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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. They are not public utilities. You can go from digital hero to zero in two clicks of a mouse. Your social media influence 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.

So what can you own?

Your website and 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 a dedicated email service provider or marketing automation system. 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, and buy some Twitter cards.

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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