Social media content control, as well as curation, can be a difficult process. Once we have comfortably programmed our favorite phone application to remember our screen names and passwords, we tend to forget that we are providing content in a means similar to sharecropping. Now, for Black African Americans familiar with US sharecropping, this metaphor might seem a bit of a stretch. Like with most things US, economic, and Black, the story is much more hostile, violent, and inhumane than the story outside of the United States. In the same way that slavery in Brazil or England tends to read much less brutal than in the United States, so does the practice of sharecropping tend to read much more fair in other places.
To keep things neat and tidy here, the essence of the analogy of Twitter user to Twitter as tenant farmer to landlord, is producer/worker to owner. As of the date of this writing, the Owl’s Asylum account on Twitter is suspended. That means, I do not have the ability to delete, republish, or respond to any of the one hundred thousand plus pieces of content I have provided Twitter the company with. I do not have access to the one-hundred and twenty shy of six thousand followers I have accumulated over the past four or so years. I have no control over any of the writings stored on the servers that house the content of Twitter. As a result of this relationship, Twitter severing ties with Asylum has lost me half to one-third of my organic traffic to Asylum. Those are not good numbers. But, I blame Owl for this.
I do not blame myself for Twitter suspending my account. If I had a guest post on Asylum that generated five thousand or more users to interact with it daily, like say, this post, and I was discomforted by the writer of that post, I would not pull the post. But, I am Owl, not the owners and developers of Twitter, and they have their own rules to abide by. My point of accountability lies in developing a stronger content model on the apparatus of someone else, than on my own.
I have worked incessantly to establish the brand Owl’s Asylum, Owl, and Asylum under the same principles of “poor righteous teacher” that I live by. In being one that is capable of forging radical ideas and developing ingenious tactics to deploy said ideas, I am upset that I have spent so much time in one channel that I do not own. As the person that developed Owl’s Asylum, the only space online for Black people to examine media, entertainment, culture, and Black African American history from the perspective of someone that has seen prison, homelessness, and university, I am upset with myself. As the person that developed Owl’s Asylum, a space for thinking Black people to gain insights into the messages being communicated to them so they can better think for themselves as opposed to allowing others to think for them, yes, damn it, I am extremely salty with Owl.
I write for the Thinking Person. People who read Owl’s Asylum are people that like to ask questions and do not like when their emotional drawstrings are pulled. This especially when those emotional drawstrings are also doubling as their purse strings. When most online content providers were “dumbing down” their content, I was looking for a bigger thesaurus, a more unabridged dictionary, and more abstractions to apply to the everyday struggle. I should have known better, as stated here, I am a “Digital Hustler”, and that implies something I hate admitting I overlooked. Social media is a great opportunity to meet new people, but unless you are paying the server fees, I cannot advise you providing content on these sites as if you are.
According to eMarketer predictions, Twitter will reach an ad revenue generated evaluation of one billion dollars by the year 2014. That is ad revenues generated primarily(53%) through mobile devices. Let me ask a series of questions here:
How many people do you know logging into Twitter to read ads, “promoted content”?
Of those that you know that definitely do not log on to Twitter dot com to read “promoted content”, how many log on to read the content provided by others?
Of that group of people that log on to read the content provided by others, how many of the people they log on to read are getting any percentage points of revenue directly from Twitter the corporation?
Now, that is sharecropping the United States of America way. Twitter was not even willing to provide Owl and his Asylum a reason as to why the account was suspended. I had to search engine my way to an understanding of why my followers were asking about my whereabouts. I came across this piece on the topic, and this article, then this one, and this one, and then this one. After reviewing the consistencies across a few other channels, I still do not know why Twitter suspended my account. Nor do I feel compelled to fight to have access to provide a company with free content that they are receiving a projected one billion dollars in ad revenues from. Like the Digital Hustler, I am, I am willing to chalk this lack of social media content control to the game, and keep moving.
A few months back I was reading an article posted by Sonia Simone. The article was posted on highly recognized CopyBlogger dot com. The title of the article is “The Most Dangerous Threat to Your Online Marketing Efforts”, and she discusses the concept of “digital sharecropping” and the lack of social media content control, in a slightly different tone than I am(I mean, come, come, now…who in all of the interwebs writes anything with the same tone or perspective as Owl?), but providing much of the same essence. She opens the composition of caution with this story I am reproducing here:
We have a great bookstore in my town — the kind of place you picture in your mind when you think of a great independent bookshop.
It’s perfect for browsing, with lots of comfy chairs to relax in. The books are displayed enticingly. There’s a little coffee shop so you can relax with an espresso. They get your favorite writers to come in for readings, so there’s always a sense of event and excitement.
They do everything right, and they have always had plenty of customers.
But they still closed their doors last year.
No, not for the reasons you might think. It wasn’t Amazon that killed them, or the proliferation of free content on the web, or the crappy economy.
They closed the store because they were leasing their big, comfortable building … and when that lease ran out, their landlord tripled the rent.
Literally overnight, their business model quit working. Revenues simply wouldn’t exceed costs. A decision made by another party, one they had no control over, took a wonderful business and destroyed it.
And that’s precisely what you risk every day you make your business completely dependent on another company.
It might be Facebook. It might be eBay. It might be Google.
The analogy here is precise. Simone also provides tactics and strategies that I have implemented over the years, so, in closing I will add my own “also do” list here:
1:: Along with owning your own domain name and paying for your own hosting, continue to add the link to your site to all digital exchanges and content. You should be typing- or having automated- the words “Read more here…” until you earl.
2:: With an increased linking of your content, also back up all of your social media exchanges that might work as stand-alone content on your site, or just writings you wish to keep. For Asylum, I use ThinkUp and it plugs right into your online database, giving you absolute control over what is stored and when.
3:: The last tactic I am going to leave here is create a ratio that demands you to have more content on your own site than on any other. It is not wise to have more images of your product or service on Pinterest or Instagram than you have on your purchased domain, and regularly billed site. You are paying a recurring bill, act like it.