You own nothing in social media

What's wrong with this picture?

I’ve been saying this for years, so let’s be crystal clear:

You don’t own a thing in social media.

Not your Facebook Page.
Not your Google+ Page.
Not your Twitter profile.
Not your LinkedIn group.

You don’t own any of it, and your existence in social media is at the whim of the companies who provide those services. You can go from digital hero to zero in two clicks of a mouse. Your Klout score can vanish faster than you can say Delete My Account. Think it can’t happen? Ask anyone who spent real money customizing their MySpace profile how well that worked out for them.

Much ado is being made at present of Google+ and its champion, Vic Gundotra, as he departs Google after 8 years. Google can and has removed beloved properties without a second thought, like Google Reader. Your Google+ profile? Not yours. You don’t own it.

So what can you own?

Your blog, as long as you host it and pay for the hosting and domain name. It’s yours as long as your credit card remains functional and you back up your data.

Your mailing list, as long as you back it up.

Your database.

So how do you take back ownership of your database?

Get an email list together. If you need super low cost, look at Amazon SES or MailChimp. If you want something more enterprise, look at WhatCounts Publicaster. Then start asking everyone and anyone who is a fan of yours to subscribe to your newsletter. Facebook Page? Put a sponsored post up with a link. Twitter profile? Stick it in your URL and tweet it every so often.

Every week or other regular interval, download your group data. Now you’ve got your database, and as long as you continue to provide value to your audience, you’ll continue to grow it.

Whatever you do, own your database. When today’s Facebook becomes tomorrow’s MySpace, you’ll be glad you did.


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  • vartabedian

    I own my voice.

  • http://withmedia.ca KyleWith

    It seems Leo's little Buzz hiccup has brought this up again. It is a shame we always for about little things like this.

  • http://timbursch.com timbursch

    Chris,
    Good point. Especially in light of all the talk about abandoning websites for Facebook and other social media outposts. Platforms can and will change.

    As my friend Mark Kurtz likes to say, Verbs First, Nouns Second. Focus on the verbs (and I would add people) in marketing and then the nouns.

    Cheers,
    Tim

  • http://www.echristopherclark.com E. Christopher Clark

    Good article, and great points, but I do have one question in regard to this passage:

    “Whatever you do, own your database. When today’s Facebook becomes tomorrow’s MySpace, you’ll be glad you did.”

    You’re using Disqus for comments, though. What happens when they go the way of the dodo?

  • Batman

    Hasn't it already? Or are you saying that there's something that's going to come along and replicate Facebook, and do it better, and that hasn't happened yet….

  • Batman

    Hasn't it already? Or are you saying that there's something that's going to come along and replicate Facebook, and do it better, and that hasn't happened yet….

  • http://smile.ly JinAtSmilely

    It is a growing concern that Facebook is using more of our data to lure in the big bucks. Privacy concerns might cause people to abandon Facebook, and in turn, Facebook might abandon us. Not a nice thought.

  • http://www.ChristopherSPenn.com Christopher S. Penn

    Happily, Disqus automatically syncs your comments to your blog. If I turn it off right now, all the comments will still be here.

  • http://www.echristopherclark.com E. Christopher Clark

    Oh, I didn’t realize that. I’ve checked it out and it’s not possible with my CMS (ExpressionEngine), but it’s great that it works that way with the system you’re using.