When we curate an online presence, we often think of it as our digital “home” – a space we’ve carved out to voice our thoughts, showcase our talents, and build our personal brand. But in the current era of big tech dominance, who’s really in charge of our online homes?
Imagine spending years meticulously building a house only to wake up one day to find the foundation has been removed. This is the digital equivalent of what many face when popular online platforms change their algorithms or policies. Today, your content might be seen by thousands; tomorrow, it might be restricted to just a handful, all due to changes you have no control over.
Major social networks like Facebook, X*, and Instagram have become vital platforms for personal branding and content sharing. However, we often forget one crucial detail: we’re essentially “renting” space on their platforms. They set the rules, and these rules can change overnight. Remember when Instagram altered its feed algorithm? Many small businesses and influencers saw dramatic decreases in engagement. Or consider Medium.com, a fantastic platform that has, over time, adjusted its policies and algorithms, influencing the reach of many writers. Even right here, on LinkedIn, we’re all just sticking a finger in the air trying to work out the best engagement strategies.
These platforms, while useful, aren’t truly yours. They’re businesses that can prioritise their bottom line over user needs.
Federated alternatives like BlueSky** and Mastodon*** bring to the table a decentralised approach. With no single entity having full control, these platforms offer a semblance of digital democracy. But even with these platforms, unless you’re running your own instance, there’s still a level of dependency.
So, what’s the solution? In essence: Own your online real estate.
Having your own website, with your domain, is akin to having a piece of land where you are in complete control. It’s a place where you dictate the rules, design, and, most importantly, how your content is presented and distributed. It’s a stable base where people can always find you, regardless of changing algorithms or shifting trends.
Linking back to your website from social networks means you’re driving traffic to your turf, where you have full control over the user experience. It’s a safeguard, a backup against the unpredictability of third-party platforms. It allows for continuity, stability, and true ownership of your content.
To sum up, while it’s essential to leverage popular platforms to expand reach and influence, it’s equally crucial to establish an independent online home. It’s an investment in your digital future, ensuring that no matter where the online winds blow, you remain firmly rooted, in charge, and unshakable.
Because at the end of the day, if you don’t own your online space, someone else does.
* the social network formerly known as Twitter, pretty much run by a Bond villain
**the one you haven’t heard of – or promptly forgot about
***the one you have no idea how it really works