what if that wasn’t the case? What if an alternative was available; reach your customers, sell your product, and represent yourself freely! This option is one with some work involved, afterall, creating a single-source social platform that integrates traditional social media with a website-like profile, a marketplace, and direct message portal was what got Meta its fame. But the concept is really just a bunch of traditional forms of media/advertising/sales all in one. Recreating this business presence structure on your own seems challenging, but so is digitally fistfighting the green-haired San Fran staff of Meta’s “rules board”. 


Building Your Network


 Let’s break down what you need. Essentially, the way your business approaches social media could (and should) be broken down to four major categories-


  1. Showcasing your product (or art) to the customer.

  2. Reaching new customers. 

  3. Direct contact with your customers.

  4. Informing/Entertaining your fans.

 I would be willing to go as far as to say that if your social media exceeds these basic goals, it’s probably more about the way you’re representing your ego than it is your handiwork.

 

 These categories are certainly a bit harder to recreate without the use of this simple all-in-one platform. But what advantage is there on a site where the rulers have you under their thumb? Simply put, we recreate these streams of information by using direct connections. First, by showcasing your product in the best possible light. This means quality media, simplistic presentation, and detailed information. A quality website can accomplish this, and with 3x the personal touch available when setting up your Instagram profile. Second, we have to find new customers. In the past, this was perhaps the most beneficial aspect of social media. But with nearly every Knife related account now facing extreme limitations in “non-follower reach”, rarely are your posts being seen by new customers anyway. The fix? Traditional advertising is the likely solution. While available, Google Ads can assist in growth for your newly created website. The next step could be in-person representation, such as shows, conventions, and larger flea markets. One might go a step further, allocating a budget to print marketing in local publications, blade-related magazines, or even small sponsorships to up-and-coming podcasts within our community. 


 Now you’re onto direct communication, which can be easily handled via email, website submission (contact) portal, or via a business-dedicated encrypted messaging app. Despite the Ai exchange one might endure after publicly bitching at their bank on Twitter, most larger businesses aren’t utilizing social media DMs to do much real communication anyway. The desire for a question to be answered under one of your posts could easily be fulfilled in the comments section of your blog post, or via direct contact. In short, creating a more professional line of communication for your customers to contact you is likely to benefit your business professionally rather than hinder it. 


 Lastly, informing and entertaining your customers. As a result of social media popularity this category of business branding/representation has grown over the last decade perhaps more than any. Rather than simply creating and selling a quality product, businesses must now have a personality, opinion on popular topics, and a constantly open line of communication with the public. But despite the addiction that results after years of actively promoting yourself 10x daily on social media. It is quite easy to both embody the personality of your company, and entertain your more fan-like customers without logging on to social media multiple times a day. Take it from the guy who has been developing nearly constant media for dozens of businesses over the last 10-15 years. The time you spend posting 10+ times on social media could simply be used to develop one REALLY GOOD blog, newsletter, long-form video, per day, or ideally week. 


 Your customers come out informed and entertained and with the extra time and resources, you represent your business in an exponentially more professional manner. If you still yearn for day-to-day contact with your customers, consider the growing popularity of “subscription” based access. This concept has grown as “fans” desire a feeling of exclusive access to their obsessions. By offering even a free daily newsletter, one can share two paragraphs, a handful of pics and a brief video. Just as your social media pushed out excessive shots of your day, your loaded newsletter is likely to showcase any and all that a customer could hope to see from their favorite knifemaker. Alternative social media like X can provide a brief reprieve from the nightmare that is social media censorship. But ultimately, they too will bow to those claiming our form of art has no place in the public square. Building a business that is not bound to the oversight of some college debt-ridden, 20-something social media governance manager is a smart pivot. And one you’re sure not to regret. 


In Conclusion 


There may not be a solution to our social media problem. But the problem our social media once “solved” was never much of an issue. Deconstruct what a platform like Meta claims to provide to businesses and provide it to yourself. 

And no, you don’t have to delete your Instagram account. 

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3 Comments


I have been shadow banned just for stabilized wood and customers that follow IG. We try to avoid using certain hashtags and pictures (because customers share their end products). Thanks for the great ideas and supporting the community.

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This was a good read. Marketing and promotion can be a real headache when all we really want to do is get our hands dirty⚒

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Johnny
Johnny
May 09

Thanks for reading!

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