Who Owns Your Digital Assets?

Should you build your audience and pages only on 3rd party platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc.? This is a questions that I see quite frequently in various digital marketing forums.
In this post I am going to provide you my point of view on this subject.
These 3rd party platforms are huge with lots of traffic so first and foremost you should try to grab your share of the traffic from them. You should work hard to clearly figure out how to make the most of these platforms and how to leverage their reach to help your business grow.  However, you should not build your entire business on them.
Why you might ask?  Because they have the power to shut you down anytime for no fault of your own.You don't want to be in a situation where you entire business comes crashing down one day.  You are at their mercy, you don't control their terms and polices, either you agree or disagree. If you disagree then you can't be part of that platform or network.
If for some reason you are found in violation of any of their terms and policies you could be completely shut out. Then all you are left with is to fight with back and forth emails, if you are lucky. In most cases you might not even get a timely response.
Some Examples:
Facebook blocked user accounts - Check out this post titled "What I Learned When Facebook Disabled My Account". This post has a lot of comments about people losing their access to Facebook and hence access to their pages and groups etc.
Twitter suspending accounts  - Below is an example tweet that shows you that once your account gets suspended then it becomes difficult to get it restored
My Experience:
 
I also had such experience recently where Google shut down my account for a few minutes. I am still not sure why that happened. All I got was an email that my account was suspended for not following Google policies but they did not give any clear indication.  The email was very generic in nature and I believe that was done automatically by an algorithm. Since the email was sent to my gmail account, I only got that after the account was restored. I was lucky that it got restored automatically in few mins.
However this experience was scary as I have a lot of stuff on Google.  I have my emails on Gmail, my pictures on Google, Videos on YouTube, this blog is on Blogger (owned by Google), Google docs etc. Imagine if I was left without access to these things for days.
Solution
 
Always keep a backup of important files, documents, emails and audience that your business depends on.
Businesses
 
  1. Drive your  audience to your own websites and blogs (not a free platform as I do). Facebook pages, groups, twitter accounts are all great but you really don't own them so make sure to drives users to your own sites.
  2. Build your own marketing lists - collect emails.
  3. Own the customer information and data rather than just relying on a pixel that sends the data to Google and Facebook.
Individuals
  1. Have a back email solution - keep important contacts and emails in multiple places
  2.  Keep backup of your docs, photos, videos etc. in multiple places - I keep them in Google, Amazon, OneDrive etc.
  3. If you want to keep them in one place then have multiple account access so even if you lose one account, you have other admin accounts that can access them.
Do you really own anything?
You rent domains names, host sites and data in cloud owned by other companies. They can decided to shut it down for violation of terms. Your emails service provider sends emails on your behalf, they can take away your ability to email to your customers if you have too many spam complaints or other service violations. Your business or personal digital assets are stored with someone else, there is a possibility of you losing access. Isn't it?
Anything else you would like to add? Share you experience in the comments below.
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