Often for reasons of cost savings or convenience, many businesses choose to rely on what we call “borrowed media” – free, cloud based sources such as BlogSpot, Facebook, Instagram and other free services for their business’ entire online presence instead of investing in their own website. The price tag of placing your business entirely in the hands of such free, third party services could actually become quite high though!
You have far less control than you may have thought over what you place on such services. When you use borrowed media services, you do not own the platform or the content that you post there. The service retains all rights to block or delete any or all of your information. Why? Well, when you use their services to post your content, they own it! They create their own usage policies and decide how to interpret those policies.
One such example was an artist who lost 14 years of work and blog posts when Google took down his blog. His work wasn’t backed up, so once Google removed his blog, he lost all of his work over a service agreement issue. Had it been on his own blog website, all of his work would still remain to be found by viewers and search engines.
Have you heard of Facebook’s “Friendmageddon” that left publishers screaming for more organic traffic? Early this summer Facebook made an algorithm shift to weight the posts and images of users’ actual friends so that they appeared more often in feeds than a business and news post would. Thus, slanting the information towards more personal stories and away from more commercial endeavors. (A common view is that this is to encourage post boosting and ads versus altruism. Regardless of the reason, it’s their site, so it’s in their control and not yours.)
Remember, just because what you publish on those services is available for the public to access, doesn’t guarantee it will be seen. Ever blocked someone on Facebook or hid a post because you found it so offensive? Exactly! What about when MySpace and AOL were all the rage? What if you had heavily invested in having your business presence in just those services? Ouch!
We always advise our clients to have their own websites and add content that is interesting to their audience on their own site on a regular basis. They should then use their “borrowed media” presence to help promote this content and communicate directly to their audience on a timely basis with Facebook posts, tweets and the like.