Google recently announced that it will be closing down 10 services that get little use. I don’t have a problem with that. Google is a company, they can do what they want. There are people, however, who rely on these services, and are about to have them swept out from under their feet. If you find yourself in that situation, or if you fear that something similar could happen to you one day, it is because you’ve allowed yourself to become some company’s bitch. Building your business on their platform is like building your house on someone else’s land: sure, it’s easier and cheaper, but you just never know when they will come by and force you to leave.
Control of social media seems to be concentrating into the hands of a small number of big players. Twitter, Facebook, Google plus one, etc.
I used to participate in a number of online message boards. But not so much any more. It’s not from a lack of interest on my part, but a lack of replies coming from everyone else as the number of active users dwindles.
Some message boards have closed down, while others have slowly faded away as the majority of users migrate towards facebook groups. I imagine convenience is a primary motivator here, as facebook represents a one-stop solution for email, texting, message-boarding, posting ideas, ranting, and sharing links. The old way involved navigating between multiple websites, each with a different layout or design to figure out and navigate. This does seem to take more mental energy. Facebook made it far easier to do all of these things, and do them all in one place.
I fear that people forget that with the increase in convenience comes a loss of control. When a page, or a group is created on one of these third party services, you are agreeing to play by their rules. They could shut down your group, or close ‘groups’ in general. The whole company could collapse, close, be sold off, and you’ve lost everything.
If I were to build a business that relies entirely on google ads, I am their bitch. All it takes is a few little changes to their rules, and I’m screwed. If my entire business is built around facebook or twitter, I’d be screwed if they were to go under or take away that feature. If YouTube was my number-one source for hits an attention, and they were to close down that popular channel I’ve build up over the years, I’d be screwed.
The safest way to do things is to host it yourself. Don’t ignore or avoid the 3rd parties, they offer some great services, just don’t let yourself rely on them as a sole provider.
My blog is powered by WordPress, so this post might seem hypocritical, but keep in mind that only my blog section is WordPress. The main website is pure hand-coded HTML. Also, keep in mind that WordPress is open source. If they were to go under, or if they chose to drop a feature, I can always get the code and change it back.
Do it yourself.
It might be less convenient, it might be less popular, but with full control comes safety.