Ordering Your Online Space

With the recent announcement that Posterous will be closing at the end of April, it’s a great time to think long-term about your online presence.

Posterous is home to around 15 million blogs and 63 million pages which will all cease to exist after the end of April. Sure, they can be backed up & moved to a new home before then, but all the previously search engine indexed page addresses that existed on Posterous will be gone for good.

It’s a sobering reminder that services like Posterous, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and the many other social networks & services which store your data on their servers can essentially do anything with whatever you put on them.

Your Own Space

The advice I give to anyone who wants to secure their online presence long-term is simple:

1. Get a domain name (think about one you are going to use forever)
2. Rent some server space at your local web hosting provider
3. Install a proven Open Source platform (eg WordPress)
4. Use this self-hosted website as your long-term online space where you post/display/announce everything you care about
5. Use other social media sites to drive traffic to it

This simple strategy means that your considerable efforts to build up a meaningful online presence over time can be focussed onto one place you know will always be there & you where are in control of your own data.

It also means that in order for someone to find out what you’re about and what you’re up to right now, they only have to go to one place.

Sure, use a Facebook page and Twitter to engage people, build relationships and get social but remember, not everyone is on Facebook and not everyone on Facebook goes there everyday so if you are relying on it to get your mission critical messages and announcements out, you may be missing a large part of your potential market or 'clan'.

The same can be said for any social network.

Content is King

Search engines love good content because people love good content. So it makes sense to have your good content focussed in one place. And of course, you can display it in as many places as you like, and definitely link to it from all of your social tools – this is an important SEO strategy as well.

This means your SEO efforts are building up credit in the one place, better SEO means more people looking for your product or service will find you.

Proof of Life

Who are you and what are you doing? Are you still there?

Assume no-one knows anything about you, your business or what you’re up to. Now go to your website and see how well those questions are answered.

Like it or not, the internet has brought new expectations about what information people would like to have. The more current the news on your site and the more transparent you are about what’s happening, the more likely it is that people will be willing to trust you and buy your product or become part of your tribe.

You’ve got a story to tell, if it’s accessible on your site, built up over years of posting and sharing, it’s proof you’re alive and human, and sometimes that’s all people want to know.

Now You are the Master

Mastering a content management system on your own server space is harder than using someone else’s service but being in control of your own stuff not only feels good now, it pays off in the long term.

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