Are You Building on Sand?

Published 2 months ago • 3 min read

Listening to Nothing More’s new single, House on Sand, inspired this issue.

🎶 I built my house on sand, hoping it would stand the storms coming my way, and now I’m left to face the weight of my mistakes and a chance to start again. 🎶

What the hell does this have to do with marketing? Well, you know how every time a platform goes down for a few hours and marketers freak out, most posting “THiS iS yOuR rEMiNdER To nOt bUiLd On rEnTed LaNd”

So many of us post that (I’m guilty), and it’s true, but what’s the point, and what’s the solution?

Since awareness is only the first step, today, we will discuss what the warning about building on rented land means and the actionable steps you can take to build owned properties.

Rented vs. Owned Properties

Rented: platforms, networks, and channels that a business or person does not own full control, like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. Content can be created and shared, but the platform ultimately dictates its policies, reach, algorithm, data, and EXISTENCE.

Owned: properties like a website, blog, email list or app that a business or person owns and has full control over content, design, and audience access.

If you’re new here, I preach a lot about building a solid foundation – in social media, strategy and life.

Are you building sand castles?

Building your presence solely on rented land (social media) is like building on sand. I hate to say it, but those gorgeous houses along the coast (cliffs) of Southern California yield short-term gains but lack long-term sustainability.

The most common objection I hear from clients about owned properties is the cost to build and maintain them, but it’s not a cost; it’s an investment in your presence, audience, data, and longevity.

When you own your properties, you have full control over your content and customer relationships, and you own the data which gives you valuable insights into your audience’s behavior and preferences.

Building on rented land requires an investment, too. Social media professionals, graphic designers, copywriters, photographers, videographers, analysts, creators, and community managers aren’t free, and they’re not a cost – they’re an investment.

Find the balance

Rented properties give you immediate access to large audiences, the ability to reach new customers, increased brand visibility, sophisticated targeting options, and analytics. Rented properties can drive traffic to owned properties and vice versa.

As you know, algorithms can change anytime, and platforms could disappear overnight (RIP Twitter).

By investing in owned properties, you invest in strategies that prioritize long-term relationships and brand loyalty. Recent research shows that acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing one.

Build with purpose

While having owned properties is a great idea and pretty essential, that doesn’t mean you should go out and start beefing up lead gen ads to build your email list, start a newsletter, and launch an app. There still needs to be strategy and intention. Why would someone go to your website? Why would someone want or need to download your app? Why would someone want your newsletter? Sorry, but many brands don’t need newsletters – especially FMCG. A reminder that your content, rented or owned, needs to serve a purpose greater than you.

Prioritize clear objectives, personalized content, and a smooth user experience.

Drive traffic

Promote it – create compelling content that shows the value in a consumer or follower adding themselves to your email list or downloading your app.

Be consistent – you can’t post about your newsletter once a month, purely promotional, and expect everyone to run to sign up. it should be an authentic part of your content strategy.

Entice your audience – sometimes a giveaway or a free digital product will do the trick, as long as it makes sense with what you’re already doing and doesn’t feel like a sleazy way to get someone to sign up – because if you do that you can say hello to increased unsubscribe rates and nobody wants that.

While building on owned properties is crucial, it’s still important to diversify your content across multiple owned and rented properties with a balanced approach. The long-term benefits and ROI of owned properties always outweighs the cost (but it’s not a cost IT’S AN INVESTMENT).

Thank you for being on my owned property, I’d love to have you around my rented properties too.

Chelsea

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Your weekly practical advice, insights and strategic guide to social media, community management, marketing and freelancing. Created from 15+ years of creating bespoke social media strategies and building thriving communities for 150+ clients and 25+ agency partners. My approach is simple: lead authentically, solve problems, connect, and make a difference.

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