The Social Media Status Quo is Broken
Most people and businesses maintain several social media profiles, flitting from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to LinkedIn (and beyond) to keep up with all our different circles of people. We use all different smartphone apps because each little tool does one thing better than the others. As a result, we scatter our writing, photos, videos, links, and files between all these various free services because each one solves one little problem, but we end up in the middle of one huge mess. Our content and our friends are scattered all across several different services, and we become dependent on each app to connect with our people.
Because of this, your creative works— your witty status updates, your fun snapshots, your favorite links, your videos— they’re all being used to enrich corporations while making it harder for you to control or organize your data, much less to develop (and make money from) your own social connections. This schizophrenic publishing also forces you to jump from app to app to post updates where all your followers can see what you want to share, leading to “social media fatigue”. Finally, if a site closes down or changes its terms of service, you might lose access to those files (and those followers) altogether.
In subtle ways, your online choices can lead to real consequences for your overall economic health and privacy, so you need to make choices that support your personal empowerment, privacy, and economic well being. I discuss this idea theoretically in “Own the Means of Production”: What Karl Marx Knew about Opportunity in the Digital Economy, but here I want to show you a specific strategy for making your social media posts work for you.
POSSE: Publish On Your Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere
The big idea behind POSSE is that, instead of the crazy approach above, you post all your online updates first to your own blog, and then share them out to the social sites where your friends can see them. It’s a simple idea, but let’s unpack why to do it, then how.
Why Should I POSSE?
Publishing all of your media on your own site has several advantages. Let’s talk about a few:
If you’ve ever tried to remember whether that great photo was in Facebook or Instagram or Flickr, you’ll love having one place to search for everything you’ve ever shared online. Your blog has great tools for storing and organizing all your photos and writing so you can search in one place for everything you’ve shared online. All your photos get stored in your blog’s internal storage, then shared out to the networks where other people can see them.
It’s also more convenient when you’re posting– you can create a post once on your blog and have it automatically post out to all your other networks using plugins like SNAP or JetPack.
One day, Facebook or Instagram may become as uncool as MySpace (maybe it’s already getting there). If you’ve entrusted several years of photos, likes, and witty comments to a dying platform (or worse, built your business’ online strategy around it!) then you’re in for a bumpy ride. When you host your own photos, status updates, and other content on your own blog, you can easily share that content out to any new social sharing platform that comes along.
Similarly, the social connections that you form with friends and followers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter aren’t really yours, and they make it hard to export a list of your followers. (BTW, here’s how).
In the long run, it’s best to keep your media and your contacts in a system that you control, and then share it out with whichever service is cool today.
Build a Brand– Yours!
Owning your own domain name only costs around ten bucks per year (I use and recommend Hover), but it is a great way of building and controlling your persona online. Your small business could have its own “.com” and a great landing page to show off what you do. Your best smartphone snapshots could become a personal photo portfolio, or those recipes you write could make you the next hot food blogger. It’s increasingly common for people to gain fame and (sometimes) riches just by having a grumpy-looking cat, a drinking show with a cooking problem, or a fitness regimen based on prancing. When all your best work is at an easy-to-remember online identity, it makes it easier for people to associate you with your creations.
I have started calling my blog “my golden goose” because it has led to so many valuable opportunities for me. Having my ideas publicly visible at TedCurran.net has helped me get my last two jobs, several speaking and consulting gigs, and the offer of a book publishing deal! More than this, it has helped me establish some credibility as a thought leader in my field.
Expand Your Reach
When it’s not such a hassle to post your content to different social networks, you may find it easier to syndicate your links to services you don’t spend much time on. This can help you connect with potential readers on niche social networks where you’re a bigger fish in a smaller pond.
Google search results reward websites that have lots of good incoming links from other quality sites across the web, and your Google search rankings improve the longer you’re getting good link traffic. Owning your own domain, consistently posting great content that people want to see, and sharing widely is a great way to make sure you’re at the top of Google results.
How should I POSSE?
As I mentioned above, wordpress plugins like SNAP or JetPack can automatically post out to your social networks right when you publish your blog. Alternately, you can use a tool like IfThisThenThat to sense new posts to your blog and then automatically share them with your social networks (here’s how). Even a great “social media dashboard” like HootSuite can make it easy to share your posts on multiple social networks at once.
These are only some suggestions– in truth there are limitless ways to POSSE, and you may want to experiment with social tools that make your workflow easier. The important thing is that you always focus on keeping your content on platforms you control, and then sharing out to whatever today’s popular online meeting places happen to be. How you do that is entirely up to you!
To learn more about POSSE (and the people who created it), check out the IndieWeb movement’s POSSE page.
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