Owned versus Borrowed Media

Oy yoiyoi. What a week it’s been, friends.

If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know I’ve been feeling pretty discouraged about Instagram lately. Their algorithm has kicked into gear big time, and it’s resulting in less people seeing and engaging with my posts (and I don’t even have a business account). Then, a couple weeks ago, Facebook announced that it was putting into practice a new algorithm, an algorithm that prioritizes content that “sparks conversations and meaningful interactions between people.” There is much buzzing about this in the social media community, as it follows on the wake of talk that business pages will be given zero reach and moved to a separate tab.

owned versus borrowed media

And then came YouTube. This week, they announced that they will be changing the rules around monetization. Now, in order to monetize, you need to have a minimum of 1,000 subscribers and a total watch time of 4,000 hours in the last year.

The upshot of this is that my YouTube channel, which I have been working so hard on since April, will now be de-monetized next month.

Okay, so it’s not like I was making any money from it–a buck here, a buck there–but it still feels like a setback.

The upshot is; there’s lots to be discouraged about as we start off 2018.

But it got me to thinking; when did we get to the place where we were so dependent upon social media? When I first started out in this crazy game 10 years ago, we all had blogs, we had mailing lists and newsletters, and then we had Facebook and Twitter. But we still focused primarily on creating our own content. Facebook and Twitter were for connecting with friends and later, for marketing our content. This is the difference between owned versus borrowed media.

I wonder if we’ve become too dependent upon Facebook and YouTube and Instagram. They are, after all, at the end of the day, borrowed media. That means, while we own our content on these channels, we don’t own the channel itself, so we only have a certain amount of control over it.

For example, a few years back, I was working for a theatre company that used a photo of Cupid for their poster. I was so jazzed about that image–we had it shot professionally, and it was a thing of beauty. I uploaded it to Facebook, and it immediately got removed because there was a bum in the photo. I had violated Facebook’s terms of service. Uploading that same photo onto the theatre company’s website was no problem–we owned that slice of the internet.

I will be the last person to tell you not to use FB and Twitter and Instagram and YouTube to market your business. In fact, it would be highly hypocritical of me to do so, seeing as I literally make a living teaching people how to do just that.

But I think it might be time for us to seriously start thinking about owned media again. That means creating content on blogs, and building our mailing lists, something which, I have to admit, I have never been very great at.

Blogging, though. I’m still hanging in there 10 years later. I’m creating less than I used to though, so maybe it’s time to change that? It’s clear to me from experiments I’ve done in the past that the more content you create, the more traffic you get.

I’m not going to stop making videos. The plan is to continue to create one new vlog per week. I have spend the last month upgrading my gear and equipment, and it would be a shame to let that go to waste. But I’m going back to considering YouTube more of a place to store my content, rather than a platform to build up. I mean, if one of my videos goes suddenly viral and I get 1,000 subscribers overnight, that’d be great, but the chances of that happening are quite slim.

I want to encourage you guys to think about this stuff as well. Where are you creating the bulk of your content? Is it on owned or borrowed media? The choices you make could be quite impactful.

Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to continue the conversation.

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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

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