Stop Digital Sharecropping. Own Your Content, Reviews, and Testimonials
I grew up in the restaurant business in a small ski town in Colorado. In the 80’s my parents purchased a successful Italian restaurant that specialized in all you can eat pasta, homemade pizza, a 50 item salad bar, and a bar to watch the game and have a beer. The restaurant was wildly successful for many years, as one of the few restaurants in the small ski town that could handle large families for an affordable meal in a ski resort. My parents invested in technology (inventory systems tracked through old PLU system cash registers) before anyone else in the community. They invested in their menu items, spending time at food expos and trade shows, as well as in building their own recipes for all of their sauces and dishes. There was one asset that they didn’t control and it was arguably the most vital part of their business they didn’t control, the building their restaurant was in.
My parents worked hard to own every area of their business except the building the restaurant was in. One day the building’s owner, decided they could get more for the space as individual offices, than as a restaurant. When the lease term was up, the owner raised the rent to more than 3 times what my parents had been paying. When this happened, the family business was in trouble. The business model couldn’t afford the new rent payments and still eek out a livelihood. Because my parents didn’t own the building, their choices for the business were limited, take on the expense of moving the business to a new location or shut the business down.
See my parents were sharecropping… building a business in someone else’s building. The landlord was willing to rent the space but had total control over the cost of renting the space. My parents had no control over that space, and, in the end, not having total control over the building was the business’s undoing under that business model.
So why do I bring this up on in an article about building websites? In today’s social media culture, I hear questions like: Why do I need a webpage for my business? I can just use Google My Business or a Facebook Business page. These are all great tools for your business. Now, stop and think about all of the time you are spending on Facebook to curate followers, Twitter to respond to tweets, Instagram publishing photos, and LinkedIn curating your profile. You are using their content delivery systems to store your data. This means you are digital sharecropping.
What would happen tomorrow if any of these digital landlords decided to start charging to get access, or disappeared the public mind, like MySpace or Digg? All of the content you have been building and curating for your business on their platforms could just disappear or cost you more than you are able to pay to get access to it.
It is time to start getting smart about your digital assets and become your own landlord and stop sharecropping. It is time to be in control of your content and your reputation, and it starts with your website. Now, I am not advocating that you abandon these content delivery services; quite the contrary. These services should be used to distribute your content, as partners, but not be the source for that content.
When thinking about your website, I recommend owning/controlling the following assets of your digital business.
- A well-designed website on a hosting account you control
- Opt-in Email list that you can export to any provider
- A reputation for providing value-adding content to your audience
Keeping these assets under your control allows you to control your digital footprint. Also, by keeping this information under your control, you can ensure your reputations across all distribution channels are working together with your website to build your reputation.
Sharing your content without sharecropping
Here is a simple workflow for your business’s blog content that will allow you to own your content and utilize the power of social networks and adware to drive traffic to your site.
- Create all content on a website/URL you own (just like this blog post for me)
- Make sure that content has an enticing image for sharing.
- Setup Title Tags, Meta Descriptions, and Schema before publishing, so they show up right on social media previews.
- When you are ready, publish your Article to the world.
- Take a snippet of the article and put it into your favorite email newsletter, like MailChimp or Constant Contact, with a link to your full article in the post and the image from the post, to drive people to your site to read the entire article.
- Head over to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media outlets. Write a quick post about your article with a link back to your article on your website.
- Once people get to your website, be sure to have a way for them to sign up for your newsletter and share your post with others. This step is vital to growing a following.
Think about your other content as well. Can you curate testimonials, FAQ’s and other information on to your website, that your visitors can find easily? Take a review from yelp and add it to your testimonials, or a question from Facebook and add it to the FAQ page. These are great ways to keep the content on your site fresh, and still be adding valuable content to help your website’s reputation with your future customers.
Now it is time to get out there and start to curate and distribute your content in a way that will keep you in control of all of your website’s assets, build your distribution reach and grow your reputation.