Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others are indeed fantastic tools to get in touch with people and even reach out to the wider public audience; those platforms are morphing into genuine crowd-sourced generated and curated media channels which have transformed the way we consume media and that is amazing. Content is being heavily pushed into those Social Media channels; requiring considerable investment to produce, manage or curate. There are however several inherent problems with those social platforms:
- Owned by *other* commercial companies; which put you under their mercy. Some of them force you to disclose personal information that you may not, otherwise, be comfortable in sharing, such as your contact details or identification documents.
- Your account could be *easily* hi-jacked or even locked because of reports made against you. In many occasions the reports are not even valid but to be cautious they will lock you out anyway. Hence you are vulnerable to losing all the content you produced or curated which required a lot of effort.
- Your content gets easily lost because its gets quickly buried deep under other content that you or other people share. People wont really bother drilling deep for your best hits. Look at any successful Facebook page for example and see how painful it is to go and read just few days back. So the content is essentially put there only for short-term consumption, beyond that its practically unreachable.
- Social media platforms are not particularly good at SEO; so your amazing hits wont be noticeable on Google or other search engines for that matter, you would often see very few matches from social medial despite the fact that they are the primary producers of content.
- Social media platforms are content-specific and limited. On Facebook (the king of social media) you can’t format the text of your post (Rich text was invented 30 years ago); on Twitter you can’t go beyond the irritating 140-characters limit, on Instagram you can’t publish text-alone content so people end up taking a snapshot of the text they wish to share …etc.
- Social media platforms are semi-immutable: meaning they don’t give you the option to restructure the content you contribute in new ways. Say for example you want to mass-manage your content and introduce a new level of categorization; that is simply not possible. Let alone the inability to modify the content to your heart content; on linked or twitter you can’t edit/update; on facebook you can’t edit the media content and so forth.
- Proprietary social media platforms don’t play nicely with each other; they sat themselves onto this battle of possessing and locking users. They don’t easily inter-operate and this would only lead to their demise in the medium term. Think of the (in)famous AOL (America On Line) and their unparalleled grip on the Internet and the Instant Messaging landscape at the time in the US.
- Social Platforms are not really good at personalizing the consumption of content per the liking of your followers. Consumers either see all the content you publish or none of it (sometimes Social Media platforms try to be smart at that but without giving the producer or consumer the option to choose). In many cases you would want to dispense different categories of content into different types of interest-groups say per topic or per language (something beyond friends/family/public classification of Facebook). I write and share posts on a variety of topics; political, technical, religious ..etc; some might only be interested in reading one aspect of my contributions but not all.
For the above reasons combined and probably for more that ached me hard; I would recommend starting your own content publishing and curation setup; This could simply be a blog (e.g. Wrodpress), a wiki engine (e.g DokuWiki or MediaWiki) or even a general file-sharing tool (e.g. OwnCloud) into which you can post and manage every thing you like and would like to share with the world. Then using many of the available tools you could post that content into your favorite social media out there; as most if not all of them provide API-based access for such automation plugins.
At your option you can backup your full data, manage/maintain it, reformat it and keep it as long as you need.
You could also reserve your own domain and point it to your content repository; which would make it really easy to move around switching your hosting provider in a twink of an eye.
By doing this you would have taken back control of your content. In more technical terms you will be owning your own master / golden copy of your content then you’d replicate that into the various distribution sync points (aka existing social media channels).
Last but not least I would also suggest looking at free (as in freedom) social media platforms such as Identi.ca and Dispora (among many others) which will keep you self-hosted and potentially put more pressure on the big boys to open up their platforms for cross-sharing.
Imagine a world where your establish, grow/upscale and maintain your network of friends and followers independent of which social media platform you use; a world where you could – at your option- publish your curated or generated content immediately on a number of channels across the various social media platforms with the appropriate semantics and categorization. Imagine a world where you could specify the types of content/topics you are interested to receive from a particular person you follow. Imagine that you would only need to maintain one global identity that you can use against any social-media outlet. Now that is where the future would lie.
I predict It would take couple of years before Free and Open Source options pick up on the main stream and present a decentralized content sharing/distribution and messaging platforms, think of how Telegram made a dent recently, let alone mature Email and IM options. Its just a matter of consolidating and integrating a number of already existing technologies.