Owning "You"

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One of the major pieces of advice musicians and bands must know is that if they are promoting themselves on all of their marketing and communications materials as www.myspace.com/BandX, they are really just marketing MySpace and don’t "own" or "control" their own destiny. It’s a mistake that Marketers are making more and more everyday.

There has been tons of online chatter about how some of the more prominent Bloggers have abandoned their own spaces in lieu of spending time on places like Twitter and FriendFeed. The debate still rages on. Some take the position that they miss the more in-depth thought leadership of these Bloggers, while others simply see these new micro-blogging platforms as a total and complete time suck.

It’s actually a little of both and something else…

A Blog, a Podcast is your own. You own it. It’s your media channel. It’s your publishing platform. Some of the other spaces (like Facebook, MySpace and the aforementioned Twitter and FriendFeed) are not your own. Yes, you can use it. Yes, you can build up your own community, but at the end of the day, you are driving people away from you to some place else where you are hoping they can connect to you. And while that last sentence may seem garbled, it’s not. Marketers who think a Facebook Fan Page or a Twitter account is going to help them evolve are missing a stark reality: you can build it up and pull tremendous value out of it, but there is no ownership. Those companies can simply decide to change their terms of service and poof, you’re gone. No questions asked. No forwarding address.

Does that mean you should avoid some of these online social networks?

Absolutely not. In recent months, I’ve found tremendous value in places like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. My usage is definitely on the rise in those three online social networks, but that does not mean that there will be any abandonment of the Blog and the Podcast. As a Marketer, this can’t be a game of "either" "or." It must be a game of value add. The reason people still find tremendous value in personal publishing platforms like Blogs and Podcasts is because they are your own space. It is something that you can really own, instead of being a mere hub or spoke in a bigger wheel.

Making them all work together.

It’s important to understand all of the tools in your toolkit, and then being able to strategically decide which tool you need for which job. Short thoughts, cool links, little ideas or quick shout-outs are amazing little nuggets of snackable content to share in places like Twitter. Pushing a bigger question to your greater community based on something you Blog or Podcast about is also a very cool use of the channel. Being a part of your communities’ network is very workable through a Facebook Fan Page. Creating these other spaces that compliment your own online environment seems to be the more ideal way that marketers are making some strides in this ever-complex world.

Don’t just blast everyone everywhere. It becomes annoying. It’s not what people want to connect to.

If the end-game is only about marketing your messages to the masses, you will get no value out of this post. If the end-game is to build your business by using the myriad of new channels to publish, share, build and grow a community (who then – through the sheer value of content you are providing – become valuable customers), then you may just have a fighting chance. The big trick is in knowing that is all starts in having a little piece of the online world that is yours. That you can call your own. That no one can take away. Once you have that, you can add on the right channels for the right message you are trying to share, and build it from there.

Maybe someone will come along and do the exact opposite. Maybe a business will be able to build a loyal following with nothing more than a Twitter account and a Facebook Fan Page. What do you think? Is that even possible?


  1. Mitch,
    My initial response was to say yes, depending on the type of business, I bet being on twitter/facebook/myspace alone *could* work. But as usual, after reading your post, I’m second guessing myself. I did not consider that if any/all of those networks disappear tomorrow, then EVERYTHING you’ve done is dust in the wind. If you can’t keep the connection fed and and satisfied, it will die off.
    I think you’ve definetly got to have your own mothership online from which all other arms of communication extend from.
    Great post as usual, thanks again.

  2. It is important to have a hub which is yours. Yes, all the tools available to us can and will help, some as stand-alone.
    But if google purchases twitter, it won’t be the same, etc… Be in control and use the tools available to promote and connect.

  3. I’ll start off by saying I don’t think it’s possible to really achieve much with only a Twitter account and a Facebook Fan page. That’s based on looking at the top 100 twitter users from http://twitterholic.com/ . Most of these users, with a few exceptions didn’t gain mass popularity on Twitter solely because of twitter.
    They all developed their large followings from websites, businesses, social movements, blogs, podcasts, or main stream media activities that were bigger than Twitter, and that they owned.

  4. At the end of the day they are all just tools (twitter, facebook, myspace etc) that should be used to to drive traffic, attention, customers to somewhere. Great marketing tools, outreach avenues but you should seriously think twice about making twitter, facebook or any other social networking site a destination place vs a vehicle that drives them to where you really want them to go (A blog, an e-commerce site, an event etc.) Like you said its about control. If you don’t “own it” then you are at the mercy of someone else who can shut you down, change you around whenever they want. At the end of the day you want to create a space, a product a brand that creates is own reality and that becomes extremely difficult when you are always in someone else’s place. Great post!

  5. Here’s another angle.
    In terms of loyalty, you can only truly achieve that by delivering high quality product that not only satisfies but exceeds a user’s expectations. So basically, the answer to “Can a business build a loyal following with a Twitter account or a Facebook Fan Page only? ” is, it depends.
    If your followers only want 140 character “nuggets” or the occasional wall post – then by staying on those platforms and posting witty content will be more than enough for some, and you *might* be able to build some loyalty – but is this the type of loyalty you want? A bunch of easy to satisfy drones? I think not. You want quality followers of value to you. As I see it – the only thing that will bring a thought-leader value, is opinion and insight. Thought leaders continously learn, and thrive off bouncing ideas off people.
    In *my opinion*, you have to turn to blogging, speaking, meeting and podcasting, etc to attract a better “class” of follower, ones that will bring strong opinion, and experience into the discussion. You want people that will truly interact with you, strengthen your knowledge and further enhance your role as a thought leader.

  6. Places like MySpace, Twitter, etc. are billboards on the information superhighway. When was the last time you dined at a billboard? Never. You dined at Joe’s restaurant, and the billboard told you how to get there.
    Each social network is a chokepoint – place your bets on it and one day you might lose it all. Twitter has stopped on more than one occasion – if Twitter *is* your business, you’d better have a plan B.

  7. Pull the plug…no, seriously pull the plug. Do you have a community now? Where are all those facebook fans?
    I’ll spin from Chris’s riff, but use the term that you’ve used often, touch points. Twitter, facebook, and the like are all touch points. As you mentioned in your latest podcast referencing journalism versus reporting. Does one have more value than the other? No, “each has value.” And so do the media tools that we have now.
    Twitter has value and folks like Gary Vaynerchuck @garyvee are maximizing it’s potential in the business community. But he still does the blogging, vidblog, podcasting, tv appearances, interviews with other bloggers/podcasters, etc. He is maximizing a lot of touch points and btw sells a lot of wine for his family biz.
    To put it another way, we all know about the five senses. Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste and Touch. We forge our relationship with the physical world by using these senses. You could get by with only using one, or two but it would be more difficult. If you had all of them, there would be the possibility of more touch points, making life just a little more easier.
    Much is the same with media (tangent: and I won’t say social media because isn’t media by definition already social.) Will it change? Sure. I’ve been in tv for 18 years and for the past 10 it’s been all about convergence…we’re still talking about convergence! Old media has not gone away and it is still a huge touch point…it may go away someday or mutate somehow but until then, you have to use as many touch points as you think will best serve your goals. i.e. a newspaper column, or a book deal 🙂
    So go ahead, pull the cord and go offline, see how many tweets your tweeting, posts your blogging, or points you’re not touching.

  8. Is it a question about “owning”?
    If I send somebody a letter, I don’t want to own it. I want the receiver to get my message.

  9. ChrisW – I would take a re-read of what Christopher S. Penn commented above. I think the analogy would be, if you send somebody a letter, don’t you want to make sure that there is a return address and someone there to respond if they do get your message and want to act?

  10. Great thought provoking post as usual, which triggers more questions about what the whole point of marketing is and is not. At the end of the day, you need to look at your situation and ask yourself if these media channels include my customer base. If they do, then develop a plan and act on it. I am new to Twitter, so I cannot comment on how useful it is. At this point, I can say that I joined it so I would updated information about those people I have decided to follow, including Mitch Joel. There are too many media channels and opportunities out there to put all of your eggs into one basket and develop a Twitter account only and expect this will provide you with longevity. The same can be said about the current status of the web and search. Search is changing, right before our eyes. Social media networks are changing the landscape. The world economy is changing motivations of what companies are marketing and marketing campaigns are changing to push “Cost Effectiveness” and “Sales”.
    I am a “Marketing By Numbers” guy who likes to know what works and what doesn’t work. I am a big fan of web analytics, SEO, SEM and LPO to drive effective results, results that ultimately deliver higher sales levels on a long-term strategy. Twitter is another place where you can really manage your brand, stay connected to those individuals and organizations that matter to you and what your goals are. But how do you measure your efforts on Twitter and tie them back to your web analytics tools? Are you simply looking for the incoming referrer traffic and seeing if those people convert to the quality lead you need to run your business? Maybe that is the answer, but I would like to hear how others in this community track their successes on Twitter or Facebook or MySpace as it relates back to their core Blog or Website. Thanks again Mitch for all of your hard work. I have learned a great deal from your blog and podcasts.

  11. @ Mitch Joel: My letter has several retourn adresses on it. Several.
    What’s the goal of a musician, of a company, a church, an author,…?
    Reach users, buyers, believers,… to „sell“ their service, product, right?
    The dynamic result of a social, technological and medial development is a change or a shift of how relationships, between individuals, are managed and working. So, do I want to reach my „Users,…“, I have to pick them up, where they are. Are they going to use new media stuff, it’s recommended to do so as well. That’s the „secret recipe“ of a good PR & Markting Person: understanding the potential Users, buyers…, know where to find them (which media) and how they „talk“.
    I completely agree that a blog as a homebase, can be a very powerful tool, and that won’t change for a while, but not everybody is going to read your blog. The market is fragmented and that’s why you have to pick up different users,… from different places. And if those places are changing, you better look for the new ones.

  12. What about a social network business model co-owned by its contributors? It would change the whole picture!
    I think social network has to explore ways to share asset value among their contributors in order to assure their durability.
    Otherwise, we can only benefit from the hype of the moment until something else replace it!

  13. I can really relate you here Mitch, with your comment about using Twitter. I don’t spend heaps of time on it, but with only 8 or 10 (haven’t counted) tweeeters showing on your home page, I find I do not do too much interaction.
    Because I use if for business I don’t stay friends with anyone who constantly talks about personal stuff. If I had the time I would, but I agree with you about promoting yourself through your own blogs etc.

  14. There has been tons of online chatter about how some of the more prominent Bloggers have abandoned their own spaces in lieu of spending time on places like Twitter and FriendFeed. The debate still rages on.

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