The Hidden Dangers Of Not Having A Social Media Base Camp

I am strong believer in the social media base camp concept. Social media success needs a base camp – else everything we do is at the mercy of the elements.

Case in point is the shutting down of Vox.

Vox is (soon will be was) a free blogging platform launched by Six Apart, the same folks behind Movable Type and TypePad in 2006. Along the way, it also ate up Pownce, another free social networking and micro-blogging platform.

One of the reasons Vox found some following was it’s ability to bring in social networking features to the blog – similar to what BuddyPress et.al. do today.

I was reading through a hot off the press review of Vox from 2006, just before it was opened to the public:

Vox is a new approach to blogging and social networking, and I think it could potentially bring the two phenomena to a whole new audience. I can see myself using Vox as a largely private blog, with only friends and family able to view the vast majority of posts, taking advantage of the permissions features and photo uploading.

By making blogging central to what is essentially a social networking product, and using a tasteful, highly usable design, Six Apart have made Vox interesting as a way to keep in touch, rather than meet new people as with Myspace, Bebo etc. This is likely to appeal to far more people as a concept. Coupled with attempts to create a great community through This is Good posts promoted across the service, and suggested questions to answer in blog posts, I can see Vox creating a real buzz.

Fast forward 4 years, and you come to this announcement from Six Apart about the fate of Vox:

Vox has been a fun place to explore, create and connect with your friends. But Vox is closing its doors on September 30, 2010.

This doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to your blog. We want you to make sure you can keep the great content you’ve shared on Vox, and continue to have a home for your blog. To help you make the transition off of Vox, we’ve added new export features that make it easy to move your blog to a free TypePad account, and your photos & videos to Flickr.

The migrations, exit routes and alternative options are all good. But the folks who were using Vox as their primary blog platforms will soon find that the cheese has moved. One fine morning next month, their *.vox.com blog links will not longer work.

Worse still, for all we know, the same user/blog names might not even be available on the proposed alternatives. Which literally means that some of the users will just fall off the map – their readers not knowing where they have moved to.

And we haven’t even started taking about what the search engines are going to think about the change – and the traffic.

And while the dust from the Vox announcement is still settling down, I am hearing rumors that something else might also be changing on the TypePad side of the world.

In the fast changing world of social media, it’s very easy for today leaders to become obsolete tomorrow. What’s working today might not see the light of the day a few years from now.

Which brings us back to my base camp concept.

Your social media base camps should always be a blog – that you own and run – and (ideally) host too. That’s one definite way to ensure longevity of your own social media – and the ability to build and leave behind a legacy.

Why run the risk of making your own social media efforts and investments obsolete and irrelevant? It’s just not worth it!

You don’t want to be locked out of our own base camp one day – you need to own all the keys to your base camp.

Do you agree? What else are you doing to keep your social media base camps strong and fortified?

(Image Credit: maistora http://www.flickr.com/photos/maistora/)

9 Responses to The Hidden Dangers Of Not Having A Social Media Base Camp
  1. Jonny Rose
    Twitter: 98rosjon
    September 5, 2010 | 10:11 am

    My primary ‘base camp’ where I do most of my social media interactions is Facebook, as it is there that ALL my online photos, videos, memories and a majority of my network and contacts are.

    As such, I am very much at the mercy of Mark Zuckerberg. Even if I wanted to, I am unable to extract all the media (photos, videos, conversations) onto another platform without losing the *social* aspect of it.

    It is for this reason that I find A BLOG IS NOT ENOUGH. Most blogs aren’t *social*. At best they are *social-ized* media.

    It’s a double-edged sword. Whilst I am locked into Facebook and it could collapse or go under in 4 years time (like ‘Vox’), I still have to be thankful that it is a *FREE* service.

    To keep with your base camp analogy,

    Whilst I don’t own the keys to the camp, the rent is free and buying into another base camp would be too expensive for me.

    Thoughts Kapil?

    • Kapil Apshankar
      September 7, 2010 | 12:04 am

      I kind of see where you are coming from Jonny. You can’t (and probably will never be able to) do the kind of social interactions on a blog the way Facebook makes it possible.

      However, the base camp analogy is a bit different. You could still use a blog to build your network – with branches forking out into Facebook – and any other channels that play a big role in your life.

      At the end of the day, all the roads could (and should) come back to your blog.

      The other option that you could explore is to use something more elaborate than just WordPress to build your world – BuddyPress might be one alternative to consider.

      Chris Guillebeau and Gary Vaynerchuk are perhaps the best case studies of the base camp concept. Both of them have very active Facebook lives, and yet everything they do always comes back to their blogs.

  2. Danny Brown
    Twitter: DannyBrown
    September 5, 2010 | 5:04 pm

    The problem is, unless we all suddenly grow developing chops and build our own very unique network, we could all face the same fate as Vox.

    Even WordPress.org relies on third-party hosting – what if that goes down?

    None of us are completely safe from the same fate.
    Danny Brown recently posted… Email or RSS – Feeding the Inbox

    • Kapil Apshankar
      September 7, 2010 | 12:08 am

      Agree, Danny. I guess it’s the degrees of safety that we are looking here.

      With a good backup strategy, even if a web host disappears, chances are you could resurrect your basecamp and move over to a different host.

      And if we move up the hosting ladder by a notch (like you did with BlogOnCloud9), the chances of everything coming down are pretty remote.

      A well fortified base camp has the ability to withstand the elements for a much longer duration – and if it falls, it better be the end of the world 🙂

  3. Mike CJ
    Twitter: mikecj
    September 6, 2010 | 2:00 am

    I totally agree with you Kapil. To build your main home base on somebody else’s platform is just too dangerous. You have to have your own domain and host it somewhere yourself. It makes you bullet proof, whatever happens in the outside world, you remain in control of your primary online home and brand.
    Mike CJ recently posted… Saturday Discussion – How Would You Invest In Your Blog

    • Kapil Apshankar
      September 7, 2010 | 12:10 am

      Bingo, Mike. You nailed it there!

      Add to it a good backup strategy for the site/data backups – and we’ve got a great basecamp that can last a very very long time 🙂

      I currently use BackupBuddy for my backups, and then move the data over to BackBlaze. But with services like VaultPress coming up, this should only be a downhill journey from here on.

  4. Jimi Jones
    Twitter: JimiJones
    September 6, 2010 | 10:14 am

    This really points out the importance of owning your own domain. It’s unfortunate for users to see their hard work end up this way but that’s the downside of using platforms owned by others.
    Jimi Jones recently posted… How I Learned To Focus On What Matters

    • Kapil Apshankar
      September 7, 2010 | 12:13 am

      True, Jimi. I guess it’s also the lure of getting in at a low cost – and being able to create some ground without getting too much technical.

      I’d recommend a copy of the WordPress for Dummies book for anyone who is technologically handicapped – and laying the foundation of a solid base camp should be fairly easy – done in a copybook style 🙂

  5. […] I first wrote about this topic in Where’s Your Social Media Base Camp – and then in The Hidden Dangers of Not Having A Social Media Base Camp. […]