As you may have heard, a few days back Posterous decided to shut down after being acquired by Twitter a year ago. Although Posterous was seen rather rarely around here (Tumblr seemed much more common), I’m reminded of our fondness for owned media over outposts. Had you been using Posterous for your corporate blog, you would now be tasked with pulling down all of that content and finding a new place to house it or risk losing it completely. If you don’t know all the ins and outs of SEO, you’ll also like lose much of the search ranking you would otherwise have built up on your own site.
While all of these tools like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube and Posterous are indeed wonderful to use, and work as fantastic outposts for your owned media blog or site, they should never replace a site that you own and fully control. I first heard that term coined by Chris Brogan and I think it suits the purpose of hosted social networks perfectly. Use these tools to provide links back to your content on your site, and spread the word, but never make them the primary host for that content. As a case in point, we recently helped a new client re-design their Facebook promotion strategy as recent changes in Facebook’s policies and display algorithm had all but destroyed a marketing campaign that had been in the works for some time. As everyone has come to realize, when you don’t own it, you have no say in when change may come and how badly it could affect your business.
Even if you’re paying for software, I’d still be extremely conservative about placing too much stock in it being around permanently. Whenever I see ‘lifetime’ pricing on a piece of SaaS (software as a service), I get concerned. It’s highly unlikely that this company or software will exist in a five years to a decade, and even if it does, it will hopefully have evolved and changed entirely in that time, potentially rendering it useless for your purposes. The same goes for your base site or blog. Pay a reputable web host to house your site and make frequent back ups. That way you can always pick up and move to a new host should the need arise. You can’t do that as easily when you don’t have a monetary interest in the platform. Forever doesn’t exist on the internet.
What do you think? Have you had your marketing efforts undermined by software or services that were changed out from under you?