As the club leader of the Social Media Examiner Blogging Club, I see the occasional post or comment about whether people should skip having a blog and post their content to Facebook, Google+, or Twitter instead. Or I see photographers saying they don’t need a website, they’ll just use Flickr instead. While you should be active on these networks, it doesn’t mean you should depend on them 100%. Let’s look at the reasons…
You Are Subject to the Network’s Rules
This goes for any social network and hosted blog platform including WordPress.com, Blogger, Posterous, Tumblr, and so forth. When you post your content on one of these networks, you are subject to their terms of service. If you violate any of their rules, you could have a ton of content and comments one day, and nothing the next.
This means that you actually do need to read these networks’ terms of service carefully to make sure things like your content’s topic, affiliate links, and other things you are interested in posting are not going to be in violation of the network. Otherwise, you can say goodbye to your content.
Hosting companies, on the other hand, are usually pretty lenient on content so long as you aren’t doing posting anything illegal, adult in nature, violent, or otherwise against basic moral code. Topics like SEO and affiliate marketing won’t get you banned, and they probably won’t have any problem with you uploading a large image advertisement for your own website.
You Are Subject to the Network’s Changes
Does it frustrate you when Facebook or Google+ revamps their design, and your only choice is whether you will spend the time (and possibly dollars) to get your profiles and pages fixed? When you own your own website or blog, you don’t have to worry about someone else forcing you to change your design. You can pretty much abandon it for a year, come back, and see that it is still intact. Redesigns happen only with your consent.
You Are Subject to the Network’s Backup System
One of my chief concerns about anything I have online is what would happen if a server should crash. When it comes to my own WordPress sites, I have the ability to go in, backup my database & files, store them on a hard drive, and protect them in a bank vault if I so choose. Networks like WordPress.com probably have a pretty tight backup system in place, but you can’t guarantee that every network will. And if your profile or blog is removed due to terms of service violations, then they don’t have to give you a backup so you can move your content elsewhere.
You Are Subject to the Network’s Ownership of Your Content
Pinterest isn’t the first or last network to claim some ownership of content once it is uploaded to their network. What if you decide that you want to take a piece of content down? Are you sure that it won’t be archived somewhere on that network’s database, with their right to use it already covered in the TOS you agreed to when you signed up?
You Are Subject to the Network’s Success or Failure
Last, but not least, if you don’t own your own domain, then you are subject to whatever might happen to your network. Facebook is not likely to be bought out any time soon, but what about Instagram? You thought your photos there were safe in their small, fuzzy network, and now they will be owned by Facebook. Or worse, think about when a network is bought out by a larger company and then closed. Unless you forget to renew your domain or pay your hosting fees, you won’t have to worry about any of those things when you own your own website.
Those are just a few reasons to really look at keeping your content on your own blog or website, and not just on another hosted blog network or social network. What other reasons can you think of?