Is This Really So Difficult To Grasp?
For years, we’ve shared reasons you should blog and that you’d basically have to be crazy to yield your presence to the stream. The path we advocate is simple: focus opt in at the source and approach the web as if you are a media company.
Yet we continue to see businesses, people and publications make the same mistake: overvaluing or relying totally on other people’s platforms. Then, either complaining the web doesn’t work (it does) or realizing (correctly) they are doing it wrong and return to focus on an independent presence.
This part of digital marketing is not complex. Produce content and accrue digital equity in a way that is platform agnostic so inevitable (yes, inevitable) changing user preference isn’t disruptive to your art, business or blog. You should not approach the web the way users do and flirt from platform to platform if you actually seek to build a community that thrives long term. You’re not just another user after all if you’re someone actively interested in seeing your ideas get shared.
Remember, it’s the creativity that matters, not the tools. Setting up the right workflow of content on the web that let’s you focus on your creativity is not just imperative, it’s actually the easy part.
So it was good to see famed cartoonist / author (and all around nice guy) Hugh MacLeod recently declare that he’s reclaiming blogging and giving up on Facebook and Twitter:
Earlier today I told everybody on Twitter and Facebook, that I’m leaving Twitter and Facebook.
Because Facebook and Twitter are too easy. Keeping up a decent blog that people actually want to take the time to read, that’s much harder. And it’s the hard stuff that pays off in the end.
Besides, even if they’re very good at hiding the fact, over on Twitter and Facebook, it’s not your content, it’s their content.
The content on your blog, however, belongs to you, and you alone. People come to your online home, to hear what you have to say, not to hear what everybody else has to say. This sense of personal sovereignty is important.
Which is smart because when you have a holistical web strategy that works, it’s crystal clear social media marketing is far more than Facebook and Twitter. While I’m not advising you to completely give up on Facebook and Twitter (at the very least, syndicate) Hugh is making the right choice by putting his self-hosted publishing first.
Hugh’s post was reminiscent of when we wrote about Leo Laporte and his hard lesson learned:
It makes me feel like everything I’ve posted over the past four years on Twitter, Jaiku, Friendfeed, Plurk, Pownce, and, yes, Google Buzz, has been an immense waste of time. I was shouting into a vast echo chamber where no one could hear me because they were too busy shouting themselves.
Of course, readers here are already well aware of the need to self publish pretty much forever. Ask yourself: would TechCrunch give up TechCrunch.com for Facebook or Twitter? Would The New York Times give up their site? Of course not. They would have to be insane to do that, as they would be basically handing over their own equity and communities to someone else’s business. That’s what you do when you make a social outpost your hub. Your business is not any different than the NYT or TechCrunch: they just happen to sell ads, and you happen to sell products or services (or even just share ideas).
Our industry is obsessed with platforms: what’s your Google+ strategy? What are Facebook marketing best practices? These are the wrong questions to ask and in fact most companies fail miserably at the real opportunity digital publishing enables: the ability to go direct to consumer with content in such a way that can be shared across all platforms efficiently. Get the independent web presence part right first: before that you actually have no business in someone else’s platform.
On the flip of the spectrum, you see savvy companies like Floor64 focusing on their blog, Techdirt (now over 800,000 subscribers) which is basically promotion for their insight community. You see 37 Signals continue to focus on their Signal to Noise blog (a key marketing tactic helping them grow to millions of customers). You see Chris Brogan continuing to launch products and become more well known via his personal blog. If you asked any of these people to start using Twitter or Facebook more than publishing original, useful and compelling ideas they’d laugh.
But watching the way other brands and people approach the web, even smart people like Hugh and Leo I have to ask: is this stuff really so difficult to grasp? Why?