Should I choose Facebook or a blog for my online business?

fighting over moneyWould you want to build a business on someone else’s property?

Social Media is all about User Generated Content. Social Media platforms such as Facebook encourage you to share your content and interact with others in groups, on pages and on status updates. It can be as simple as a like, or as much as a video uploaded and shared.

Blogs are social media sites too. But before I expand on that, let’s go off on a tangent :)

Imagine you have a home, a rental home. You have a nice, congenial landlord and although your home is different and not entirely to your liking, the rent is low and all your family and friends are nearby. You decide to redecorate your rental home and you replace the curtains, the wallpaper and the carpets. And it looks terrific and it adds value to the property. You feel much happier and content, and invite all your neighbours to take a look. But your landlord is not happy, sure he said you could redecorate but he doesn’t like the colour scheme, and he tells you to take it down. And you take it down, after all the rent is cheap and he’s usually so congenial…

Let’s imagine a different scenario. You own a house, you pay your mortgage to the bank. You redecorate and the house looks good. The bank is pleased, it adds value to the property and when you sell it, they’ll get their mortgage repaid and you’ll have some cash over.

A rental home is Facebook and a mortgaged home is your blog.

You can pretty much do anything you like on your blog, it’s your online property after all. But you cannot do *anything* with Facebook. Facebook has different rules, and although you create the content and the conversation, you are not the boss. At any point Facebook can change the rules, and they do.

Your header on your blog can have anything you want on it. Sure, Google might not like the advertising in it, but Google isn’t the only search engine out there (although it may feel like it at times). Facebook doesn’t want you advertising on your Fan Page’s cover image, it wants beautiful images but no call to actions like “Like this page”. And if you don’t do as requested you can have your cover image taken down.

Yes, there may be almost a billion users on Facebook, but you need to own your own online home.

Sure, build an audience on Facebook or any other social media platform but make sure you have your own online home in case you get into trouble or inadvertently break one of the rules. You can share your blog almost anywhere, including Facebook Fan Pages, and of course the next social media shiny place. It’s flexible and adaptable, and whilst you may not have a billion users, you’ll still be found long after Facebook is forgotten.

If you’d like me to set up a blog for you, scroll up to the contact button at the top of the page and get in touch, we have something for every budget.

Sarah

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Sarah Arrow

Blogging an issue for you? Social media not quite working how it should be?That's okay I understand. I started blogging back in 2006 and grew into a kick-ass blog coach as well as creator of Birds on the Blog (listed 3 times by Forbes as a top 100 website for women), I'm frequently listed as both a top content marketing expert and as an influential marketer.
You want your blog to make a difference, so subscribe hereand stay in touch, my updates will help you achieve content marketing success.
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39 Comments

  1. Wow, very nice analysis. I hadn’t thought about facebook vs blog as rental vs mortgage. Very helpful. Thank you very much.

    Reply
    • Glad you like the comparison Gary :)
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      Reply
  2. Sarah,
    first welcome back to our group… second, THANK you so much for yoru contribution for me to understand so much that is going on in my life right now (internet marketing and coaching life that is:-) When I read the FB vs Blog as rental vs mirtgage, I susre opened my eys since I did go through both and for a long time… so you truly got my interest and since I am very experienced in mortgate payments and rentals… well, this was great analogy to be aware and for sure will may use along teh way.
    Thanks again.
    nickc

    Reply
    • Thank you for the welcome Nick, it’s good to be back.
      I’m glad you like the analogy :) and it helps you in some way with your internet marketing and coaching.

      Reply
  3. Hello Sarah,

    Sadie here in France :)

    I’m in agreement with you even though I know several local business owners who are getting great results just using a Facebook business page, a Google+Local account and having reviews on both Google +Local and Yelp along with having their businesses mentioned on directory sites relevant to their industry or focus.

    For me it’s all about retaining control. Facebook could be gone in a flash tomorrow and we have no control over that… Highly unlikely but you know where I’m coming from I’m sure!

    Reply
    • Welcome Sadie, like you I like to be in control. As you rightly mention, these sites could be gone in a flash, and where would our businesses be then?
      Thank you for stopping by and commenting :)

      Reply
  4. Relying on social networks alone will only go so far. Creating a site or blog allows you to control your content and give others the opportunity to see what you have when you share the link to an article. I have had people say that they only need Twitter for their business, but their competitor in the same town is getting a lot more business because they created a site and blog that added to that business.

    Reply
    • I have heard the same. I was speaking at an event last week, and after it finished I had a chap come over and say he’ll still only create his content on FB as that’s where his audience is. Digging into it further, he thought that driving traffic to somewhere you owned was not a “legitimate” way of doing business. I smiled and walked away at that point. There’s no converting the hard core FB fans ;)

      Reply
      • Sarah- I’d argue the point and give him hard core evidence. I’ve done it before at WordCamps in front of others…in fact the presenter asked me personally to step in to answer. In fact this came up from a guy that didn’t have a website and didn’t know if he wanted to use WordPress. He was using Facebook to market to his ebay and amazon products.

        Months later, he emailed me and said that his sales were up by 325% because he opened a website, was able to list his products, and even write articles about those products. He still did well on Facebook, but was happy to increase his sales because of creating an effective website.

        Reply
  5. Thanks Sarah for reminding us of this analogy.
    Of course I want my own house, I can invite who I want, decorate it as I want and change ot, sell it or rent it out.
    Facebook is a place to share but we need to be independent so that people can come and visit our house from FB when they choose to.

    Reply
    • I agree Patricia, independence is best and that doesn’t mean avoiding Facebook it means understanding it better. Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  6. Hi Sarah,
    The debate between owned and rented media will go on for many years to come.
    Personally, I feel your website should be the hub of your online presence. As you said, you own it, you can publish the content that you want, when you want, how you want in keeping with your brand.
    Web 2.0 properties such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ are good places to develop conversations, meet new people and create a buzz for your brand however, the owner, Facebook, for example, can turn out the lights at any time without any explanation. That’s why it is a good idea to have a strategy in place to take your social media contacts on to your private blog and continue the relationship there, where you are in control. As you have ;-)

    Regards,
    James

    Reply
    • Thank you James, nice to see you here.
      I agree that web 2.0 are the meeting, buzz creating and conversing places, but blogs (websites) are where the heart should be :)

      Reply
  7. Absolutely right, Sarah.

    back when I did client setups for small businesses my presentation centered on using the idea of a baseball diamond for your online presence; with your own website as home plate. Where you started and then cover each of the other bases.

    But you are so right, there are some people who just don’t want so see it that way. You ask them if they have a website and they say yes, and they are talking about their fanpage. Or sometimes, they are talking about their personal profile which they set up as their business page.

    I did miss my guess a bit though. I had anticipated that FB would have 2 classes of accounts, free and paid, but they went with promoted posts instead. Scamps. :-)

    Reply
    • Love the baseball angle Michael :)
      Not really sure what I think on promoted posts at the moment, why would I build an audience there and then be charged to access them? Better off with a blog ;)

      Reply
      • I would be quite willing to be that the ROI on promoted posts is really low for the buyer, but probably pretty high Facebook. Way better to stick to blogs. :-)

        Reply
  8. I love the analogy! I usually tout the benefits of owning your online real estate to potential clients but I have never used an actual real estate example. Doh! I think I like this so much because it’s easy to forget that Facebook or Twitter, or a real-life landlord, have very different objectives than we do. It takes more time and energy to build up a blog but the long-term benefits outweigh my impatience. Have a powerful week, Allegra

    Reply
    • Thanks Allegra for your comment, not only are those objectives different they can even conflict with our ethics and principles – we are better off being our own landlord.

      Reply
  9. Hi Sarah,
    Wow am I glad you went of on a tangent! =) That example makes it so easy to understand and relate to.
    You are definitely right being your own boss gives you a lot more moving space!

    Thank you, Jessica.

    Reply
    • Thanks Jessica, and thank you for taking the time to comment :)

      Reply
  10. Sarah,
    I found that blogging with Facebook goes hand and hand. You develop a relationship with both if you are a person who created a “Clean Blog” and write your articles based on your experiences with areas of interest. You can find what is the hottest topic by reading others blogs for that week.

    Being in business for over 30 years I found having your own site is better based on you will fall into getting kicked off from those free sites. You have to be real and not play like you have a business. People respect you more with real content on both locations and really talk about things that support and inspire others.

    There is not right or wrong when speaking from your experiences. This goes to keeping a dialog with each visitor on your site. Keep it transparent and remember each will have their insight on your topic. That is what makes in come to life.

    Facebook is more social and once people in your group see the good content you share from reading others blogs and sharing quality topics. They begin to respect you as a real business owner and are drawn to see how your site looks. Just to not self-promote your stuff.

    It works when you keep up with managing your site and not managing your connections on Facebook.

    I thank you for bringing this topic to light. I have gain more insight by reading all the comments and seeing your respond in a great attitude way. Thanks for being on of our great coaches in this industry.

    Reply
    • Hi William, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us :)
      There are people who don’t share their content on Facebook (blog posts and other content via groups and pages), they create notes instead and share those. If they lost their Facebook account they lose all of their content :(
      For me, the blog is the home base of all social media activity but for some they prefer Facebook as their home base and that can lead to all kinds of landlord problems.

      Off on another tangent, what a captivating headline in comment luv – am going to check it out right now!

      Reply
  11. Hello Sarah,

    I really enjoyed this article and agree completely with you.

    I love how you explained the difference between a blog and FB

    “A rental home is Facebook and a mortgaged home is your blog.”

    Great article,

    Alice

    Reply
    • Thanks Alice, glad you liked it :)

      Reply
  12. Hi Sarah,

    I think you’re right, I am on facebook and have 1,800 likes on my rolling stones tribute band page,
    but, I have also got two blogs.
    It is scary not owning your own piece of real estate online, because as you say, you don’t have control and worse senario, it can be taken away from you at a moments notice, then you out in the street, (cyberspace)

    kind regards
    John

    Reply
  13. Thanks for sharing this in-depth thought I appreciate it very much. In my own opinion facebook would be the best option in terms of popularity. Entrepreneurs nowadays are more practical they go to where business can best be integrated and it is by introducing it through social media like facebook because they get to have a 100% chance of getting future potential customers.

    Reply
  14. Hi Sarah,

    The analogy is excellent and the idea should be obvious. However, I don’t think it is. People seem to not pay too much attention to this question : who is the owner? Probably because they were not hit …, yet. They will.

    Facebook has taken the path of greed and this will make more and more people suffer and open their eyes.

    “At any point they can change the rules”. Any serious business man or woman makes a plan for a specific period of time and calculates resources, expenses etc. This is even more important in case of investors.

    There is that concept of “predictability”. A serious investor will avoid those domains, niches, regions, countries, towns, companies or people that change the rules any time they want. If this wasn’t a problem until now, it will be. The economic crises continues and there is no sign it will end any time soon. Under these circumstances the resources are decreasing and people are not so willing to waste money anymore. And you don’t want to mess with companies that change the rules any time they want.

    One more thing. The speed of change is now so fast that soon everybody will suffer. Too much stability is bad. However, too much change is equally bad. You need and equilibrium, a harmony between the two.

    Have a nice day

    Reply
  15. I don’t think the comparison between a rented or owned house is quite right, except for home-based businesses. As soon as a business gets premises then almost always they are renting rayher than owning, so inherently buolding their business on some one else’s property

    Reply
    • Business rentals and home rentals are two different things Dan, and I refer to home rentals in the article :)
      Businesses when they lease tend to have a long lease so yes, it is on someone else’s property but you know exactly where you stand with the landlords. This is not the case in the domestic rental place.

      Reply
      • I absolutely agree with your expanded explanation, but nto in the original article as it didn’t differentiate between them.

        Not all online businesses will be based out of home, or as in our case will grow out of home, so will be built on some one else property. Even with the longer leases that are more common for businesses, thjngs can and do change as time goes on, so there’s always a degree of uncertainty.

        With regards your specific post theme, I would never see it as a case of building in Facebook or a blog but using both as platforms to build my business, with each supporting the other.

        Yes Facebook can and does regularly change things that we have no control over, but then Google also change their algorithm and this can have a major impact on blog rankings, as with Panda and Penguin.

        Reply
        • Hi Dan, no where in the post do I mention that businesses are home based if they are online. That’s something you’ve read into what I’ve written. Which probably explains why you first question came about. Also Google isn’t the only search engine in town, and it never has been although it would like you think that it was.

          Reply
  16. “A rental home is Facebook and a mortgaged home is your blog.”
    Says it all Sarah – well thought out analogy.

    Reply
  17. Great post and analogy Sarah, I am a very visual person and I could easily compare both of them in my mind, Need to treat my blog more like my home and keep upgrading it! Thanks for the info.

    Reply
    • Thanks Cesar, and welcome.
      I hope your blog is as warm and inviting as your home :)

      Reply
  18. Facebook has quietly removed the “20% text rule” for Page cover photos. In case you weren’t aware, since March 2013, Facebook has had a guideline stipulating that cover photos on Facebook could not include more than 20 percent text. This rule caused both confusion and frustration among business Page owners. It was often hard to judge whether or not a cover image was in compliance. And some brands seemed to get away with breaking the rules, while others didn’t.

    Reply
  19. I used to think the Hub and Spoke model was a good enough analogy for why one must have a blog and that too on one’s website, but the rental vs mortgage property analogy is superb. One more reason why I am glad I invested in my own website and blog. Facebook and other social media are great places to meet new people and strike up a conversation but at the end of the day, I prefer inviting folks to my home – my blog.

    Reply
  20. I do agree Sarah :D

    It is important to have your own home – a home in which “you” are the ultimate authority. But, if you are just starting out (or if you are just planning to start another blog, like me), it’s better to start out with a rental home.

    For new bloggers, it helps to build experience and learn to avoid popular blogging mistakes even before you come across them. For established bloggers, we can use the time to meet new people, brainstorm ideas and build up the hype :D

    We can use Social media sites to our advantage. Building those relationships, those fans before we even start a blog allows us to kick start our project. “Make our blog popular even before it is born” :D (Like a successful product launch).

    Anyways, Great analogy :D

    Reply

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