The Perils Of Free Platforms

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I've said it before and I'll say it again. Free platforms can come at a much greater cost than just shelling out for your own web properties to begin with.

What free platforms?

Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube, Blogger, Typepad,, etc. are all free platforms with their own rules and restrictions. What do they all have in common? They make the rules and their terms (which most people don't bother to read) clearly state: These rules are subject to change without notice. It is your responsibility to make yourself aware of changes by occasionally coming back to reread them.

What's the danger?

It's their ball, their yard, their rules. Anything you do is subject to losing everything you have there. And you never know when the rules are going to change or if you'll arbitrarily be found in violation.

When the rules can change from one day to the next and what was not a problem is now verboten, you can end up like this guy. He had a free blogger account and google shut down his account erasing 14 years of work.

But Rob, don't You use these platforms?

I do use some of them like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and YouTube. But I do not rely solely on them. These are channels of distribution for me, nothing more.

How would you fare?

If one of these platforms decides to change the rules, or in this case, delete your account today, what would that do to your marketing? Could you just unplug that channel and plug in the next? What about all of your content?

How to use any free site

This isn't just about social media sites, but any website you don't own. Sites you don't own should only be built up for three main purposes. Those are:

  • Driving traffic to your site
  • Brand exposure
  • Social proof

Social media sites have one HUGE advantage over your website:

That is where the people are going naturally, constantly, and consistently. Conversion rarely takes place on social sites. That's why you want to drive traffic back to your website so you can convert that traffic to sales.

Have the home field advantage

Having your own site means you don't have to comply with strict, arbitrary, and ever-changing rules that can shut you down. Your own website gives you options when it comes to adding on systems that benefit you without begging or waiting for them to become available.

And if you want to do something, it's just a matter of can it be done and finding the right person to do it. You don't have to then try to figure out how can it be done within their sliding scale of compliance.

A few months back, I did a training session for a marketing automation company (LeadOutcome) where I spoke specifically about the solution to this problem. Click the button below to see the training.

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Rob Calhoun

Backend Specialist at R. Calhoun IE
+ Rob Calhoun Helps small to medium businesses succeed by building systems for them that help them get new customers, retain customers, and re-energize past customers. Rob helps clients and marketers maximize the return they get from their online marketing efforts.

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Anthony says

That is an interesting take on free platforms. When it comes to relying solely on the free platform, I definitely agree. I do think it is a rare occurrence for your site to be deleted, especially from G+. There must’ve been something negative about the site. Generally these platforms will send you a message first and give you opportunities prior to disabling your account. I use G+ to upload posts from my personal website. so if something happens to my account, I haven’t lost everything. I feel that is good advice. Thanks Rob.

Obaid says

What do you think the best way to start on social? through facebook! or google+

    Rob Calhoun says


    The best social site to start with depends on where your target market is. If your market is primarily on twitter, kik, snapchat, instagram, pintrest, or linkedin and you’re trying to decide whether Facebook or G+ is right, you’ve lost before you started.
    Rob Calhoun recently posted..More Important Than MoneyMy Profile

Dhruv Mangukia says

really nice. This should help me finding the right social media to target my efforts. many many thanks

Abigail says

Hmm.. That’s really a different point of view – I have always seen people suggesting to go all in on Social Platforms – good to see the alternative view point.

    Rob Calhoun says

    What good is doing many things if they bring little or no results because you’re doing the wrong things? Have a strategy before you start, and your chances of success go up exponentially over those who wing it and do what the crowd says or seems to be doing.
    Rob Calhoun recently posted..Why Your Customers Use Competitors And How To Stop ItMy Profile

Debbie Gartner says

Oh yes, I learned this lesson early on. I had a free site. It was not my main site (I used it more for backlinking to another blog). I had not spent a ton of time on it – maybe 10 quick blog posts. And, then poof, it was gone as somehow it was taken down because it was “commercial.” Thankfully, I had a main blog which I fully owned. This was a bummer, but a key lesson.

I may now go and set up another one (to help one of my clients with his main site), but I will do it very differently. Lesson learned.

john says

Free can cost you a lot.

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