Tags: bodhidharma, Facebook, friendster, Initial public offering, linkedin, MySpace, utterz, vbulletin
What you’re learning by “renting” your pages on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress.com, LinkedIn, and Google+, is portable, which is to say that everything you’re doing, experiencing, and learning will improve your ability to engage and market online into the future. So, that’s good. The downside is that all good things come to an end. The recent Facebook IPO backfire reminds us that even Facebook, with its 800 million active users worldwide, can still fall, as did MySpace and Friendster before it.
It is essential that you keep your eyes up and forward, always mindful that there will not always be Facebook and that there will be another Facebook coming down the line before long. Be sure you don’t become so tethered to your Facebook page that you lose sight of the bigger picture of social media–your message, rather than your medium. Always remember “the essence of the Way is detachment,” according to Bodhidharma.
Invest more in your ability to engage your visitors, draw online attention, to encourage social sharing, and to tell compelling stories than in your single-minded expertise in Facebook Apps, vBulletin, or whatever. It is less about the inhuman technology than it is about the culture of the Internet and how to best discover, connect, and relate to online tribes where they live and how they want to be engaged.
And, on that note, while you’re at it, it is also essential to make sure you convert or transition your friends, followers, and likers away from these proprietary platforms before they are abandoned, rolled into something else, made redundant, closed (I still miss Utterly née Utterz to this day, RIP), or simply become unfashionable and uncool.
Starting to own, rather than rent, your friends is generally easy and straightforward, but requires possibly embarrassing yourself by actually asking directly or finding ways to convince them to sign your guest book in one way or another. It could be through signing up for an email list, entering a contest, buying a product, submitting a birthday and an email for a birthday wish, gift, or coupon–but be sure to do it early and often so that you don’t lose everything when the tide turns and all the water recedes.
It is less stressful to rent your followers because Facebook and its ilk have done all the work and you never have to put yourself out there where you might get turned down. But when Facebook is no longer the flavor of the month, you’ll wish you had asked.