Why Build Your Brand On Property You Do Not Own?

Would you build your home on someone else’s land?  In most cases, no.  Then why would you consider building your brand and online presence on someone else’s platform?  Let’s be clear, I am “all in” with social media.  I benefit almost every day from my involvement with the entire spectrum of social media tools and techniques.  Some of you have taken a shortcut by using one of these social platforms as your ‘home’ page, your online base of operations.  Bad idea.

You need a home base online that you control.  A website or blog that you have full control over should be considered a ‘must-have’ for anyone today.  I even go so far as to recommend acquiring domain names for each of your children.  Grab them immediately, even if you have no plans for using them.  Much better you control that domain name rather than someone else.  I have written in the past here and here about my belief in acquiring as many of the domain names for yourself on the social media sites.  In my case, I have claimed ownership of my name on the majority of social sites.  If you want to reach me on Twitter, I will be @milesaustin.  LinkedIn is linkedin.com/in/milesaustin, or Facebook at facebook.com/milesaustin.  You get the idea. There are services that make this a very easy, wide and deep process, and for less than $100.00 that automatically obtain your desired name, if available on hundreds of sites.  Whether you use you name, your company name, or even your brand, just grab them now. You will be thankful in the years ahead.

I watched this play out recently with a connection of mine that had built a considerable base of connections, articles, events and commentary on Biznik.com.  Biznik focuses on the SMB and solo-preneur market, using social media capabilities while emphasizing face-to-face interaction.  For reasons that are not important here, the individual was “kicked out” of Biznik because he did not follow some of the rules of the site.  Fair enough.  If you didn’t follow the rules, your gone.  The problem is that all his articles, contacts, connections, comments, and goodwill that had built up over several years of active use was gone in an instant. Poof!  Unfortunate loss of plenty of valuable information and his business activity is suffering from this loss of data in a significant way.

Own and control your own home base online.  Do not put your business reputation and/or presence solely in the hands of someone else.  LinkedIn is a terrific service, but not as your primary online presence.  It is important that you are in control of the domain and the information contained within.  This includes services like WordPress.com.  It is a free and very easy to use service and I have used it myself in the past.  There are many  useful, informative businesses that are running on this free platform.  They do not control their domain, WordPress does.   Take the exact same data and content, buy a hosted site and import it into a WordPress.org site.  Are you really going to run your business on someone else’s property?

The key points are:

  1. Own your domain names.
  2. Secure your names on all the available sites
  3. Own your main online home base.
  4. Own and control your own data.

I hope you share your experiences and suggestions and comments with the rest of us below.

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  • Thanks for this post Miles, it is so right on. I see this happening everywhere. I can’t say how many times I have clicked on a link thinking it’s their website, and instead takes me to their fan page on Facebook. And finding out that is what they use for their branding and website. Scary stuff. These social platforms, as you stated, are tools to help build your brand, and you shouldn’t be dependent on them.

    I hope more people read this post and give second thoughts to depending on “other” platforms to build their brand. Well done!

  • Great information. As a small business owner with very little ‘big picture’ knowledge of what it truly means to have a wordpress.com site vs. a wordpress.org site I appreciate this distinction.

  • Miles… Valuable information that should be shared with everyone that is building a brand (business). And, don’t forget to mention, for those that actually “get it” to support the Data Portability Project.

    A good friend of mine tells a story about sharecroppers, serfs, and bloggers. American history explains why you don’t want to be a sharecropper. If we ignore history we are bound to repeat it.

    Cyber-space is the new real-estate. When you post on cyber-property you do not own, you are bestowing a gift of your digital asset (creativity and originality). The property owner can now exploit you and prosper from your efforts. What is really ironic is when you pay them for the privilege to enhance their digital net-worth. …Howard

  • Hi Miles,

    Good post. Thank you for sharing. Just to be clarify, “…one wouldn’t buy the hosted site and import into WordPress.org.site…” You would buy the keyword-rich domain and purchase a host package from any number of hosts (email me if you want a list). Then you can upload the WP folders from WP.org onto your hosted site. [Most hosts offer the upload directly within the control panel of the host so you don’t even need to go to WP.org to upload using your favorite FTP program.]

    @Evan, I am often asked as a virtual assistant what the difference is between wordpress.org and wordpress.com. Here’s a link to my February newsletter in my ‘Abradcadabra for Bloggers’ column where I answer that question in more detail.

    @Bob In defense of some of the small companies or start ups I work with; some do use their blog or their social networking site to jumpstart their business. I don’t recommend doing that but until their website is up and running, a blog or a social networking site can get the ball rolling.

    In fact I recommend starting an email subscriber list from Day 1 of opening the business doors. This can be done through apps on the Facebook Fan page at no charge. So a social networking site can be quite helpful for upstarts.

    Janine Gregor
    Virtual Assistant
    http://www.YourVirtualWizard.com

  • Seems like most of you agree with the concept. I ran across a blog post that shares how to DELETE or close out accounts from the major social sites. Informative and a good idea to file it away for future reference. I especially enjoyed one of the comments about wanting to get rid of an old Friendster account.

    Here is the link to the post on Smashing Magazine by Cameron Chapman: http://budurl.com/ytgb

  • Excellent position, Miles. Everybody needs a better way to acquire and retain customers and who wants to put that at risk simply by taking the easy path. The reality is that sociall media sites have transformed and inspite fo that we must each own our main web site and control our own data. Fortunately social sites and web sites today make connecting sites and flowing data between them easy. Post on your blog and it can replicate to your social site, web site and Twitter – all of it automatically. http://bit.ly/ayeen

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