This post is all about how to safeguard and grow your online network.
How frustrated do you feel, when you’ve just washed your car, you take it out for a spin and a massive truck goes buy and covers it in dirt? What about when you’ve been working on a document for 20 minutes, your computer crashes and you suddenly realise you lost all that work!
Frustrating isn’t it?
Then just imagine how frustrated you will feel, if that social network you have spent months building on your favourite social networking site, gets trashed; following an unpopular acquisition or mass user exodus!
I wrote a post yesterday, about FaceBook buying FriendFeed. Within hours of the acquisition, many established FriendFeed users told me they will stop using the service. Others are posting messages, telling people how to get in touch with them – because they believe FriendFeed will be closed by the new owners.
No one outside FaceBook know’s what they are planning to do with FriendFeed, but that’s not the point.
The point is, this perfectly demonstrates how exposed we can be, is we decide to rely too heavily on any single, third-party, for the development of our online network.
I believe there are two lessons here:
- Firstly, make sure you have at least 2 places online, where you can connect with your network – not just one!
- Secondly, develop a central hub for your online presence, which YOU control – Not something governed by a third-party, who could pull the plug on you, suspend your account (or go broke) at any time.
Self hosted blogs
In my experience, the best hub for your online network is a self-hosted blog. By hosting your own commercial blog, you maintain control. Host it for free on someone else’s platform and they control it. Through your blog, you can connect with people, share ideas and grow a community. Plus, with plugins and tools like Google Friend Connect, you can enjoy many of the features of a social networking site, on your blog.
No matter what happens with your account at; Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn or FriendFeed – your blog will remain a constant contact point for your online community.
If you are investing a lot of your time and energy developing a single, online network, this might be a good time to consider how future-proof your strategy is.