We’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 WordPress.org 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?