Jim's Marketing Blog

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Twitter buys Posterous!

Hot on the news that Posterous has been acquired by Twitter, I have a question for you:

If you were renting a house from someone, would you pay to have a luxury swimming pool built?

The obvious answer is NO. It would be crazy. You’d be paying tens of thousands for something, which you may only get a few months use of. The home owner could kick you out right after the pool has been built and paid for. You’d also be paying to increase the value of the home owners property, not your own.

There’s nothing for you, in a deal like that.

Posterous acquired by Twitter

It was announced today that Posterous has been bought by Twitter, in what analysts see as a talent grab. In other words, the Posterous team are joining the Twitter team, in order to work on Twitter’s development. Twitter is interested in the people, not the Posterous product.

Twitter, Posterous and that swimming pool

Many people, including a lot of small business owners, decided to use Posterous as their blogging platform.

  • They invested time creating content on their Posterous blog.
  • They added the Posterous address to their marketing literature.
  • They encouraged people, including prospective clients, to connect with them on Posterous.
  • They spent money on premium Posterous products.

They will wake up today, to learn that they are likely to need to move to a new platform soon. They now have valid concerns that Posterous may be either canned, or as happened when Facebook bought Friendfeed, left to fade away as the team focus on their new project.

Posterous Users are rightly concerned

This comment from the Posterous post, which announced Twitter’s acquisition is in line with many similar comments and observations:

Your FAQ is littered with “We’ll give you ample notice before any changes or disruptions to the service and we’ll provide specific instructions for exporting your content” But you don’t provide any clear dialogue on the future of the service. Your FAQ makes it sound like you are shutting things down, but very indirectly. Can we get a more clear answer?

The person leaving that comment clearly has concerns that all the value he has created there will be lost. He knows it’s now out of his hands. He wants answers. Maybe he needs answers. However, he built his swimming pool in a house he was renting and as a result, he has no control other than to export his data today and do what I believe EVERY small business owner should do: Build a blog on PROPERTY YOU OWN.

Twitter’s acquisition of Posterous: The lesson?

The lesson here, is that for a commercial blog, you need to have control. Every free platform comes with a cost, an enormous cost for small business owners. The cost of a free blog is lack of control. For example, WordPress.com have suspended and in many cases erased business blogs, which they believed violated their terms of use.

If you are serious about developing a successful, sustainable business blog, which YOU are in control of, you need to pay for a professional solution. I use a self-hosted WordPress blog and I am glad I own it. It generates a 6 figure income for me every year and I’d be very concerned, if I awoke today and found its future in doubt, because of some merger or acquisition.

The cost of owning your own blog is low enough for any small business to cover. You can get yourself a URL (web address) for peanuts, a copy of WordPress for free and some inexpensive hosting for as low as $6 a month. This puts you in control of what could be your most valuable marketing asset. I

It will also ensure you never find yourself in the position of that guy I quoted earlier, and many others, who will wake up this morning wondering what’s going on and expecting the worst.

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Jim Connolly

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17 Comments

  1. Hi Jim

    I think this is an important subject to consider and opens up the wider picture of ownership of information and which platforms you use. After all, who is to say where the likes of Facebook will be in a couple of years – they provide a service that billions of private folk and millions of businesses use for free – but when they (or other like them) decide to alter the settings, UI and so on, you’ve just got to roll with their changes.

    The bigger picture is, as you mentioned in your post – if you want something to be done professionally and correctly, you should be prepared to pay for it.

    Its the same as an acquintance offering to paint your house in their spare time as a favour vs getting the decorators in – one will do a quick and professional job in a given time, whereas the other will take place every now and then and will ultimately cost more in terms of inconvenience and resources badly allocated.

    • You make a very good point there, Tom, regarding ownership.

      When you share content on their platform, you are building them a media asset. They provide the bandwidth, you do all the work, they get all the traffic.

  2. Hey Jim

    I wrote a post on the importance of owning your own content only a few days ago when yet another person proudly showed me their business blog on a free platform and completely disconnected from their main website.

    It’s not just a case of not being in control of your content but any traffic is going towards the free platform’s rankings not that of your website

    And here is a very timely reminder.

    With Best Wishes
    jo

    • Thank you Jim and Jo!

      A most timely bit of help from you both. I was just about to sort out a free site for a friend, but will be straight back to the drawing board to do it differently now.

      WKR Linda

      • Hi Linda, Jim explained how to set up a dedicated self-hosted blog but if your friend already has a website, you can set up the blog as a subdomain and just upload WordPress.org from your cpanel. That way you get the traffic as well as own your own content :)

        • In addition to having the traffic on your site and not on the “free” host, you gain the added benefit of applying your content to your site in terms of authority (say from a Google standpoint.)

          While search engine traffic may not be the end-all to a sustainable business model, hosting on a free platform that isn’t on your domain dilutes your presence in the eyes of most algorithms.

          Best to keep the bulk of your content on your domain.

    • Well put, Jo.

      Kevin, you make a sound point about the SEO – You can’t export that as easily as you can your posts.

  3. I love the swimming pool analogy, Jim.

    Whether it’s Blogger, Squidoo, WordPress.com or Posterous it’s a dodgy game to play.

    Hosting your content on free platforms can be a great tool in your marketing arsenal, but too many people rely on them too much, YouTube is a good example. Try talking to them once you find all your videos have been taken down and if that was your sole source of traffic then prepare to be philosophical about it and learn your lesson coz you ain’t going to see the videos again in a hurry.

    I think of it a bit like fly posting – you put your ad out there and if you’re lucky it’ll stick around for a while, but sooner or later it’ll get removed. You’ve just got to accept that and not put a disproportional amount of effort into it.

    • Absolutely, Peter.

      The bottom line for business bloggers has to be the ownership of the information and control over how it’s used.

  4. This is such a great point that’s often overlooked or even misdirected.

    Having a “core internet presence” that you own and control is key to stability, adding other elements that may increase exposure is great but change is accelerating and the reasons that pop up (like twitter wanting the posterous peoples talent), can be deadly business wise, and it’s wasteful of all the precious time and energy someone may have spent on their internet presence.

    I like the way that you put this useful information out here Jim, we sure can use some more straight shooters like you a midst all the noise.

    Thanks

    • As you say, Rick, the topic doesn’t seem to get the coverage it deserves.

      Thanks for the kind words and your support, as always.

  5. I totally agree with this sentiment, Jim. I am often pointing out to clients the danger of relying heavily on free social media tools for all their marketing needs. Building their own valuable database from traffic driven to a website/blog is always going to be massively powerful.

    As you rightly say, these free platforms are outside of your control and can change anything whenever they feel like doing so.

    Great point well made, as always.

    • Hi Nicky. Yes, it’s about getting that mix right.

      The key for me, is to have a blog as the hub (as Chris Brogan named it) of your marketing presence.

      If Twitter, Facebook and Google+ etc were to delete my accounts tomorrow, I’d still have the community around this blog and a daily readership of thousands.

      I know many people, who have blogs they have not posted on in months, yet Facebook accounts they contribute to every day.

  6. Obviously it’s another talent acquisition. I wouldn’t mind having a piece of posterous though

  7. Great post Jim, I agree. What you give is what you get. Anything free is hiding hazards. Nobody gives you something for free, without taking advantage of you. It is worth to give some money and have peace of mind. It’s like paying insurance fees to protect your store!

  8. Interesting thoughts on the takeover, thanks for sharing.

    Agree on the WordPress point as well, being in control is a very simple process but due to a lack of knowledge a lot of small businesses make bad decisions when it comes to their online presence.

  9. Posterous provides very good export tools so it is time to export and set up your own.

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