The principle of "owning it" is one of the guiding foundations of my online business...
In this article I explain exactly what you can own in taking your business online, and why it's vital to the very life of your business
Let's Define "Ownership"
In this article, I'm discussing "online assets." This includes the following:
- Your website
- All of your online content, posted on your website (you can't control what's on 3rd-party platforms)
- Your domain name (your 'dot com')
- Your brand
- Your customers, clients, & readers
- Your email list
Note that the items listed above are not listed in any priority order because they are ALL equally valuable... If you lost just one of the above, your business would be in serious trouble!
Just think how your business would suffer if any one of those items above "disappeared! Or, if you were locked out of accessing any one of these!
An important understanding of '3rd-party vendors'
When you have a web presence, you must rely on other companies to provide specialized services...
- Website platform
- Web Hosting company
- Domain Registrar
- Email Service Provider
- Internet Service Provider
- and more
Just to be clear, I am not suggesting you avoid any of those services, and I'm certainly NOT suggesting you do-it-yourself. That is not efficient or a practical use of your time as a business owner...especially if you are a solopreneur! These providers are specialized and expert at what they do. They are specialists...
PLUS, if one of them fails for any reason, it's relatively simple to find a suitable replacement, usually in a matter of hours and certainly no longer than a day or two... No business shutdown, crisis averted.
Understanding the Importance of Owning Your Online Assets
The advantages of having everything on your own platform
It really all centers around CONTROL! You want to control everything possible about your online presence and assets.
If you make your website your online "business hub" then you've already taken a huge step toward achieving the most control possible in today's online world.
Unknowlingly giving up 'ownership'
For perspective, consider one of the most common ways people give up ownership...often without even realizing it:
- Posting most content on social platforms
- Using YouTube to post all video content
- Using 'course platforms' instead of hosting courses on your website
- Relying on the 'convenience' of social media for all interactions with your audience
Understanding the hidden dangers giving up control
If you have spent any time online, searching or just reading the news, it's likely you've heard about businesses "losing everything" because of placing too much emphasis on 'external platforms.'
This was most widely publicized about people who had relied on Facebook "Pages" for the sole business presence. They had no website, and all of their interactions with readrs, customers and clients was conducted ON the social platform...
Now, the reasons for this were easy to understand: "everyone was on Facebook" and it was free to do this. PLUS, there wasn't the time investment of creating a website...
But, the cost turned out to be nearly fatal to many of these businesses. Facebook changed their "policies" overnight, without ever notifying any of these businesses! Overnight, the algorithm controlling what appeared in "followers" FB feeds changed. The result was that FANS that had been cultivated for months or years were suddenly not seeing anything from these businesses. To these fans, it appeared those businesses had just disappeared!
Forbes reported in March, 2018 about Facebook changing their news feed algorithm, negatively impacting businesses on Facebook. A year later, they changed it yet again. I'll explain below what you need to know to make sense of this!
Consider this Instagram "monster" that 'inspired' a long-time Instagrammer to spill the beans on the nefarious inner-workings... (It's a very long & heartbreaking read!) There is a shortenend and distilled summary here from one of my true mentors...
Making sense of this by understanding "Agendas"
NEWS FLASH: All of these platforms have their own agenda... And the success of your business isn't included! This is rather eye-opening to a LOT of people! But, IMO that's surprising!
- A magazine's agenda is to get subscribers...to read their ads
- A TV program is to get you to watch...to see their paid commercials
- Facebook & Twitter want to keep you on their platforms...to keep serving you ads and content they want you to see...
- Even Netflix got into the act, hoping to keep you watching their content instead of you getting sleep! Think this was a one-off comment...maybe said in jest? Reed Hastings, (Netflix) reiterated it at the WSJDLive Conference in 2017 saying "...sleep was their biggest enemy..." (You can search this for yourself on Twitter.)
Once you understand the agendas of these external platforms, their changing algorithms all begin to make sense...
Just take the time to really read their Terms of Service (TOS). They are purposely written in complex language. Some platforms even have gone so far in past years to take ownership of the content -- your content -- that you have worked so hard to craft on their platform!
Most of them started by being free, but FREE doesn't make the shareholders or Board of Directors happy...or money! So, they've all turned to an ad-based model. It's nothing new. As I indicated above, TV and print magazines have been doing this forever! The result is that to get coverage you want on these platforms, you have to pay for it!
The problem is our habits and expectations haven't changed from the "everything is free" model. What's worse, societal behavior hasn't changed either, with exponentially more people jumping onto these platforms, especially Facebook, every year.
Recommendations: A Hybrid Approach
So, if people's behavior won't change, how do you get your content and business in front of new readers?
- Use social platforms to get that "reach" for new readers, but do so sparingly and just for business.
- YouTube is especially useful if you use it for well-crafted marketing-related videos. Their algorithm 'rewards' YouTube-ers for high demand & popular content. It's a great way to build awareness for your brand. But, don't expect to make money from these videos. And, certainly link back to your own website in the video description.
- Use automated services to create your social posts for you. Make sure every post you create on your website is posted to the platforms that your readers frequent. There are a number of services that provide this at varying price points, so you're sure to find something you can afford.
- Insist that your readers come to your website for reading full articles: link directly to the content on your website in these social posts.
- If you need to break the culture you've already created to "post it on social" & your audience expects to find you there, you certainly want to let them know! Tell them you are focusing on your website now and you'll meet them there. Explain clearly the WHY for the change... If they are your true fans, they intrinsically want what's best for you and your business! And, you can let them know that they will have contributed to the continued success of your business! But...you have to demonstrate your are your "tribe's leader" and tell them!
Over to You!
If you have any questions about Owning It! -- why it's important or how to make it work -- please post them in the Comments below! And if you've had your own challenges by not owning your assets or using external platforms, I'd love to hear about them.
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