I hope you enjoyed last week’s conversation about focus days, free days, buffer days and scheduling. As Henry Mintzberg said: “You are your calendar – how you spend your time demonstrates what you care about.”
On to this week. Many of us are creating content for, and marketing on, social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. The questions are: Is this a dangerous practice? And if so, what should we be doing instead?
And if you’re new to the blog, welcome aboard. This is what we do!
One thing I found last week … from NACVA’s QuickRead:
New Research Points the Way to More Referrals
According to a new study by NACVA and Hinge Marketing, most firms could be getting far more referrals if they made a few changes to their marketing. This article shares the findings.
What is digital sharecropping?
Originally, the term “sharecropping” referred to a farming practice that became common after the Civil War. Big landowners rented small plots (and sometimes even the tools) to individual farmers who worked the fields … and took most of the profits generated from the crops.
Today, “digital sharecropping” means large internet companies renting us their platforms and tools (Apps) so we can create and spread our content … and they take most of the profits generated from our efforts.
The hidden economics
Think about this: Without our content, companies like Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Medium, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and YouTube wouldn’t have anything to distribute and nothing to sell. They rely on us to drive interest in, and traffic to, their sites.
The more content we create for free, the more valuable these platforms become. We do the work. They reap the profits.
And we don’t give it much thought. In fact, we are enamored with the business model – contributing our content in exchange for attention, not dollars.
What are the problems?
Social media platforms should only augment the presence we already have with our own(ed) website and blog or newsletter. They shouldn’t be the presence. That’s dangerous. Here’s why.
- If we’re relying on these platforms to generate leads, we’re hoping the landlord will continue to like us and support our business. But the fact is, the landlord has no idea who we are and likely doesn’t care.
- We don’t own the content. I mean the content is ours if we keep a copy for ourselves, but once it’s on a site, the company’s terms of service take over.
- If they change the terms, as they often do, our existing and future content is subject to those changes.
- If we inadvertently violate the terms of service and our account gets temporarily or permanently shut down, we just lost everything we invested in that platform.
- Or what if the platform, which was distributing our content for free to everyone that followed us, intentionally reduces our reach so that we now have to pay to “advertise” the same content to the same audience?
- Finally, the landlord could lose favor among users for a new platform (Digg) or disappear (MySpace), and our content would fall into the darkness with them.
So what should we do instead?
I think the solution is obvious. We need to spend most of our time and energy building assets that we control. And so there are three things we should be creating today and continue to focus on for the life of our practice.
- A great website with our own hosting.
- An email list of leads, prospects, clients, and referral sources in our niche.
- A reputation for providing high-quality content for #1 and #2.
Then, our operational strategy should be to use social media platforms to build an audience of clients/prospects … convert them to a community (Seth Godin calls it a tribe) … and drive awareness back to our website/newsletter … for products and services we currently sell or plan to offer.
(Note that the “selling” DOES NOT occur on social media platforms – it happens on our website. Simply put, social media platforms should only be used to provide evidence of our credibility while sharing glimpses of our personality … you know, like good old one-to-one relationship marketing.)
Don’t make it more complicated than this!
PS – I’m a fan of actionable ideas that move you forward, so I hope you find this content useful. If something resonates and you want to reach out directly, you can email me or schedule a call with me!
PPS – If you think we share common interests, connect with me on LinkedIn. If you like my blog, please recommend it to a colleague.