Are Your Marketing Efforts at Risk?

by Christi on August 24, 2011

digital sharecroppingWe have talked a lot on this blog about the importance of owning the assets of your business. Too often, business owners rely too much on marketing efforts they do not own. Recently, Sonia Simone of CopyBlogger wrote an article that discusses this very subject. She brings up the term “digital sharecropping” which was coined by Nicholas Carr to describe how this phenomenon works:

One of the fundamental economic characteristics of Web 2.0 is the distribution of production into the hands of the many and the concentration of the economic rewards into the hands of the few.

So, when businesses put all of their efforts into sites like Facebook, they need to understand that Facebook effectively owns their content. So, that begs the question, what happens when you somehow violate the Facebook terms of service or they change the way they allow you to communicate with your friends and fans? As Sonia described it, “The more content we create for free, the more valuable Facebook becomes. We do the work, they reap the profit.”

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of the opportunities provided by sites like Facebook and Twitter and Google +. It does mean, however, that you need to realize that for those sites, you are a sharecropper and the landlord doesn’t know or care who you are.

Ms. Simone suggests that there are three assets (that you own) that you should be concentrating on.

  1. A well-designed website or blog populated with lots of valuable content
  2. An opt-in email list, ideally with a high-quality autoresponder
  3. A reputation for providing impeccable value

It is important to know what online assets you own. It is also important to know that the assets you think you own, such as your website, really are under your ownership. Sometimes, businesses think they own their website, only to find out that their web designer is actually the owner. I have seen it happen too many times. Web designers register your domain in their own name and they then effectively own your website. I’m not sure this is always done maliciously. I know some “web designers” who just don’t know not to do that.

Make sure you own the assets of your business and that they are the ones that you are growing. As digital sharecroppers, we may not survive if we put all our efforts into the sites we are sharecropping and the landlord fails/kicks us out/changes directions.

For those of you in the Twin Lakes area, sign up for the Website Strategy and Planning Seminar. The seminar is on Tuesday, September 27th at the Donald W. Reynolds Library in Mountain Home. Visit the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center website for registration information.




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