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Don't Build Your Digital Marketing House on Rented Land

It’s a story that I have heard more times recently than I care to admit…

  • “Facebook changed their algorithm, and now my business page is useless.”
  • “I was using a tool to generate leads on LinkedIn, and my account was banned.”
  • “I went from page one on Google to page 99.”
  • “Facebook deleted my business page, and all my connections and posts are gone.”
  • “The freelancing service I was using changed, and now I’m not getting any new work.”
  • "I used to make thousands of dollars per week on YouTube, but they shut down my channel because I did something offensive."

Kinda sucks, right?

John Battelle, the founder of Wired, wrote several years ago “if you’re going to build something, don’t build on land someone else already owns. You want your own land, your own domain, your own sovereignty.” What he’s saying is that anything you do on someone else’s platform is entirely at their mercy!


Paid, Owned, Earned, and Rented

Most marketers are familiar with the concept of “paid, owned, and earned” media. Put simply; paid media is when you pay to leverage a 3rd party marketing channel. Think pay per click marketing, Facebook ads, or sponsorships. Earned media is when customers talk about your company via word of mouth or social media. Owned media consists of channels you create and control such as your website, email list, and customer database.

Traditionally, social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. have fallen under “owned media”, but it’s becoming apparent that those marketing channels are more akin to “rented” than “owned” since the companies that you have built your audience on can go out of business or change their policies at any moment. (Remember MySpace?)

We are entering a new digital era where social media channels are coming and going faster than businesses can keep up. Popular platforms such as Facebook are suddenly losing public trust and being abandoned by users and businesses. It’s now more important than ever to make sure that the content you create and the audience you build for your business are someplace where you have total control. Think about it this way; you wouldn't dare trust your most important client files to a computer without a backup, so why would you trust them to someone else who is under no obligation to you?

The Good News

There is no reason to completely abandon social media; you just need to be strategic about how you use it. Rather than relying on one or more platforms to deliver your messages, use them to draw your audience to someplace like your website where you know they won't be abandoned.

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