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Own Your Content Platform

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown Design & SEO.

There are a lot of free tools that allow you to build an online presence for your business.

Facebook, Yelp, and Google Pages are all examples of these micro-pseudo-sites. While these are great enhancers for customers to discover you, they fall woefully short when used as your main online business hub.

These free platforms make you conform to their rules about what type of content you can publish, how they use your content, or how visible you are to potential customers. These platforms are not meant to be replacements for a central website, but are meant to enhance and point people towards your website. The only way to maintain control over the material you publish is to own your content platform.

Yes, a Facebook Page is better than nothing at all. But unless someone is searching for your business by name, it’s going largely unseen. As of March 2014, the organic reach of Facebook Pages is dropping like a stone in the sea each month, and the top 200 brands on Facebook report a measly 0.45% fan engaement.

Every social media platform needs to make money eventually, and the easiest way to do this is through advertising. Their trick is to grow huge, become ubiquitous, and then use that large user base in whatever manner they see fit. Many social media platforms state in their Terms of Service that anything you post is their content, not yours. This is also true for other publishing platforms like Medium and Quora. If a social network owns all the content published there, it means they can do whatever they want with that material, including showing ads with your face in them or using your photos in ads.

These platforms all serve a purpose, and can help your business gain additional exposure, but it is not optimal to make them the main platform for dispensing your posts, photos, and business information. You cannot control the customer experience or how your material will be used, so these are better utilized as secondary outposts for your brand. These entities can be effective satellites that point traffic back to your website, the hub of your online presence.

Your website is the one platform that you own free and clear, where anything you publish is your copyrighted property. While it is unlikely that Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram will fold anytime soon, they still own whatever you publish there.

What happens if they decide one day to hide your posts from your followers? (Oh yeah, Facebook already did that.)Not much you can do about it; it’s their platform.

Owning your content and publishing on your own website means your business becomes more visible. Google is more likely to surface something from your site than from your Facebook or Twitter feeds. I’m not advocating that you abandon social media, but realize what it is and what it is not.

Social media is great for building community and adding layers of definition to your brand. Social media is not is a reliable, unchanging place to point people to when they need important information about your business. That’s what your website is for.

What platforms are you using to build your brand? Is your website the mothership for your business or is it roughly the same level as your Facebook Page? Let me know how you are using different platforms to build your brand.

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown Design & SEO.

4 comments on “Own Your Content Platform

  1. Well put, John.

    I’ve sometimes wondered if these “social” media platforms aren’t just advertisement platforms, much like Google.

    All the noise about social media is really meant to “reel” people in.

    In the end, content on these sites are locked in and appropriated as the platform wishes. In some cases, visibility on these platforms can even be elitist:

    I voiced a similar opinion about Medium:

    https://twitter.com/wpstudio5/status/563103870201888768

    I still think social media platforms are good for distribution and engagement. The potential multiplicity (multiple channels) effect can be impressive.

    Social media also offer a low barrier to entry for those who are new to the online publishing space.

    Crafting tweets and posts on G+, for example, could possibly help to increase confidence in “writing” ability.

    Building and maintaining a central hub is time and resource intensive, but well worth it.

    It’s like comparing renting with ownership.

    Better to own than to rent, but ownership comes with responsibilities.

    1. Thanks for the thoughtful comment CJ.

      Social platforms are generally VC-backed startups, so getting the user base first and monetizing later (usually via ads comes second). It costs a lot of money to host Facebook and pay everyone’s salary, so the money has to come from somewhere. Most people don’t think about the fact that the platform owns their content — but for most, this isn’t something they need to worry about.

      The only folks who really need to consider it are business owners, especially if they depend on a platform like Facebook to be a proxy website.

      In five years, I think Google+ will be non-existent. Look at how hard they pushed Orkut, and they were not afraid to kill that off. For now, I believe businesses still need to be there. I also don’t see Medium as elitist, but people who already have a big following on Twitter seem to do better there.

      Not every business should follow the same approach to publishing in all these corners of the web. We all should publish often and everywhere. Then, see what works best for our business, our voice and our audience. What works for me might not work for you or someone else. You have to try things for a while to see if you can gain traction first before writing them off, though.

  2. Nicely put John. I’m making the switch over to WordPress after about 5 years of going back and forth with static and dynamic pages for my website.

    I think WordPress is a great option for anyone who wants to quickly manage blogs, posts and pages at their desk or on the fly. Add to that the child theme or custom theme development option, and you have a powerful CMS that a lot of individuals can handle easily and effectively.

    1. Hi Joe, and welcome back!

      Any CMS that gives you a ton of versatility and ease of use is handy, especially for people running some sort of business where marketing or awareness is involved.

      I started on static pages, but very quickly jumped to WordPress, and I’ve been pretty happy ever since. The big idea here is that many platforms (like Medium or Facebook) let you publish, but seem to change the rules every few months. Plus they own what you publish there.

      With custom themes, you can do close to anything that most business need. Thanks for reading and leaving your thoughts.

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