Platform Independent Online Publishing

A wood platform on the beach which is already under water.

Platform independence is a term known from programming. It’s not solely about software though. In reality it matters for website owners and online publishers as well.

In practice platform independent programming means that a piece of software does not depend on a certain browser, plug in or operating system.

Dependence on a single platform can make or break a business.

At a certain point in time platform dependence might seem the right way to go – think Google optimization today.  In the long run being dependent on a single service is a recipe for disaster.

Need an example? By now we see that some websites only “support” Google Chrome – the currently market dominant browser. They don’t work or are buggy on Firefox.

History is repeating. When Microsoft dominated the browser market with Internet Explorer many sites only worked on IE. It was a short-sighted decision as we know by now.

 

When gatekeepers close the gate or walled gardens degenerate

Any business person that has lost a substantial part of its visitors and revenue due to a Google penalty or tweak in the Google algo knows what I am talking about.

People who relied on Facebook and have seen organic traffic turn into a trickle for no apparent reason other than to make room for ads know it too.

In 2018 many publishers cried foul when Facebook – many of them depended upon for traffic – announced a major algorithm change to remove their pages from people’s feeds.

Platform dependency on Google is still common.

In countries like the UK, France or Germany where Google is the de facto search engine monopoly many people readily give up on their freedom by relying on Google traffic and ads.

On social media this situation gets even worse. Many legit social media participants create power accounts on sites like

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+

just to discover that they have been banned. I have also seen all kinds of legit users being axed for various reasons on social media sites. Other sites simply disappear due to

  • bankruptcy
  • acquisition
  • negligence.

Marketers (of course!) but also bloggers and even activists are often affected. Facebook has even banned gay-rights activists for not using their real names.

You have no rights whatsoever on social media sites. They can ban you on their whim. Being angry about it does not make sense. You have to prepare yourself for that.

Leaving for another “next big thing” service will only help temporarily.

At first startups innovate and grow backed by “venture capital” but sooner or later they have to squeeze out their user base.

Making money online from third party content and connections still largely amount to ads. These sites have to be squeaky clean to attract advertisers. You may not fit in anymore. Think Tumblr!

 

How to play by your own rules

How to prepare yourself for being platform independent in times when only a few sites seem to control everything, both in search as well as on social media?

  • Make sure to collect your contacts internally, that is using CRM software or similar tools.
  • Make sure to (be able to) connect with your peers using tools like Email, Skype etc. and NOT by using internal social media sites systems.
  • Make sure not to publish solely on third party sites like Blogger, WordPress.com, Facebook, Twitter or Medium but make sure to have your own self hosted blog.
  • Make sure to have several major traffic sources, especially focusing on returning visitors and subscribers.
  • Make sure to brand yourself as a person or business. When people know you by name they will proactively search for you and seek you out.
  • Make sure not to rely on solely one ad provider, especially Google ads but try to get several revenue streams.

While I attempted to become independent from Google with this blog I failed to practice truly platform independent online publishing.

In order to stay independent for good you need to build your won audience using tools you control yourself. Feeds or mail have been such tools for a while.

Now Google even controls the inboxes of the global population through Gmail.

I invested much time and effort in some platforms like Google+ that either failed to become mainstream or that made it but throttle organic reach to sell more ads.

 

Connecting on your own terms

From now on I want to learn from my own mistakes and connect with my peers in a platform independent way.

Contact me by mail or comment below this post here so that we can connect independently of gatekeepers and walled gardens.

You can also tell me your favorite way of communication in case you prefer another channel. Tell me who you are and how can I contact you in future independently from any social site.

Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin etc
. are great tools but they own you. They own your content. They control your connections. They decide what you see and what not.

There is even a popular term for the sad state of the Web. We call it the “filter bubble” where you only get shown what the algorithms chooses for you based on your past interactions.

First published: September 14th, 2009. Last updated: January 26th, 2018. I completely overhauled the post without diluting the message.