How to Create Your Own Killer Platform (Without Relying on Twitter)

Become your own platform
Susan NYC

How much time do you spend on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites? It’s estimated that Robert Scoble spent over 2,555 hours on Friendfeed and Twitter in 2008, which is way more than a normal full-time job (2,000 hours).

Robert Scoble
Photo by Thomas Hawk

Robert has essentially worked a full-time job with overtime for these two companies, pro bono. And don’t kid yourself into thinking that he’s the only one either.

But here’s the kicker: people like Mr. Scoble spend a lot unhealthy amounts of time building up profiles on sites they don’t even own.

Those of us who have spent enough time around the web realize that sites and services come and go, and to trust that one will be around forever is absolutely bonkers. Friendfeed, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter… who knows what these sites will be in the next 10 years.

Sure, one could argue that Robert’s involvement on these 3rd party sites ultimately improves his personal brand. But if Friendfeed goes under, so does all those hours Robert spent on the site. Poof. Heck, Friendfeed was purchased by Facebook in August. Who knows what the future of Friendfeed?

Scoble questions his time on social networking sites

The best way to safeguard yourself into losing everything you’ve worked so hard to create is to become your own platform, and not rely solely on a third-party to publish your content online.

Creating Your Platform

If you’re going to be a “creator” on the web, you can’t put your faith in a single platform like Facebook or Twitter. You’ve got to create your own.

I’m a huge fan of Twitter, and it’s an incredible tool to connect and gain an audience. When you put all your content’s eggs in one basket, you’re putting yourself at a huge risk. While I don’t think sites like Twitter or Facebook are going to go away any time soon (knock on wood), we don’t know how this Web thing will turn out. You may find in 20 years that all those hours you spent creating content on Tumblr or Twitter might just be lost for good.

But more importantly, when you’re trying to brand yourself, it doesn’t help when people only see you as a Twitter user first. You want YOUR brand first then the platform, not the other way around.

Be Everywhere, But Don’t Live Everywhere

Photo by Evil Erin

I can already hear the next question asked: “So how do you develop a following and gain attention without leveraging popular platforms like Twitter and Facebook?”

You’re right: you have to utilize them. You just can’t rely on them. It’s a fine line to walk.

Sure, you still need to be on other platforms. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, and a few other places. But I don’t live there. Those places only help my personal brand. They’re only tiny pieces of my digital identity. Sure, it would stink if one of those places shut down one day, but I’d still have my own personal platform.

But where I spend most of my time is working on things that are 100% my own. If Twitter is ever bought by Nazis, I’ll still have LifeDev. Or Web Jackalope.

Note: I have no idea if Nazis are interested in a Twitter purchase, but from what I hear everyone is giving Twitter offers these days. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Nazis haven’t put in a bid too. But I think we can all agree that if Twitter was run by Nazis, we would all spend a LOT less time there. And we’d really regret all the previous time we spent sending tweets.

It’s Not Just Me

Look at the really successful content producers on the web who have Twitter and Facebook accounts. Sure, they tweet often and keep their followers engaged. But you can bet your biscuits they spend twice as much time creating content for their blogs and own sites.

Here are a couple easy tips to creating a personal brand that’s invincible to the ever-changing winds of the Internet landscape.

Make it about YOU. If you’re going to use 3rd party services like Twitter, try and make the focal point of the pages you by adding a unique design that mirrors your brand in some way. I tried to do this as much as possible with both my personal Twitter profile and Web Jackalope’s Twitter profile with designs that were similar to the original sites.

Keep the balance. Be conscious of how much time you’re spending on third-party sites as opposed to creating your own content. Try making a 1:1 rule, where for every 20 minutes you spend on Twitter/Facebook, etc., you’re spending 20 minutes writing content on your own site.

Point back to you. Virtually all social media and social news sites allow you to create profiles where you can point to your site. Make sure all the 3rd-party services point to your own domain.

Own, Don’t Rent

own don't rent your online brand
Photo by turkeychik

When it comes to online presence, you want to be an owner, not a renter of your brand. Just like in the housing industry, there are plenty of reasons that renting is appealing. If you’re an online renter, you don’t have to worry about servers, design, or many other things. But at the end of the day, you still don’t own anything.

All the resources that you put into building profiles at social networking sites and gaining followers show for nothing if the platform crashes.

Be your own platform, and reap the benefits.

Leave a Comment

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • esperanza November 9, 2010, 7:20 pm

    hi thanks for this info. Can anyone recommend the cheapest option for having a domain name of my own? ive tried google it up and theres too many want to charge too much. im on a small budget and prefer to pay yearly not minthly, and a cheap price. ta

  • ralph November 2, 2009, 9:16 am

    I agree with you on why people should not put all of their eggs in one social media. Having your own site or blog is the best way to go.

  • ralph November 2, 2009, 4:16 am

    I agree with you on why people should not put all of their eggs in one social media. Having your own site or blog is the best way to go.

  • alan jones October 21, 2009, 10:25 pm

    I agree it's necessary to make sure you don't spend too much time on social media.

    But it's also important to remember that we don't have one way relationships Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, et al. It seems like perhaps you haven't accounted for the value of that in your model.

    If we're using them right, those communities give us back all we donate and more, in the form of entertainment, richer relationships, advice and recommendations.

    If you enter any of these communities with “building an online brand” as your sole goal, you will gradually have to invest more and more time in keeping your relationships alive and replacing lost relationships.

    That's because people will only keep investing in their relationship with you if you are real, and only if you are prepared to give in equal proportion to what you get.

    • Glen Stansberry October 22, 2009, 4:02 pm

      No, those are some excellent points. I agree, I get *TONS* of value out of Twitter and Facebook. It's not all about building an online brand. They can enrich your life too.

      I'm just not a fan of the eggs-in-one-basket approach. Just like financial advice, diversify your portfolio :)

      • alan jones October 22, 2009, 10:59 pm

        Definitely! Diversification is the best way to go in almost everything. Diversify, evolve, repeat.

      • Champ April 29, 2017, 6:26 pm

        åš1é3¼èªªä¾†,世界上本來就沒有「正確」的東西。所謂&#12 00;正確」的數學充其量也只是比較主流的公設系統。如果使用的系統是16怲位,é‚£2*9=12才是對的;如果使用的公設是1+1=5,é‚£1+5=3才是對的。真要tricky的話,國文老師的確不應該說「狠厲害」是錯的,應該說:大多數人、一般溝通都是使用「很厲害」,不使用「狠厲害」。不過比照辦理,數學老師也不能說2*9=12是錯的,而必須說在10進位、使用0123456789數字系統、*代表多次累加、……的主流公設下,2*9=12是錯的。那麼一個學生在考卷上寫2*9=12,到底該不該給分?一個學生回答「樹上10隻鳥,開槍打死´éš»,還剩幾隻?」時回答「0éš»」,該不該給分?如果該學生認為他用「ç‹ 」的確想傳達什麼特殊含意,或者能說明「ç‹ 」的確可與「很」通用(證明他並非不懂或手誤),他大可事後向老師解釋,我相信理性的國文老師都會接受的:)

  • Annabel Candy October 21, 2009, 10:10 pm

    Great points. I'd recommend to people who are thinking about setting up a blog or website not to bother dabbling by hosting it with wordpress or typepad as an experiment to see how it goes.

    If you're going to try something online you need to show you're serious by having your own domain name. I started out with wordpress then when I changed to my own domain name I wasted a lot of time and lost many followers because of it.

    Twitter's great for tweeting but the rest is up to you!