I don’t hear it as often these days as I used to, but I know there are still people who think social media blogging is full-fledged blogging. That’s a problem.
Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or any of the other platforms that are out there, should you consider social media blogging the same as blogging on your own site?
No. You shouldn’t.
The reason is important because if you rely on social media platforms to host all of your content, you need to always be aware of the fact that your content is vulnerable.
This blog began back in 2004 on a blogging platform run by America Online. While all of us in “AOL J-Land” certainly owned our content, we weren’t in control of it.
That realization became crystal clear in August of that year. One of our fellow bloggers had a journal consisting of hand-drawn comic strips. The drawing itself was quite simple; the jokes conveyed were the point. The “people” were drawn as simple shapes: circles for their heads, squares for male bodies and triangles for female bodies.
There wasn’t much room, it would seem, for content to be offensive, but someone reported the blogger’s content. AOL responded to the complaint, the blogger said, by deleting his entire graphics library, which meant all of his content, which could have been hundreds of individual files, were gone just because of a complaint about one of them.
Relying on social media blogging means you aren’t in control.
AOL’s blogging platform is long gone. But there are people who do all of what they consider blogging on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Some like to refer to it as “microblogging,” particularly when Twitter used to have that 140-character limit per tweet.
But Facebook, Twitter and all those other social media sites, just like AOL’s J-Land platform, make their own rules. And if you violate them, even if you don’t knowingly violate them, they could just as easily punish you by taking down your content. (And if you don’t have a copy of it somewhere, it’s gone.)
Back in 2004, we petitioned AOL’s editors to be a little more reasonable, arguing that if someone reported content as offensive, editors should block that specific piece of content and notify the blogger to give them the chance to make an edit or delete it on their own. There was no reason (and no excuse) for deleting all of the graphics on someone’s site over a single complaint about a single graphic.
But then that’s the point.
If you don’t own your site, then you are, at best, relying on someone else with their finger on the “delete button” to never press it. They probably won’t.
But that button has been pressed before. And it can be again.
There’s nothing wrong with posting to social media. But if you’re trying to be a blogger, you need, sooner or later, to have a dedicated site that you control so that you can protect your content. When I left AOL, shortly before it shuttered its blogging platform, I switched to Blogger; but by then, I was already contemplating my own site. The comic strip incident made that strong of an impression. I knew I didn’t want to rely on a different platform to decide whether my content remained or vanished.
If you don’t have you’re own site, you’re taking a gamble that it’ll always be there. And if it were to disappear, there’s an excellent chance you wouldn’t find that out until it was already gone.
Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.