A big lesson for me from social media, invest heavily in your own website

Important functions and features can disappear overnight

The constant changes on social media sites where features or functions can just disappear overnight is for me a reminder that you always need your own real estate and space on the internet, your very own website as an individual.

Too much interaction on social media at the cost of own platforms

Too many of us are doing all our interaction on social media and not enough using our own websites and platforms, our own emails and our own tools. Why do we give these social media companies so much power and influence over us? At what point do our own websites and platforms feature in the mix? When social media sites make radical changes we sometimes use huge amount of history and IP. All the work and hours invested in those features goes down the drain.

Example of groups on LinkedIn

Groups on LinkedIn are a good example.  There were some truly amazing groups on LinkedIn, with great discussions, activity and value add. I invested thousands of hours in building some of my LinkedIn groups. I distributed training material to hundreds of people and had connected with several people through many groups.

If you thought groups are no longer on LinkedIn I got you! Groups are still there but they are now hidden quite difficult to find on LinkedIn for the occasional user. They are no longer in the front end. You have to look for them on the menu. You can basically say they have disappeared.

Question and Answer section

Years back on LinkedIn, there was a popular part of the website called the Question and Answer section. Here is what a friend said to me about this. ” Well, many years ago, LI did away with their Q&A section overnight. That was annoying, cos I’d participated on them quite a bit.” My friend has spent so much time contributing to the section and it just disappeared and she had no record at all of all that history.

Another example, a whole company built around LinkedIn API

There are was a time when people were building their companies about LinkedIn API. API is a feature which helps different websites, apps or software to talk to each other. Now this guy had an app that made it much easier to connect and find people than on LinkedIn. However, all the data was coming from LinkedIn. The company was growing incredibly fast and they were hiring then guess what happened? LinkedIn made huge changes to their systems and made it very difficult or impossible for other apps to source data from the platform. Within months this startup had to close!

The truth is that the startup was so good it was becoming a threat to LinkedIn itself and I think when LinkedIn realised what was happening they made huge changes. They cut down the number of apps that could connect with their website, the information they could use and reviewed their terms and conditions. The startup initially put up a fight but there closed shop when they realised it was a fight they could not win.

Don’t assume features will always be there

I always assumed that LinkedIn groups would be there. But one day groups no longer made business sense to LinkedIn and they just disappeared. If there is a feature or function that you use a lot on a website, imagine your life without it. Is there  a way to have some of the features on your website What is your plan B?

Many other examples on social media websites

I used LinkedIn groups as an example but there are many other features on various websites. Social media companies need to make money and once something is costing more than it’s giving, they are bound to can it.

What about downloading contact list on LinkedIn

Do you remember the time when you could download your entire connections list on LinkedIn, their names and email addresses and all. That was so cool right? Now it’s impossible to do that without a few tricks.

What about Facebook?
Look at the way Facebook will force you to download another app if you want to chat on your main Facebook app. It will show you that there are messages in your inbox but you cannot read them unless you install a whole new app.

Look at those critical features and functions you use so much

Take some of the features that you use so much on social media websites and see if there is a way to integrate them on your website in a way where you own the intellectual property.

Don’t forget to invest in your own tech space or website. It’s not enough to just have your own website. Your website should give you a good measure of freedom and independence. You need to be constantly looking at your website and asking yourself, what if it was all you had on the internet, would it be enough?