What if we told you about an ultra powerful, infinitely flexible social media tool that allows you to publish business-building content — text, audio, or video — without holding you to any arbitrary rules?
It’s a tool that fixes everything that’s broken about the existing social media sites, new and old.
It gives you an astonishing degree of freedom — to say what you want, the way you want to say it, and in the format that works best for you.
With this tool, no one can ever tell you your content is “overly commercial” or flag an image as “possibly inappropriate.” As long as you aren’t breaking the law, the rules are totally up to you.
You’re in control
You have 100 percent control over the look and functionality of your page. You can keep it simple or trick it out with hundreds of bells and whistles.
You have 100 percent control over what others can do on your page. The tool gives you the power to delete (or even modify) comments, block users, and report comments as spam so other users don’t have to deal with those pests.
You have 100 percent control over how commercial you want your page to be.
You have 100 percent control over how much content you post. In fact, what we’re calling your “page” could actually be 1,000 pages, 10,000, or more.
The tool includes powerful mechanisms for social connecting and sharing, so you can foster conversation and keep an eye on what your audience finds interesting.
And it’s simple to connect to an email list, so you can capture leads for deeper engagement.
What is this “hot new” social media tool?
This is starting to sound like one of those infomercials for a knife that “slices, dices, and juliennes baby vegetables.”
By now you might have guessed it … this “hot new” social media tool that corrects so many existing problems is nothing other than your own self-hosted website.
Wait, I thought social media was Facebook and Twitter?
Social media is simply technology that’s … social. It’s technology that allows for dialogue, interaction, and listening.
You’ll hold conversations on your website’s blog, just like you do in your favorite social media hangout.
It’s a bit like interacting with friends at a dinner party in your home versus meeting them at a restaurant. They’re both opportunities for interaction, and often the more private locale encourages a deeper level of communication.
And while networking sites like Twitter and Facebook can be useful places to broaden your audience, they can never be the foundation of an enduring content platform.
Even blogs that don’t allow comments have a social component. The definition of great content is content that’s shared, that’s talked about, that’s passed along … content that is, to borrow Seth Godin’s word, remarkable.
Most blogs capitalize on this by welcoming comments (and reading them carefully to see what’s going on with the audience), as well as facilitating social sharing over whatever the flavor-of-the-year site happens to be.
(That’s one of the reasons, of course, why you can’t build an enduring content platform on someone else’s real estate. Social networking sites get stale faster than Adam Carolla’s jokes.)
Your site is your centerpiece
Chris Brogan calls it a home base, or you can think of it as a hub.
Your own content-rich site, on a domain you own, managed with good content management software, is where you’ll put about 80 percent of your content marketing time and energy.
A site like this becomes a valuable business asset. Over time, it develops a reputation — both with human readers and with search engines.
It’s where you develop the ideas that will become your unique selling proposition.
It’s where you’ll foster the customer conversations that spark new product ideas.
It’s where you’ll optimize your content for both search engines and potential customers.
You know, you don’t have to call your content a “blog”
Some types of people read blogs, and some don’t.
If your potential customers don’t read blogs, there’s no reason in the world you have to call your content-rich, social-sharing-friendly website a blog.
Call it a resource center, content library, or radio show. Call it an Interactive Directory of Awesomeness for all I care.
Labels are important — so if you don’t want to call your self-hosted content hub a blog, think of something that will resonate better with your audience.
I promise, I won’t tell.
A few website-building tips
The Rainmaker Platform is the complete solution for digital marketing and sales that helps you focus on your business more and your technology less.
It allows you to build your audience with articles, audio, and video, grow your email list faster, earn more with marketing automation, craft killer landing pages, start profitable membership programs, sell online courses and digital products, and much more.
If you opt for creating your website’s blog with a premium WordPress theme for SEO-friendly code, solid security, and professional design, make sure you also have a really good web host (this becomes increasingly important as you start to get more traffic).
And don’t be tempted to start your blog on anything other than your own domain. The few simple hoops you’ll initially jump through will amply pay off down the line.
Drive all of your traffic to your content hub
That’s great … just make sure you’re sending them back to your website.
Publishing an ebook that includes groundbreaking advice?
Excellent strategy … be sure it’s loaded with plenty of links to great material on your website.
Putting out a traditionally published book — the kind made out of dead trees?
Include links to landing pages on your website designed to create lasting relationships with those readers.
If you focus your time and energy on driving traffic to your website (and then on to your email list and/or membership site so you can continue the conversation with your audience), you’ll be building an increasingly valuable asset.
How about you?
Do you have a content hub — a centerpiece for your content marketing? Do you call it a blog? Is it where you’re spending most of your time and attention … or do you get seduced into spending your days at the lastest shiny social hangout?
Let us know in the comments how you’re using your content centerpiece.
Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on June 20, 2012.