Utilize Third Party Sites, Don’t Rely On Them Soley

Photo manipulation lost content

Photo Manipulation Contest Winner

As I continue to book new clients, and divide my time among ongoing projects and brand new ones there are sometimes topics that I want to discuss but don’t have the time to address in a full blown blog post/article. The topic of reliance on 3rd Party sites is a topic deserving of much more in depth discussion than I have time for here, but needs to be something you think about as a small business owner building a presence on the Internet.

The 3rd Party Dilema

Sites like Facebook, and sites offering functionality such as the Disqus commenting platform are the types of 3rd party sites that we use to increase our exposure. Although it’s hard to imagine Facebook disappearing overnight, that’s exactly what has happened to similar sites in the past.

Sometimes it only takes a small change in a site’s TOS (terms of service, or TOU terms of use) to make content disappear. Imagine all the pictures, discussions, and notes you’ve published on Facebook suddenly disappearing because the site is no longer there, or they suddenly violate a newly imposed Term of Use.

Legal issues happen. Technical issues happen. Would you lose that content forever if this were to happen to a 3rd party site that you perhaps rely on too heavily?

Take responsibility for the ownership of your content. You work hard to create it, so make sure you never put yourself in the position of losing track of it. I would have lost the photo manipulation shown at the top of this post due to a hard drive crash, if I hadn’t found it on the site that held the contest. Back up any content you don’t want to lose!

  • If you have sales pages on a 3rd party site, make sure to keep a copy of your HTML codes used and sales presentations. (ie: Etsy, IMVU, etc.)
  • Download photos sent directly from your phones to any 3rd party sites.
  • Quote the high quality discussions in a blog post, or “Best of” page on your site to preserve them in your ownership forever.

Utilize 3rd party sites, but don’t rely on them

Using third party sites to increase your Brand’s exposure is simply smart business these days. It’s a delicate balancing act though. When posting, we have to remember that everything we post is out there forever as a reflection of our Brand. At the same time, we must be aware that any 3rd party site is outside of our control, and may change at any time. Knowing this, it’s our responsibility to preserve the best content created through a third party site on a domain that we can control. (Not to mention hard drives and storage facilities.)

Some thoughts from a Twitter discussion I instigated with a poll:

[blackbirdpie url="http://twitter.com/#!/wwginger/status/42934572484280320"]

[blackbirdpie url="http://twitter.com/kimparsell/status/42946183727022081"]

[blackbirdpie url="http://twitter.com/#!/wwginger/status/42965517237108736"]

[blackbirdpie url="http://twitter.com/andrea_r/status/42966628668944384"]

And my thoughts from a reply I made to a blog comment this morning:

No third party site should own any of your original content exclusively, I agree. I always suggest social media participation to my clients as an enhancement to their web site to increase their Internet presence.

(Yes, even though the comment I’m replying to is off topic, and my gut tells me it was generated by a bot, I thought I’d publish it anyway, simply because I had asked my Twitter friends what they thought about the new Facebook comments box. The result was a discussion about third party reliance by web site owners, and how it’s a bad idea to ‘put all your eggs in one basket’. Comments especially, are not something you want owned and hosted by a third party.)

It is for this very reason that I’m reconsidering the use of IntenseDebate here on my own site. My trust in Automattic is the only reason it’s still here.

 

Food for thought. Please continue discussion of this topic in the comments, there’s so much to consider when trusting a 3rd party with your content, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Comments

What are you thinking?