Social Media Is Not Owned Media

Social media isn’t owned media. Keep reading. I’ll explain why and give a little free advice.

I could write a huge, theoretical rant about social media and the definition of owned media. Thanks to my pal Elon Musk, I don’t have to.

Owned media is marketing stuff you fully control:

  • Your website
  • Your email list
  • Your SMS database
  • Your mailing list (if you’re old school)

Assuming you run backups, no one can take any of this stuff away from you. Those emails are yours. That website is yours.

Your email list may be spam. Your website may be a pile of AI-generated trash. But you own ‘em.

You don’t own your social media audience. You don’t have a social media “list.”

I’ve got proof. On Twitter (not X), I had an audience of about 30,000 people. Of them, 5,000 were what I’d call “engaged.” They read the stuff I posted. They didn’t respond with “bUy mY cryPTo nOw” or “LOL you suck.” Sometimes, they clicked and read stuff.

Here, have a look. Even after I left Portent and began to fade into obscurity, when I wrote and posted, people came:

Traffic bursts from Twitter

Then came the Elonapocalypse. Twitter becomes X, completes its descent into a swirling poopile, and my audience starts to jump ship—to anywhere. Or nowhere. Then I got sick of it and left, too.

Of course, I posted an “Ian Has Moved” notification:

How’d that work out, you ask?

As of now, I have 500 Threads followers. And no, audience size isn’t everything. Twitter sent me about 200 visits for this lengthy post. That’s a fantastic engagement rate.

But I don’t get all these nice, happy little bumps anymore. Here’s what I used to get from Twitter:

All those nice traffic bumps from Twitter

Love Threads. Really. But it’s not a steady traffic generator. Yet. It might get there. In the meantime, I’m the old guy at the back of the room, trying to get some attention:


I know stuff.

I can help…


The Solution: Use Earned Media To Grow Owned Assets

If I’d been smart, I would’ve gently guided my dozens of faithful fans from Twitter to a fact-stuffed email newsletter.

I would have used earned media to grow owned media.

Then, when the Ben Shapiro of Jay Gatsbys threw garbage on my favorite platform, I could’ve smoothed the transition.

My advice to you:

  1. Create a permission-only email list. Not a list of customers. A list of folks who said, “Yes, please tell me cool stuff!!!”
  2. Have a signup on your site. Politely invite visitors to join
  3. Occasionally invite folks on your various social channels, too
  4. Remind everyone you’re there. Every month or two, send a few great pieces of self-contained, bite-sized content to folks every now and then
  5. Continuously, meticulously scrub the list
  6. Repeat

Don’t be me.

And yes, all you smartypants, I’m working on a newsletter. Lesson learned.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *