Consider Who Owns Your Online Investments

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Web marketing has become a much more decentralized process. It used to be that your online presence would consist of a static website and nothing more. The goal was to drive visitors to your website where they would be converted into leads. However, the process and strategy is changing.

As my colleague Gyi Tskalakis points out in his article The Distributed Web:

When it comes to marketing a law firm online, the concept of the distributed web is especially important. It is more important to get your content in front of your targeted audience than it is to drive them to your website.

That is why legal blogs, social media, and content platforms play such an important role in building your web presence. They allow you to disseminate your content to a much broader targeted audience.

It is no longer sufficient for your online marketing strategy to consist of a lone, static website. While having a website remains an important component of online marketing, investments need to be made in blogging, social media (such as Facebook and LinkedIn), and content platforms (like JD Supra and ExpertHub).  However, when deciding how to make investments in these various components of your web strategy it is important to understand who owns the platforms.  Let me explain.

 

Renting Vs. Buying

When it comes to utilizing other companies’ platforms for your marketing, such as social networking sites, it is important to understand that you do not own your terms of service.  In a great quote by David Dalka, he explains the difference between investing in online properties you own vs. those you don’t:

Think of it this way, a social networking profile is like an apartment, while a web site built on a domain you own is property that belongs to you. You don’t see too many people rent an apartment and then invest $20,000 in remodeling the kitchen do you? This is because the improvement in property is not owned by the individual and the future values of the improvements are highly uncertain.

The same is true of social networking sites. This is typically not seen as a problem by individuals. It also goes unnoticed by most traditional brand marketers as they are used to expiring, non-measurable media in the pre-Internet era of marketing and often not held accountable by senior management. Once fully understood by senior business executives, the microeconomics of marketing channels has emerging implications for enterprise business strategy, marketing budget resource allocation and eventual redefinition of the skill sets required to lead businesses into the future successfully.

The main point to consider here is that when assessing how much to invest in each component of your online strategy, it would be wise to consider which of those properties you are building equity in. Which of those properties do you actually own?

Investing time and resources into a firm website or blog is an investment in properties you own. Spending money on advertising Facebook Business Pages, Google Places accounts, building followers on social networks, etc. should be a component of your strategy and in many cases will yield results. But ultimately, you do not control the fate of the properties that you do not own. Even though they deliver results now, the future value and control of those investments is highly uncertain.

I’m not suggesting you ignore taking advantage of these additional outlets to acquire clients. I’m simply pointing out that you must consider making your largest investments in online properties that you have equity in.

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