Don’t Put All Your Social Media Eggs In One Basket

So, a rumour says that Yahoo is  shutting down Deliciousor not. Cue a mass exodus as many people, including myself, look for ways to back-up thousands of bookmarks they’ve saved over the years. They also look to backup their photos on Flickr, as people realize that site may not be a sure thing after all.

Meanwhile, Facebook rolls out revamped Page layouts for brands… and then rolls them back, after first taking their site down for a while.

Both of these situations in the last week illustrate one thing:

It’s risky to put all of your eggs in one basket, especially if you don’t own that basket.

Not surprisingly, when the new Page layouts briefly launched last week, the first reaction of many of my surprised colleagues and developer friends was something along the lines of “oh, crap.”

Why?

Because this is one of the busiest times of year for many brands. Because many companies have campaigns in market over the run-up to the holidays, and any change in layout or functionality runs the risk of breaking or severely hindering the effectiveness of those promotions.

Many people seemed to share the sentiment of my friend Jeremy Wright, who tweeted:

FB has a fundamental responsibility to not disrupt their platform the week before Xmas.

I don’t blame him – companies are sinking big money into Facebook nowadays. It’s not just a free tool – it’s a key part of marketing activities for many brands (and has long since ceased to be free for many given application development and media buy costs).

These two situations serve to reinforce a point I often make nowadays:

Third-party social media tools have many advantages. However, you don’t own them. You don’t own the posts on them; you don’t own the design, the layout or the functionality; you don’t own the data held by them. In short, you don’t control them.

That’s why you shouldn’t throw all of your social media eggs into someone else’s basket.

So:

  • Spread it around. If resources permit, incorporate multiple sites into your approach. Integrate.
  • Own your hub. David Armano says that 2010 was the year that you went where the people were; 2011 will be the year where social functionality makes websites fashionable once again. Create your own social hub and control it. Control the design; control the paths you point people down; control the data; control the functionality.
  • Use third-party sites, but be conscious that they might not always be around… or keep their rules the same. If your site relies exclusively on Facebook’s Open Graph for sign-ins, for example, then Facebook going down must be pretty traumatic.

(Image: Shutterstock)

  • Facebook may have changed some things around (and I agree, it was a terrible decision to make in the middle of holiday buying season), but I can’t remember the last time I got the equivalent of the Fail Whale on FB.

    • True. Facebook’s problems tend to stem largely from changes they make that
      can ‘break’ pages and apps (API changes; page layout/dimension changes)
      rather than downtime.

  • Facebook is in business for THEIR success, not OURS. Sometimes, those objectives correlate. Often they do not. We can’t keep building our social media house on rented land.

  • Well said. I tell people all the time that they can’t build their entire platform on land they don’t own. They need to be prepared and be portable. The whole social space is shifting and evolving at such a frenetic pace that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up. Businesses need to make sure that they at least have a secure home base to operate from. Use social media sites as peripheral outposts but keep the main base on owned real estate.

    • Hub and spoke. It’s all about the hub and spoke. 🙂

  • That some really good insight, I have been thinking about developing my traffic through delicious recently just havent gotten round to it, mostly been networking on facebook, so how long do you think facebook would last?

  • John Carson

    Dave, try http://www.diigo.com/

    John.

  • Which means that companies should be using these social tools to “drive traffic” to a hub that is owned by them: personal/corporate website.

    kk

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