Thinking beyond social media and owning your data


It is hard to imagine a world without the conveniences brought by connectivity and the different platforms we use daily. From entertainment, communication, financial services, dating, and commerce to education, we all have services that add value to our daily lives and fuel our business objectives.

These platforms vary in size, and most have adopted a cloud-first model for services offered and are accessible via a mobile application or other such online property.

Growing in relevance and from their ease of use informed by behavioral psychology and user-centered design sees us upload and access troves of data, driving stickability and a blind assumption, more of an expectation, that these platforms and their services will endure.

Unfortunately, regardless of the size or reach of the organisation behind your favourite platform, access to user-generated content, customer data, market, and audience analytics is not something guaranteed in the long term.

For example, LinkedIn, arguably the most popular professional and career development social network made it possible to export one's connection data, surfacing a rich roster of contacts that included accurate first-party data that can be leveraged beautifully via various lead generation platforms and CRM tools.

Not anymore, at least not with the ease and depth enabled before. Remember that, for a connection, both parties must align, with one making and the other accepting a request.

Then there is Facebook, where many changes to their algorithm have altered organic reach for brands driving the use of their paid offerings for amplification. Twitter is influencer central, with its ability to surface trends and engagement.

For all the individuals and brands that command a healthy following, how many can reach their entire network directly and on-demand? The same goes for TikTok, YouTube, you name them.

While the new movement that is web3 promises to balance out the domination of the internet-based services by centralised bodies and truly democratise the data economy, we cannot deny that at present, we extract immense social-economic value from these platforms both big and small, as they are.

However, the ability to connect with, engage and even monetise customers, followers and fans directly on your terms cannot be understated.

Terms of service and regulations change. Buyouts happen. Shifts in strategy as the business and technological landscape changes are commonplace. Be intentional about migrating your audiences, customers, content and users onto owned platforms and mediums.

Njihia is the head of business and partnerships at Sure Corporation | | @mbuguanjihia