Why you should reduce your reliance on social media

As organic reach dwindles and social media companies shift their algorithms, some communicators are looking for alternatives to publish their content.

Is it time to stop searching for the perfect platform?

From time to time, an opinion piece will emerge confidently stating that hosting your content is a waste of time because MySpace, Bebo, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram or Medium is where your audience is hanging out. The argument is that it’s more efficient to host your content where people already are.

It’s a compelling argument, but here’s why you should abandon platform hunting and simply host your content on your own website:

1. You’ve got full ownership of your future.

If your content strategy revolves around a social media channel or channels, you’re at the mercy of the next algorithm change. Things can be going great when all of a sudden 80 percent of your audience disappears for reasons you have absolutely no control over. That’s unlikely to happen if you’ve got a balanced strategy in place with content hosted on your own site and promoted using the PESO model, which combines paid, earned, shared and owned methods.

2. Social media trends are just that—trends

Facebook’s popularity among young people—once its lifeblood—is declining, and now it’s just where your aunt’s go to snoop into your life. Instagram Stories is killing SnapChat with a little help from Kylie Jenner and Rihanna. Twitter continually fails to capture the imagination of most consumers. Who knows what the next big thing will be—and how long it will last? If you host your content primarily on one social media channel, you’re screwed when your target audience moves on.

3. It does nothing for your search engine rankings.

Someone might have told you that search engine optimization (SEO) is dead. Well, unless people have suddenly stopped using Google to find answers to their questions, that’s obviously not true. Getting found via Google is one of the best ways to reach people who are researching the products and services you sell, but who don’t know you exist yet.

Hosting content on your own site and driving traffic to it remains one of the simplest ways to boost your SEO rankings.

4. You get better analytics.

Compared to the stats you get in Google Analytics, most social media analytics suck.

You can get some very basic demographic information but that’s about all. By comparison, you can link Google Analytics to your site for free to find out a wealth of information about your site visitors including demographics, their interests, how long they spend on your site, whether they’re logging on from phones or desktops, whether they’re new or returning visitors and much, much more.

Yes, it’s a little creepy when you realize how much data these guys have—but if you’re going to look at your audience’s behavior, you might as well get the full picture.

5. Your company will have more control over the data collected in your name.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few weeks, you’ll have heard about the controversy around how Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica to exploit data from potentially 87 million users. Reducing your reliance on companies like this and ensuring you have strong data protection policies in place on your own site is important in terms of protecting yourself and your customers.

6. It’s a better way to create a long-term relationship with your audience.

On a social media site, you’re constantly vying for attention amongst memes, friends’ status updates, cat pictures, news stories and advertisements. Getting your customers on to your site instead means that for a minute or two (if your content is really good) you’ll have their full attention. You can use that time to tempt them into giving you their email address—and that’s the start of a long-term relationship.

Also, email converts to sales at a significantly higher rate than social media anyway.

7. Organic reach on social channels is pitiful.

It’s increasingly difficult to get your message across to your social media audiences and get engagement without spending lots of money. Back in the day, if you posted something on your Facebook page, all your followers would see it. These days, you’re lucky if 10 percent of those who follow you see your posts. Facebook charges you to promote your page so it can get more likes, and then when you’ve got the likes you wanted, it charges you again to promote your posts so people actually see them. Most social channels operate similarly, and it makes it very difficult to get good value for your money.

8. You don’t need to be omnipresent.

The truth is you don’t need to “be everywhere”. You never did. If you’re providing valuable content to your target audience, they will keep coming back. Work hard to make your brand’s content remarkable, and then use every channel you’ve got to promote it.

Social media still has a role here, alongside email, paid ads, influencer marketing, media relations and more. Social media is a promotion tool—not the rock on which to build your business. Choose the best avenues to promote your content based on the audience and what’s on trend—but host it right there on your own site where you have full control over its future.

Katie Harrington is a communications and content consultant based in Dublin, Ireland. A version of this article originally appeared on her blog.

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