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Make sure your content is in your control

posterous-logoWe’re big believers in social media. We use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and others on a daily basis. However, we also believe that it’s important that your primary content be in your control.

Similar to bands moving completely to MySpace (and then MySpace losing virtually its entire user base) many people have invested their time and effort heavily into Posterous, which is now closing down.

The key is to maintain full control of your primary content.  You can certainly use third-party sites to drive traffic back to yours, but at the end of the day you never know what might happen on those other sites.  Not only might they close up shop (like Posterous), but there are other potentially ugly scenarios:

  • Is Facebook (or Twitter, etc) still going to be relevant in five years?  No one can answer that for sure, but you don’t want to move all of your content to one of them and then have them become a ghost town.
  • While it’s fairly rare, Facebook has been known to mistakenly shut down legitimate pages.  Yours could be next.  If that were to happen you want it to be a “wow, that stinks” scenario rather than a “we’re dead meat!” scenario.

Granted, even on a site where you have “full control” you are still at the mercy of a few other companies:

  • Hosting: It’s important to use reputable hosts and to keep backups of your site.  Even if our host went out of business today, we could move our content to a new host and be back up and running very quickly.
  • Domain Name: It’s very rare to lose a domain name in a court case; it’s more likely that you’ll either get your account hacked or forget to renew it.  Go ahead and renew your domain name for a few years, make sure the contact information is accurate, and put a very secure password on that account.
  • WordPress: In our case, the site relies on WordPress.  However, we use the software and install it directly on our server; even if somehow WordPress disappeared tomorrow, our site would be fine.  The same is true of other software that you can download and install such as  Joomla or Drupal.  If you entire site lives on BlogSpot or Tumblr, it could face the same fate as Posterous at some point in the future.

This is why we recommend that you follow the “hub & spoke” model, which you’re likely already doing even if you don’t realize it.  Make sure your website is the “hub” of your efforts, and treat social media as the “spokes”.  Spend time out there on the spokes, engage with people, share content, but at the end of the day you want to make sure people are moving toward your hub.  The spokes will change over time (six years ago we all used MySpace and Twitter was just a speck), but keep your hub growing and things will work out well for you.

With that in mind, what are your favorite “spokes” right now?  Facebook?  Google+?  Something else?

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Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

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  1. as always, great advice. it’s very appealing to use free services but most people don’t realize the content isn’t theirs. sometimes the investment to own your materials and have it backed up and serviced by the things you recommend is so important.

  2. Mickey, I loved this. Agree, all traffic should ideally be driven to your site and the social media is just an extension of sharing your site content. Thanks for breaking it down practically!

  3. Mickey, I get this question often: “Why do I need a website if I can create a free Facebook page?” Now I can refer them to your post — thanks!

    At ClickHOST we focus on the following “spokes”: Twitter, Facebook and on occasion G+. We also do some Pinterest pinning.

    A tip: When people leave reviews/ testimonials on your Facebook page or Google Reviews, make a copy! These reviews can easily disappear.

    Cheers, Carel.

  4. Do you have any recommendations on how to accomplish this in regards to photographs? There are plenty of Facebook/Instagram/Flickr > WordPress plugins, but can’t seem to find a WP > FB solution.

    On that note, it seems easier to upload images from a mobile device to FB than to WP. Any suggestions there?

    • David — That is a great question! I don’t really have a great answer for it, but we handle things a few different ways:

      1 — With the latest additions to the WordPress gallery and “jetpack” plugin, we’re doing more galleries directly on client sites.
      2 — We still sometimes direct users to Facebook for galleries for the sharing/promotion aspect of things, but that somewhat goes against this post.
      3 — Regardless of what we do, we keep a local copy of all photos (often in Dropbox) in case we need them in the future.

      You’re correct about the difficulty of posting to WordPress from mobile. Single photos are easy, but galleries are difficult (impossible?) from a mobile device. We’re at our computer most of the time, so it’s not an issue we’ve dealt with very much. 🙂

      We have a few clients that are often mobile — in those cases, they’ll email the pics to us and we’ll load them on the site.

    • That’s one reason I moved away from them. However, I *think* it also keeps a copy of the comments in your local installation so you can always revert back to local commenting without a big problem. Somewhat similar to Jetpack’s “photon”, where it hosts your images elsewhere but keeps a copy on your server in case you decide to disable it.

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