Rent or Own: Your Online Presence

Do you rent or own your online presence? You own your website — unless it’s a monthly subscription site. You have complete control over how it looks and sounds, you can leave it up or take it down as you please, and you can store the files on your computer and move it somewhere else if you feel like it. What’s more, all the good content at your website is beneficial for SEO for your website and builds authority for your company.

Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok, your guest blog posts, Twitter, and all those other places where you have some presence are not really yours. All it takes is a change in rules or a business decision on the part of the real owners of those sites and all your work is gone. The good stuff you post at other people’s websites is good for their SEO and builds authority for their company.

Isn’t social media important?

That doesn’t mean that social media and off site content marketing are not valuable. It just means that you should remember that you don’t own them. If you neglect your company blog while you write your guest posts, if you post great pictures at Instagram and don’t put them on your website, if you chat with people at LinkedIn or Facebook and fail to send them back to your website, then you are making a mistake.

Build great content at the places you own first. Put most of the resources at your own website. Then branch out.

If you have a monthly subscription site, or no website and you rely on social media and other off-site platforms, consider saving and archiving your content. You can then use it in the future. Before you use it, however, make sure you read that Terms and Conditions document which you probably blithely signed without reading it. In some cases, all your content at your rented space belongs to the landlord and not to you.

Facebook, for example, used to own all your stuff forever, even if you deleted it. They have backed off on that, but they still get a lot of power, according to their current terms of service:

Specifically, when you share, post, or upload content that is covered by intellectual property rights on or in connection with our Products, you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, and worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content (consistent with your privacy and application settings). This means, for example, that if you share a photo on Facebook, you give us permission to store, copy, and share it with others (again, consistent with your settings) such as service providers that support our service or other Meta Products you use. This license will end when your content is deleted from our systems.

Again, we’re not saying there’s anything wrong with this. Just that you should go into these arrangements with your eyes open. Know whether you rent or own, and make decisions accordingly.

What about ads?

Ads are a great example of rented content. Your ads should bring you patients, clients, or custiomers. But only while they’re running. They won’t help you with organic rankings or necessarily keep people coming back after they stop running. 

Measure the ROI of your ads while they’re running.

The bottom line

Invest first and most in the part of your online presence that you own: your website. It will continue to work for you as long as you keep up the good work on it. The long-term results will far outweigh the first returns you see.

Put resources toward the part of your online presence that you rent — that is, social media and guest posting — based on the short-term ROI.

Both kinds of content have value. One is definitely more reliable than the other.






4 responses to “Rent or Own: Your Online Presence”

  1. Ken Jansen Avatar

    Hi Rebecca, I love how we agree on so many things. It makes me feel smart 🙂

    For your real estate brokerage/broker/agent clients, one thing I would add is that the information you add to a broker provided website is not yours either. So if you move to another company, the brokerage changes it’s compensation plan or fee schedule and you want to leave, you lose all of your hard work.

    On my main two websites, one of which is powered by WordPress, I made sure to have one section where I meet the legal obligations regarding brokerage disclosure. So I can switch everything in under an hour if I needed to. It is always nice to know you can leave a company if things start going downhill.

    Also be sure to have your own separate email address and phone number for the same reasons. You don’t want everything with your NAP to go dead the moment you switch companies, or start your own for that matter. 🙂

  2. Rebecca Haden Avatar
    Rebecca Haden

    Wow — I didn’t know that. I’d say that would be something to check on before signing up, for sure!

  3. Ken Jansen Avatar

    This topic came up at the office yesterday, actually. More along the lines of what you were saying than mine. The discussion was about using a forum such as Blogger for your blog since it is ‘free’. As you said, the writer does not own the site or the material,so, not so great for the writer. ActiveRain is a huge real estate blogging spot. And then they sold it all to Zillow when the active user base was a somewhere over 100,000. ActiveRain is a very authoritative and active site, but why write for Zillow for free when you could be writing for yourself?

    1. Rebecca Haden Avatar
      Rebecca Haden

      Once you have plenty of content at your own site, there could be real benefits in writing a bit for other sites. It seems as though ActiveRain would mostly be seen by other real estate professionals, so it makes more sense as a networking opportunity than as a way to reach out to potential clients, but there might be other places online where you’d meet home buyers. A link back to your website from a good article at an authoritative site is still worth a lot.

      That’s only for bloggers who already post daily at their own websites, though. Why improve ActiveRain’s web presence when you should be improving your own?

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