Social Media - Own or Rent?
Yesterday marked the final day of Social Media Examiner's 2012 Social Media Success Summit - the annual three week firehose blast of the latest social media practices and content that many in the industry rely on to maintain their proficiency in all things social. If you're looking to stay on top of your social media game, I highly recommend the event, and while you count the days until next year's summit you can find all manner of good information here.
A very interesting topic surfaced during the summit - and it is one that has been croppping up in everyday discussions in my local business community as well. The topic centers on the manner in which companies choose to set up their online presence. With the stratospheric growth of the top platforms out there - Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and more recently, Pinterest - there seems to be a growing cadre of businesses that seem very willing to build a presence "on rental property" versus building it on "their own land". What's the distinction here?
Building on your own land means building out the core of your online presence on a domain name that you own and a content management system of your own choosing - i.e. - your website. Building your presence on rental property is making the conscious decision to stake your foundational online presence on one or more of the aformentioned platforms.
While it's understandable that businesses are enthralled with the excitement and massive exposure offered by the big social platforms, the harsh reality is that there's very little control they can exert over how things work and how often the rules of the game change. The motivations behind frequent rule changes are shifting as the big platforms cross over from being privately held organizations to publicly held corporations.
The other key point is that you're essentially "renting" space on the platform and don't own any of the assets you're creating with your time investment there. You can't readily export value from your social platform presence (the one exception being LinkedIn with its connection export function). It's better to use the platforms to drive activity to the "owned" space side where you have complete control of it all.
We recommend to our clients that they first focus on the ownership side of their online presence. Focus on the website: brand aesthetics, information flow, relevant content, appropriate calls to action, analytics and regular review of how things are progressing. Use the website to build an email list of prospects that can become an invaluable asset for driving incremental business.
Once the ownership foundation is solidified, attention can be directed to the rental side of the ledger. All good strategic plans will incorporate the use of the appropriate social platforms and with a solid "owned" base of operations, it makes it easier to get incremental value from your activity on these platforms.
Take a step back and review where the bulk of your efforts are directed today. You may find that with a little more time and attention on the ownership side of your social media presence, your overall results across the board will improve.