It’s becoming ever more apparent that we have to sow our own seeds, rather than rely on what’s already grown.
As cultivators of information we have to take greater control of what is ours rather than the places that belong to others.
Grow Your Own
In November I wrote an article that we have to take greater ownership of the digital spaces that we own, with particular focus on email. It is becoming ever more apparent that doors are shutting elsewhere, or you have to pay to now enter. If you’d like to have a read of that article, click here.
The past week has seen significant changes to some major players. LinkedIn announced that they will remove the Products & Services tab within Company Pages from mid April. This was a space for companies to link website info, videos and the all-important listing of products and services. I can only give my own view here, but if LinkedIn want us to pay to use Sponsored Updates this is where the future is. It’s their ball and they can do what they want.
Over on Copyblogger, one of the world’s biggest content blogs, switched off their comments feature last week. Yet again, it’s their ball and they can do what they want with it. It is the space that belongs to Copyblogger, not anyone else and as a really useful information tool for their audience they have consistently provided articles that have a purpose.
Then Google entered the frame as Big Brother and decided to penalise a large blogging network MyBlogGuest.com with the emphasis of using as a link building tactic. I have posted a handful of articles in 2013 from contributors from this network and to have say that the articles used were helpful content and not a sole aim of link stuffing. Another case of businesses having to bow down and conform at the gates of Google.
So what brings these three examples and sowing our own seeds have in common. The biggest lesson for us all is to market within our own digital spaces as though no ‘helping hand’ exists. We depend so much on others to drive our own business results, from looking for acknowledgement and relying on others to share, that we can neglect that one of the biggest opportunities that we have as businesses is to create value and aggregate an audience in the places that we have complete control over and where no-one is going to disable a feature or start to charge us for ‘entry.’
The Hubs We Build
We need to create a hub rather than searching for spaces that are already well worn. Our blogs, websites and email are the answers for the growth and acknowledgement for our brands and if we can emphasise what we stand for to others, so they feel compelled to come on board and share our point of view, then sets the foundations to grow our own land and others to consume what we produce.
Any channel that we’re currently heavily using ie. Facebook, Twitter can be turned off tomorrow. We used to feel drawn to Facebook because everyone else was, now they are looking to charge us. We can’t grow on land that doesn’t belong to us. This is emphasised brilliantly by Sonia Simone’s Digital Sharecropping article way back in the good old days of 2011, where she highlighted:
If you’re relying on Facebook or Google to bring in all of your new customers, you’re sharecropping. You’re hoping the landlord will continue to like you and support your business, but the fact is, the landlord has no idea who you are and doesn’t actually care.
Whilst we’ve all rushed to social, we’ve all become impatient in looking for the answer to help build our businesses recognition and credibility, whilst at the same time loosing a grasp on what it takes to market a product or service. We need to become a bit more thoughtful, committed and consistent to the spaces that we own. As small businesses our patches of land may not be that substantial, but if we focus on making sure what we grow is from our own dedication, hard work and ingenuity then we don’t have to depend so much on others.
The Key Ingredients To Grow Your Own
For our plots to grow we need to have a mix of:
- Light: is the content we create shared with our audience on a frequent basis or is there a particular time when our audience has the opportunity to be exposed to.
- Space: the seeds we sew (or the content we create) has the ability to be recognised on it’s own merits as opposed to sounding like everyone else or what the industry has dictated over the years.
- Sowing times: some seeds like to be planted during different times of the year, similarly to the content we create are there times during the year where we can take advantage. Maybe 2014 is going to be the year when the posted Christmas card makes resurgence and not a templated Gif?
- Fertiliser and soil needs: some plants are ok in weak sand which can also translate to the ability to create content that isn’t too time intensive, to some plants needing compost and regular fertiliser to keep them strong, meaning that for the longer content that has a greater shelf life can be translated into different forms from the blog, to print, to video.
- Feeding: Make sure they are constantly fed with both sun and water. To make sure that the spaces that you have control of becomes a rich space, needs an amount of patience, dedication, energy and commitment.
- Tend to the plot on a regular basis: If the whole process is to fast-forward with a bottle of ‘Miracle-Gro’ then makes the whole area unsustainable and one where the focus is not on drive, passion and believing in an area you stand for, but for short-term results.
If our audiences recognise that we are here to produce useful information that doesn’t have a flashing ‘SELL’ sign above it, then over time our small allotment can become a more recognised space where others want to consume what we grow and share with others. We cannot rely on others all the time; lets become a bit more self-sufficient because we won’t get any love from other spaces.
What about you – how is the plot that belongs to you shaping up? Has the database that you’ve cultivated produced some encouraging results, has the mix of using different ideas and applying to your own marketplace delivering some promising early signs. Be good to share from your side of the allotment fence.