Sharecropping has become a dirty word in the marketing world, and rightly so, you’re working for someone else for free and giving up control over the content you created. That’s bad for business.
Third-party platforms (Medium, LinkedIn, Tumblr, etc.) aren’t bad, but it is a bad idea to put all of your eggs in their baskets. The main source of your content should be on a platform you own and control–not on Facebook.
Let’s take a look at why people forgo hosting their own content and why most marketing professionals think that’s a bad idea.
Why people prefer third-party platforms
If you have little to no technical chops then setting up your own site can be overwhelming. The lure of a 1-click setup is appealing and frankly, all you want to do is write to your audience, right? So does it really matter where you’re hosting the content? It’s understandable why so many of our customers choose to host mostly on Facebook or a free WordPress site.
It’s fast. In most cases, you just have to create a login and boom you’re up and running.
It’s cheap. Not that hosting your own site is expensive, but other sites offer a free content management system and free hosting. If you’re just starting out, you have nothing to lose (except all of your control but we’ll get to that).
It’s easy. Third-party platforms have teams dedicated to making the user experience as simple as possible so setup is self-explanatory. There’s a small learning curve and you don’t have to coordinate expensive engineering time.
So what’s the problem?
You don’t fully own your content and how it’s distributed.
Facebook (Medium/LinkedIn/etc.) manages the content, and they can decide who sees it. If they change their algorithm to limit your reach, you lost your voice. They provide the tools for you to create the content, but they control it.
My Facebook page views and engagement have absolutely plummeted. Anyone else?
— Candice Walsh (@candicewalsh) December 9, 2015
There was speculation Facebook changed their algorithm around the holidays to encourage ad spend. If you wanted anyone to see your post, it seemed like you needed to boost it.
Let’s all remember that just because you have 10,000 followers on your fan page, doesn’t mean 10,000 people will see your post. The average reach right now is about 3% so only 300 people will see your post unless you boost it.
They can also cut you off from your audience for any violation. Your content is subject to their rules. Customers ask us why their links are being marked as spam on Facebook, and we usually have no idea. Typically we find it’s because Facebook’s algorithm thought your page was being spammy for some reason. If you’re asking people to like your page as a giveaway entry option (even though we told you not to), Facebook can take your page down.
Third-party platforms can go out of business/lose traction à la Myspace. And if this happens, they’re taking your content down with them. There goes your audience. What if you had put all of your eggs in MySpace’s basket? I fear a lot of people are doing this with Facebook.
You’re cutting off your funnel. You have little to no control over the experience. On Medium/LinkedIn/Facebook, you can’t fully control the call-to-actions. Not to mention you’re forgoing any retargeting opportunities. All of the onsite marketing opportunities belong to the host, so instead of clicking through to your site, they may click on another link and end up on a different brand’s page.
Your brand is diluted by theirs. On your own site you can craft the entire user experience, but by posting on another site, you’re at the mercy of their marketing team. Even if they have good or simple branding, your brand is easily swallowed up and diluted by theirs. It will be hard for readers to recognize you again if they see you around the web.
You’re working for someone else. You’re creating content and driving traffic to a platform you don’t own. You’re free labor, and you’re losing these opportunities for your own brand.
When people share that amazing Medium article you posted, it’s sending everyone to Medium, not your site. While Medium and other third-party sites are great tools to get in front of new audiences, the more time you spend on those sites the less time you’re spending on building your own site’s SEO and Domain Authority.
Even with a blogger.com or wordpress.com subdomain (rafflecopter.blogger.com), you’re still not getting the full DA benefits like you would with a self-hosted site. Not to mention earning the trust of your visitors. I’m way more likely to give my money, time, and attention to someone who looks like they spent some time and money on their business than a free website.
For that reason, I would strongly suggest you pay a little more to get “thebestblog.com” instead of “thebestblog.blogger.com”. You’ll look way more legit.
And what’s the solution?
Build your own site and pay to host it. It’s time to regain control. While it may seem like a tall order, there are a ton of resources online to help you out. This guy has a great beginner’s guide.
And when you get to the building part, don’t forget to revisit our post about site design.
Own your communication with an email list. Chatting with your followers on social media is great, but you still don’t have much control. Again, if the platform went belly up all of a sudden or decided to ban your account, you’d be SOL.
Collecting emails through your own blog is the best way to amplify your marketing efforts. It’s no secret that email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing channels for a business. Once someone offers you their email address, you own a direct connection to them. You’re no longer dependent upon a third-party platform to grant you access.
Use social wisely. So, is social bad? No. As I mentioned before, social and third-party platforms are great ways to get in front of new audiences. However, your social media activity should guide potential readers/customers to the content and funnel you control: your website, email list, etc.
It’s time to think about the consequences of hosting the majority of your content on a platform you don’t own. While there’s undoubtedly an upfront investment to controlling your own destiny, the payoff is significant.
Don’t forgo a website for a Facebook page.