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Why having own website is way better than just social media accounts

27 August, 2013
Instead of just expressing your creativity & opinions on Social media like FB,Twitter,G+,etc, you should do so on your own blog or website. This article explains the many benefits including greater flexibility, ownership & control of your content (even after death), you earning money from your content instead of social media companies, somewhat reduced plagiarism, and much more!
In this modern age, almost everybody with internet connection can and perhaps should create a web presence in form of a blog or website. It is relatively easy, can be done for free or very low cost and allows you to express your views, share your expertise in your subject or showcase your creative talents to a literally worldwide audience! But then you may ask, why do you need a website to do all that when even social media sites like Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter etc. allow you to do all that? Well, there are a number of strong reasons.

Transient vs Stable content accessibility

On social media sites, when you post something, it remains in visibility for a short time. After that, it vanishes down the Twitter TL, or Facebook wall/page or Google+ page or whatever it is. You would either have to scroll a lot to reach it, or in case of Tweets, it may be inaccessible even by scrolling, either if the tweet gets too old, or if you have tweeted a lot after that (You can only access up to last 3200 tweets by scrolling). If someone connects with you on a social media platform at a later date, they have no practical way of reading your content which is a few months or few years old, or to trace and enjoy your content creation journey from beginning to end as it happened.
On the other hand, your older content on your website remains easily available, through proper link hierarchy, archives or site map. Readers can reach any content you published in the past, with just a few clicks!

Your views and content don't get lost in the crowd or suppressed by the platform

On Twitter or Facebook, people tend to follow or add as friend a large number of people. Further, most of the people tend to chatter or share content/status etc too frequently. Because of this, your content may not be noticed by even interested people because of sheer avalanche of other content. And once it has passed down people's screen, they may never go back to see it, like I explained in the point before this one. To make matters worse, social media platforms may have their own way of suppressing your content even from those who have chosen to receive it, if their algorithm feels it is not so important or interesting enough. For example, it has been known for quite a while that Facebook doesn't show all updates in news feeds, and that algorithm also keeps changing or tweaking as they see fit. Here is their recent post about the same  https://www.facebook.com/facebookforbusiness/news/News-Feed-FYI-Showing-More-High-Quality-Content. I am not on Facebook a lot, but have been regular on Twitter. Even there I have observed that I don't see tweets from all people I am following, on my home timeline. In fact, sometimes even mentions from small but legitimate handles don't show on my interactions tab. I accidentally become aware of them later, if I open my original tweet, and see their reply 'sticking' to it like replies made from web twitter as well as many other Twitter clients do. Based on their own experience, people suggest that the extent of this phenomenon also varies depending on the Twitter client or app. That is perhaps true. Twitter officially said they will rank the tweets and assign a 'filter level' of 'none', 'low', 'medium' or 'high' importance to tweets and also make this filter level available to developers for use in their applications. You can read about that here:  https://dev.twitter.com/blog/introducing-new-metadata-for-tweets. So, if a Twitter application filters out your tweet, it may never even show up on timelines of people who have subscribed for your content in some way, even if they are diligently looking at each and every item that comes on the timeline. 
The best way to make yourself a little immune from such oblivion of social media overcrowding and their somewhat punitive, unpredictable and unfair content visibility/suppression is to have your own website where you publish your content! If some reader is following you through RSS or any other means, they are more likely to find your new content when they open their feed reader/email etc, even after few days. You can be sure your content won't be unfairly 'hidden away from sight' by any algorithms, though of course occasional glitches can occur in various types of syndication methods/feeds that you use. You may also have another small advantage. Content for websites has some depth and usually takes some time to create, as opposed to instant frequent updates on social media sites. So if a person subscribes to same number of twitter accounts as websites, it is more likely that they will see your feed notification instead of tweet, because of less crowding from other content sources.

Content plagiarism is reduced and is easier to call out

On most social network sites, people heavily copy content from each other on the same social network as well as across the networks, without giving any credit to the original creator. In fact after the deluge of copied content, it becomes impossible to know who was the original creator. Further, with the very transient nature of content visibility and search results of social networks, after few days it can be impossible to see who is copying your content and request them to not do it. Even if you find out who it is, it becomes almost impossible to show the content was yours, because your own older updates are hard to access.
On the other hand, website content gets comparatively less copied, for many reasons.
1) On social network, everybody who reads you has their own account to copy to. Not as many readers have own websites to copy to. 2) Website content has depth, variety, its special style, structure, etc. So it may need some extra effort to adapt and copy to another website, or social networking platform. On the other hand it is trivial for people to copy your content on social media site to their own account, because it is in the same format as needed. Most people are just casual copiers and not malicious people copying for specific gain to them or harm to you. So they may not bother to copy if it is not very simple and straightforward.to do. 3) If someone copies your Twitter or Facebook content, nothing prevents them from reaping the 'rewards' such as retweets, favourites, likes, shares, etc. But if someone copies your webpage, that will create 'duplicate content' on the web. Search engines don't like duplicate content and give it lower ranking in SERP (search engine result page). So there is some disincentive. 4) Both your original content and the copier's content are usually quickly accessible through search engines. So finding violators is easier than social media sites and proving that the content is originally yours becomes relatively easier because search engines also can show the dates the pages were created or indexed (I am not sure which of these two dates the search engine results show)

Your content is not trapped with the platform/provider

Twitter allows you to download your tweets, but you cannot simply upload it back. Google Plus, and Facebook also have download features for your content. As far as I am aware there isn't a way to upload it all back. Even if they have provided such a feature I am not aware of, you would be limited to uploading back to same platform, to same (or maybe another) account. On the other hand, your website is your own. Set it up at one domain, set it up with one hosting provider, change it to whichever hosting suits you later, or even move to another domain if you like (which may have some disadvantages in terms of SEO)

You too earn from your content,  not just some tech company

Why do so many companies offer you free content creation and sharing platforms? Well, because they monetize your presence, your info and your content in some way or another. Further your presence and engaging content draws in others who are your friends, or fans or become so and the effect feeds and grows on itself, growing the monetization. Facebook shows you ads, Twitter has promoted tweets, trends, handles and so on. Google shows you ads on various sites/services it provides. As long as you use an environment entirely controlled by a company, you help them earn money but you don't get anything material in return for your time, creativity etc. When you put the same content on your own website, you can monetize it in various ways, such as ads, affiliate links, and more. Why make memes for Facebook? Make them on your site! You can share link to the same Facebook friends, but instead of just Facebook making ad money from their engagement, engage them on your own site and get paid by advertisers!  If you use Flickr for photo storage and sharing, you don't pay anything, but then you have to see their advertisements, which make them money. While that is ok, why not show the same pics on a website and make some money on your own? You could even use Flickr or Picasa or such free service itself to host pics, and just embed them in your website! What is more, the money you make with this could help you buy paid Flickr account with no ads and better features, or Picasa storage space beyond the free 1GB! This is just one idea. The way you can leverage your creativity and free services to run your own money making website is endless! 

Your estate/relatives/friends get better control over your content after your death, if you want

Social media platforms or third party services offer you very limited control over what happens to your account and content after you are gone. Broadly, they fall under three categories. 1) You can request account to be deleted upon inactivity or your estate can make the request after your death. 2) Your account can go in some kind of mummified state where it can have no further activity, and limited public view is available. 3) You may nominate a person to get your account's data, either through some technical means provided by the platform or by getting court orders. e.g: Getting Twitter account of the deceased deleted: https://support.twitter.com/articles/87894-contacting-twitter-about-a-deceased-user
Getting Facebook account of the deceased deleted or memorialized: http://www.facebook.com/help/www/359046244166395?rdrhc.
Getting data from Facebook account of the deceased: http://www.facebook.com/help/www/123355624495297
Planning to make your Google account data available to person or deleting it after your death https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/3036546?hl=en&ref_topic=3075532
Getting data from Google account of deceased  https://support.google.com/mail/answer/14300?hl=en
However none of these companies allow actual or complete access of the account to your estate/family. They are not allowed to continue to run it after you, even if you wish so. This may not be what you want if yours was a public account that created content and has fans/friends/followers that would like to continue receiving updates as a form of nostalgia, additional commentary about you from people who knew you, etc. When you own a website, as long as your domain (the main url of your website, which you purchased for your site) hasn't expired, it can be passed in your will to your rightful heir and they may use the same to either just keep your site available to public as it is, or make changes as appropriate to serve the following that your site has built over time. Even if you miss to include legal instructions regarding your domain in the will, ideally it belongs to your family/estate/heir. Here is an example thread (do read comments as well to get an idea of how things went when domain owner died without leaving legal instructions about the domains http://www.thedomains.com/2013/02/22/after-75k-in-lost-domains-igal-in-death-teaches-us-we-need-an-after-life-plan/)
Thus you can see, having an internet presence in form of your own website gives you a lot of benefits over having just social media accounts. However it is true that social media platforms have a huge userbase and so may give you a better audience quick. To get the best of both worlds have both website and social media accounts. But create your content on your website, and share it/promote it to the larger audience. Don't let just social media company benefit from your content. Benefit from it, and make social media work for your benefit!
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