Does It Matter Who ‘Owns’ Your Content?

This post originally appeared on the McCollins Media Blog

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years you’ll be aware of the massive push towards Content Marketing these days. Any company looking to compete online will be producing content of some sort; whether on social media, a company blog, email newsletters etc. in the hope of getting some exposure, and that exposure leading to a sale. And while there are many ways to push your content out into the world, owning your own content is the Holy Grail – that is, hosting it on your own site.

How people are directed to your site to view it is a contentious issue in itself, and where social media is concerned, it can be risky relying on Facebook & Co. for your traffic as they are constantly tweaking their algorithm to restrict the reach of posts from businesses, and forcing brands to pay for the privilege. With this in mind, more businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of controlling their own content and the relationships with their followers.

Facebook recently began to roll out a news hosting service that presents content from publishers such as the New York Times, NBC, BuzzFeed and the BBC directly in the Timeline. Basically, this means that Facebook owns that page view rather than the content publisher themselves. In a media landscape that is struggling to find ways to monetize, this is yet further fragmentation of the space.  Tinkering with native content – or as Facebook calls it, Instant Articles – is not much of a surprise for a platform that is so focused on pushing other people’s content, but it’s now clear that they  want a bigger piece of the publishing pie.

What does this mean for brands though? Well, not much just yet unless you are one of the publishers handing over your content to Facebook. But if anything, this has set a precedent with Facebook clearly wanting to get into the content hosting space. Not just sharing links anymore, but presenting the content directly itself. With this in mind, it’s not a stretch to imagine Facebook soon rolling out a company blog-style service similar to LinkedIn Pulse, and trying to move even more of the brand-customer relationship to it’s platform.

I’ve heard some people raise concerns lately over rescinding more control to Facebook when it comes to managing their relationships with customers. But is this really something to be worried about? For your typical SME, I would argue no. Sure, Facebook acting as a gatekeeper to your followers is not ideal, but when it comes to content, the more channels of distribution there are, the more chance of exposure for your brand.

This addresses the age-old challenge of discovery. If you only host your content on your own website, it exists in a vacuum. But if you also put it up on other channels (e.g. LinkedIn Pulse, Medium etc.) and possibly a new Facebook hosting platform, it has more of a chance to gain some traction and have a further reach. Get it out there. This post itself is up on three different platforms. While that might be frowned upon when it comes to SEO, your content shouldn’t be a slave to an algorithm, it should try to make a connection with people.

Brands are understandably sceptical about relinquishing yet more power to Facebook, but when it comes to channels for your content to prosper on – the more the merrier! A successful blogging platform on Facebook could actually encourage a whole new generation of content creators, and revolutionize brand story-telling in the process.