Photo by L’enfant terrible
There are lots of excellent free web services out there, like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Blogger, Flickr and YouTube. You should definitely take advantage of some of them, but whatever you do, don’t build your entire business on them.
If your web presence is confined to MySpace or a blog hosted by Blogger (i.e. Google), then you don’t own your home, you only rent it. Your digital landlord can kick you out at any time, or disable features that are critical to your business.
Instead, you should own your own domain (e.g. www.yourcompanyname.com) and host your main website here. This is what Chris Brogan calls your Home Base — your digital ‘home’. When your main goal should be to entice people to visit and revisit your Home Base, to develop a relationship with you and buy your products and services.
Treat services like Twitter, Facebook etc as Outposts — places you visit to meet others and network. Every single one of your outposts should include a prominent link to your Home Base.
Darren Rowse on home bases and outposts.
So for example, my main Home bases are Wishful Thinking and Lateral Action. My favourite outpost is Twitter (you can follow me here) and I also use shapeshifters, LinkedIn, Behance and Facebook quite often.
For an overview of some of the most useful outposts, read my article The Top 10 Social Networks for Creative People.
These articles explain why Twitter is my favourite outpost:
For advice on using outposts effectively to drive traffic to your home base, read Mark Hayward’s article How to Go Beyond Your Small Business Blog and Create a Social Media Footprint.
Home bases and outposts
What Home bases do you have?
What outposts do you use?
Which outposts do your potential customers use?
Do you need to add more Home bases or outposts?
Monitoring traffic to your Home bases
You should be carefully monitoring the traffic to your home bases. At the very least, you need to know how many people are visiting your site, and where they are coming from.
There are some excellent free services available to help you do this. I use Statcounter (for up-to-the-minute information about who’s visiting my site today) and Google Analytics (for comprehensive stats that allow me to analyse how my site is performing over a longer period).