Jeff Pulver's Birthday Party at the RoxyJeff Pulver is famous for saying this of event marketing: you live or die on your database.

He’s right, but more important, this goes well beyond event marketing. It’s a core principle of virtually all marketing.

Think about this: what do you actually own in social media? Unless you bought stock in Facebook, you don’t own much of anything. Your Twitter account, your Facebook page, your Google+ page, your LinkedIn account – you own none of it. The powers that be can strip you of your social media presence at any time, for any reason, without recourse. These companies are not public utilities and you are not entitled to the audience you have built.

The only thing you do own is your database, the people who have given you information (typically on your email marketing mailing list). Do you have one? Are you pointing people to it regularly? Are you growing it? Are you keeping it fresh and renewing it frequently?

People ask frequently why I use a pop-up on my website (yes, it can be annoying). The core reason is that I know I don’t own anything in social media. It can be taken away from me at a moment’s notice. Thus, I aggressively use things like pop-ups, calls to action, and dedicated messaging in order to protect myself from future calamity. As long as my computer and backup drives are functioning, I have copies of my database. I have something that I can use to recover with if I lose a major social media account.

What happens when a new network like Pinterest comes out? Fire up your database. Send out a dedicated mailing – hey, we’re over here on Pinterest now too. You can jump-start any new social network that you want to make a splash on with your database. Fire up your mailing list and let people know. It’s significantly harder to do that from scratch.

Your database is your last bastion against irrelevance and your first line of offense when you want to make a splash – as long as you’ve built, grown, and nurtured it. You live or die on your database. I hope that you choose to live long and prosper with yours.

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