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Why SAP is a Landlord and Most of Us are Renters

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Do you own social media channels?

Think again, chances are you are simple renting a presence but somebody else is making the rules. Hence, one of the trends in social media marketing in 2015 is a turn to truly owned vs. rented social channels.

Evidence #1:

In a hotly debated report, Nate Elliott, a Forrester Research analyst stated that:

“Facebook will become nothing but a repository for display ads”.

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What caused him to make such a contentious statement?

According to Mr. Elliott, top brands’ Facebook and Twitter posts only reach around 2% of their fans and followers, and less than 0.1% of fans and followers actually interact with each post on average.

And recent FB tweakts have made it even less likely that brands unpaid posts will actually be seen by users. As a result, marketers hoping to interact with consumers online  might be better off investing in social features that exist on their own websites, or in smaller, more niche social networks, Mr. Elliott said.

“It’s time for marketers to start building social relationship strategies around sites that can deliver value.”

Based on Forrester’s research, Mr. Elliott urged marketers to think carefully about the ways they’re spending their money on social efforts, and to recognize that Facebook and Twitter are not what they used to be from a brand perspective.

”While they’ll continue to collect billions in display ad revenues, they’re just not the most important sites for social marketers anymore.”

Evidence #2:

In 2014, Eat24 wrote an infamous letter to Facebook to “break up with them”. 

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The reasons stated were  similar to Nate Elliott’s: Facebook changed the rules of the game along the way. It’s their prerogative as the owner of the platform. Still, it left a bad taste…and made Eat24 leave. 


…companies are getting tired of renting social media channels.

While Twitter accounts, LinkedIn pages and Facebook pages are often called “owned media”, they are really not.

In the HBR blog, Making Sense of Owned Media – published in October 2014, Mark Bonchek writes:

“If social media were truly owned, brands would have control over the experience, access to their fans, and full use of the data.”

Let’s be honest, the reality is quite different:

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Public social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter don’t enable brands to access their own data. And “Facebook now charges brands to reach their own fans and followers.”

What Are Your Options?

Think about what you CAN own and try to own it.

Mark Bonchek says “Think Content, Community & Context”.

1. Content

  • Examples include your website, catalogs & newsletters as content channels. Also, your stores and mobile apps.

2. Community

  • Communities emphasize the connections your customers have with each other. Yes, it takes a huge investment to establish a flourishing community, but long term, you are your own landlord and control the terms.

3. Context

  • Earned and paid social media create a purely transactional relationship between you and your audience.
  • How can you turn these isolated interactions into a connected experience? By turning the data you capture into value for the customer. The key word (and huge buzz word) here is Customer Experience.
  • You can shape it much more easily when you truly own vs. rent the real estate. Examples here are loyalty and reward programs for B2C, and Influencer programs for B2B companies.

The bottom line:

you don’t own accounts hosted on external social networks, you only rent them. And access to data is limited. If it meets your goals and  you have the resources, consider creating your own social media community, one where you have access to and can analyze all the data (and content), without fear of you landlord changing the terms. 

What are your views on owning vs. renting social channels? 

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      Author's profile photo Andy Silvey
      Andy Silvey

      Hi Natascha,

      happy new year and all the best for 2015.

      Agree  with the main points, we must all not forget, when everybody loved Facebook, Facebook had different commercial pressures than the ones it has today, quarterly reporting etc. Facebook is a business too. And, there's no such thing as a free lunch.

      To answer your question:

      What are your views on owning vs. renting social channels?



      I need a Social Media Expert

           who will lead the strategy for social media - FB, Twitter etc

           who will post to those channels

           work with Sales and Marketing

           work with Product Management

           harness and exploit those channels to the benefit of the company


      I need to build the infrastructure

           I need to build a Facebook and a Twitter

           I need a mountain of Developers

           I need a mountain of servers

           I need Project Managers

           I need Operations Teams to keep the thing running

           I need incident management, you know it's embarressing if my community crashes

           etc etc

      I need to run the Channels

           I need Teams of content administrators

           I need Managers

      I need to Have a strategy for the Channels

           I need a Team of people to run this whole show

           Work with Sales and Marketing

           Work with Product Managers

           Work with the infrastructure Teams for the Channels

      Then I need a Senior VP to own it.

      I need all that to be a success


      how much will owning cost compared to renting ?

      Will owning be a success ? Will owning be more successful than renting ?

      Best regards,


      p.s. it sounds like eat24 wanted to have their cake and eat it 🙂