Here at Blogercise we have been looking at 29 debates bloggers have about blogging. In this article we look at the pros and cons of building up your own website versus building up web estate on social networking sites.
What is Social Network web estate?
To understand this debate we are first going to have a look at the ins and outs of social networking sites – what exactly do we mean by building up an interest in these networks?
Sites such as Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and MySpace allow us to build our own pages and promote them just like our own website. There are several advantages to doing this:
- It is easy to do. These sites have very sophisticated mechanisms for allowing you to create, maintain and design the pages without requiring any technical knowledge from you.
- Built in marketing. Once your page has been created there will normally be in built ways to promote amongst other users. You share the page amongst your connected friends who then share it with theirs. Get things right and sooner or later you have a large following
- Managed Servers. You never have to worry about supporting a large influx of hits to your page or worry about bandwidth usage. All this is covered by the hosting website.
- Ease of access. Fans and friends will be familiar with these sites and will most likely already have a login. They will be able to join up and start contributing with little effort.
What Kind of Social Media Pages Can I set up?
There are now all kinds of social networking sites out there which cover every topic under the sun. Here are a couple of the major players for you to investigate:
- MySpace: One of the first social networking sites to really make it big. MySpace has always sold itself around sharing music with users. So if you are part of an upcomming new band and want to get your tunes out there then this is the ideal choice.
- Facebook: Now thought to be the most visited destination on the Internet, yes, even more so than Google! Facebook allows us to create Pages and Groups where we can share links, photos etc with our friends and their friends. With so many users online your page can rapidly gain a following.
- Twitter: The micro blogging site has been one of the big new hits of recent years. With some Internet gurus harbouring millions of followers it is clear that an active account can have significant reach.
- Hubpages: This site allows us to create single pages around a specific topic ie a hub. Hubpages has a strong social media side to it with a lot of cross linking, commenting and participation from other hubbers. This site also allows you to take a cut of the advertising revenue derived from your page.
Should I host my Own Website?
Blogercise is all about creating and hosting your own blog so we are only ever going to provide one answer to this question! Yes, it is worth the extra time and expense to host your own site.
Hosting your own site provides you with a level of control that you just don’t get through the large social media networks.
- You are able to change the layout of your site in any way you like, any time you like
- You can choose the technology the site runs on, allowing you to embrace new emerging platforms
- If you are running the show, you have full control over advertising, you can chose who you want to advertise and get to keep 100% of the income
- Stability – unfortunately there have been cases of the big networks shutting down user pages with no right of appeal. If you don’t own the content then you could lose everything on the whim of the social networking website. For no other reason this would stop me investing my time in a 3rd party site.
You can Host a Site and use Social Media
But why not leverage both? There is nothing to stop you using social media sites to funnel traffic into your main website. Set up the pages with the goal of getting people over to your own site and get them to subscribe so that they will come back again.
Leverage Social Networks to Drive Traffic to your Own Sites!
A presence on these sites will help you to gain traffic but perhaps more importantly they can also help you to build your brand. The more potential contact points you have with your readers the better. Once they come across you 2 or 3 times they might actually remember your site for future visits, or at least be more likely to respond to further mentions of your site.
With Facebook gaining more traffic than Google it would be unwise to ignore the major social networking sites. Remember that your goal is to leverage them to drive traffic to your sites where you can convert them to loyal readers.
Note that there are probably niche social networking sites out there which will be able to provide highly targeted and relevant traffic to you, by becoming a well known contributor of a niche community you can start to attract people over to your own site.