Free websites, social media platforms and other “free” services…
I have, for quite some time, touted that one needs to build their internet web presence on their own website and use a number of the free services to supplement their efforts. Back when I was in the mortgage industry, I joined a major blogging / social website for real estate known as ActiveRain.com. This website is a great resource for Realtors and mortgage professionals and I encourage any of my mortgage and real estate clients to join and use it. However, I began to notice that many agents there were using the site as their primary means of establishing an online presence. Now, I am beginning to see that with social websites like Twitter… the only real presence someone has is their Twitter account.
Nothing against ActiveRain or Twitter, but that isn’t a smart move. These programs, while free and offering great opportunity to extend your message, should only be used to add to the presence you already have with your own website! Your website should be considered your “home base” from where you reach out in other methods as well. But all other methods should eventually lead people back to your own website.
Why does having your own website matter?
With so many choices online, why should you pay to have your own website? The main reason (and most powerful) to have your own website is Control. You control what is shown online, how it is edited, when it is taken down… I could go on and on. The bottom line is that with your own website, you control every aspect of what happens. With free mediums, you are relying on them to make such decisions, which could be abrupt and devastating.
I recently read an article about a prominent SEO professional that had built a great following on Twitter. If you use Twitter, you are already familiar with the viral method in which messages are “re-tweeted”, or republished on others accounts. Majority of the users do this all the time to pass along information to their followers. Unfortunately, this accepted practice got this SEO expert banned, with no warning! He simply re-tweeted a link to a scam website to warn others about it… poof! Gone. Fortunately, he had a large following and was able after several days to get his account re-instated, but someone at Twitter had to make that decision. He had no control.
Consider what might have happened if he did not get reinstated. All the time and effort he had place in building his Twitter account and following would have simply evaporated. What if an agent’s ActiveRain account was terminated? What if one of these free services just couldn’t turn a profit and eventually had to stop or reduce services? What if you are the king of MySpace today and MySpace gets dropped by the masses for the bigger Facebook tomorrow? What is coming that will be bigger and better than Twitter?
You need to have control of your own presence online, and you can only have that kind of control with your own website! By no means am I saying not to use other platforms, such as the examples of ActiveRain or Twitter. Actually, I encourage that for my clients. But do not make them your main (or worse, only) source of being Found online!