You don’t own a thing in social media.
Not your Facebook Fan 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.
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.
So how do you take back ownership of your database?
If you’re not in a position to have the backing of an email service provider like Blue Sky Factory, then the free option is Google Groups. Create an announcement-only group (which is effectively a mailing list) and slap a subscribe box on your web site or blog. Then start asking everyone and anyone who is a fan of yours to subscribe to your newsletter. Facebook fan page? Put an FBML tab up. 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.
Obviously, if you do have an ESP, use their subscription forms instead and features like Facebook Connect. I use cows to promote mine:
Whatever you do, own your database. When today’s Facebook becomes tomorrow’s MySpace, you’ll be glad you did.
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