I got a really good question last week via twitter/email and after yesterday's twitter problems, it's appropriate to address this now. Here's what I was asked:
From your perspective on blogging, what's the advantage of actually doing a blog, over having a well-developed page on Facebook--where you not only share regularly updated status reports, but can also post Notes (where I imagine what would have been posted to a blog would be posted on Facebook), can easily share media, engage people in conversation and relationships, and organically have your updates propagated to other friends' pages, etc.?
It's an excellent question and one that does come up in some form when I speak and teach.
First, let's look at what happened on Twitter. Yesterday, with no explanation for nearly 4 hours, hundreds of thousands of legitimate twitter accounts were suspended citing "suspicious activity." People on Facebook, FriendFeed and blogs went nuts.
OMG! We can't communicate with our followers!
I admit that I got a bit freaked out too when I discovered my account had been suspended when I tried to retweet a client's blog post and got a big warning message. That was before I knew that so many other accounts were suspended. Once it became apparent that it wasn't just me, I calmed down. Within about four hours most accounts had been restored and all was good again in the world ;-)
But what if this happened on Facebook? I have many colleagues whose accounts have been shut down with no warning or explanation. It took weeks to get a response and get their accounts reinstated.
This is why I "preach" that your blog is your hub. It's your home base. It's where you want to drive all that social traffic ... to a space on the web you own and control. Yes, of course something could happen to your server and shut down your site, but at least you're in control.
You are not in control of what happens on Facebook and twitter. Those sites do not belong to you and you are at their mercy. What if you had spent tons of time building a fan page, posting content via the Notes app, building your list of friends and fans, etc. and one day Facebook shuts down? Now what? You may have lost everything if that's you're only home on the web.
Many smart people call social networking sites "satellites" or "outposts." Chris Brogan has an excellent post outlining what he calls "a simple presence framework" where he talks about using your outposts to socialize and connect and then gently guide people back to your home base (blog!).
Ultimately, my goal is to have content that is so attractive that people will want to trade their email address for a free report, video course, etc. I connect socially on Facebook and twitter (and I have a presence on many other social networking sites as well) having conversations and sharing links to my content. Occasionally I promote a teleclass or new product or use an affiliate link to promote something a colleague is offering.
I drive people back to one of my blogs where I can get more intimate and share more information in depth. This helps prospective clients get to "know, like and trust" me, which may entice them to go to the next level and request my free report or buy my product. Once they do that, they're on my email list. They've said "yes, I want to know/get more from you."
New people find out about me every day on Facebook and Twitter, and as they watch, listen and interact, they decide whether or not to follow me home (to my blog). If Facebook or twitter were to disappear, poof! -- without a blog and an email list, all my friends and followers would be gone. But because my primary connection points are via my blogs and I frequently offer valuable content and programs, I would not suffer (too much!) if Facebook or twitter disappeared forever.
As Mari Smith says in her post about lessons learned from the twitter incident:
Twitter [and Facebook] is only one platform for visibility, branding, community building and connecting. It’s vital to your social media success to be diversified and have a) a built-out Facebook profile (unless you’re choosing to only use your profile for close personal friends/family), b) a built-out Facebook Fan Page, c) an active blog with increasing subscribers, d) an active account on LinkedIn with increasing contacts e) an active channel on YouTube, f) an active, built-out account on FriendFeed… and many, many more platforms.
And here's a two minute video where I talk about your blog being the hub of your online activity.
So what's the lesson here?
- Build a blog as your home base - don't depend only on 3rd party sites for your web presence
- Build a list, separate from your sites, so you can communicate and connect and sell
Where do you stand on this issue: why blog when you can use Facebook for your online presence?