Ow.ly - Shorten urls, share files and track visits - which is handy, I like :)
I got a Facebook message reply from Lisa the other day that asked, "what’s the point of having a fucking website?" Then a couple of days later I read Michael Brandvold’s well written and informative Music Think Tank article, How To Use Facebook & Twitter With Your Official Website, Case Study Kissonline.com. Coincidence?
I referred Lisa to my 101 Reasons Why Your Band Needs A Website, but I’m thinking that I wrote it ages ago and it needs a bit of updating and some more explanation:
Firstly, I think many people are somewhat confused about the definition of a Website. Simply, a website is a set or group of web pages that are linked together by a common domain name (URL, e.g: Facebook.com), it is hosted on a web server(s) and it is usually owned by one person (partnership, business, company etc.). So, your Facebook page, MySpace page etc., are all part of someone else’s website. MySpace isn’t YourSpace, it’s Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation’s space. By relinquishing web ownership, you also give up your potential advantage. I do say in ‘101 Reasons…’, "Owning a website shows credibility, control and professionalism; and if you want to be taken seriously by the music industry, you need a website." But let’s get real, there’s nothing professional about owning a website anymore, every self-employed person who comes to our house (gardener, window cleaner, my wife’s hairdresser etc.) has got one; and there is especially nothing professional about having a website and directing the visitors to a social networking website. It is the way you use your website that makes you look professional. I will go further and say, "it is very possible for an ordinary, mediocre musician to succeed because of the way they make use of their website." For instance, if we miss the window cleaner, we can pay him online (+10% and maybe give him a tip)!
Ownership is a key to your success. You own the ©copyright of your website and the Contents therein; that is important, because when you join a social networking website you share your copyright by accepting their terms and conditions. Meaning: subject to your privacy settings, you will grant them a limited worldwide license to use any Content that you post on their website. But, it’s not only about intellectual property rights, you also have to behave accordingly. When you own the website, your only limitation is you yourself.
"A website is for business." Most of the social networking websites allow an element of ‘free’ e-commerce, but that’s it; however there’s more to doing business than selling a few downloads or T-shirts. The real business of a website is achieved by Understanding Your Website’s Statistics (numbers of social networking: page views, comments and friends are all meaningless); it will enable you to target your ‘fans’ more accurately. Every time someone visits your website, their (Internet client software) browser talks to your server’s software, and passes on vital information about that visitor and what they are doing on your website, like: what page the visitor entered and exited; information that is not available from your social networking pages. Typical stats information would be: Unique Visitors (maybe sign-up details. Inf. gained from cookies [can be inaccurate]), Page Views (number of page impressions), Referrers (who links to you and how much traffic they send), Search Strings (what words people are using to find you in the search engines) and Traffic Data (sites, IP addresses, users, geographical, what browser, etc., it can be all tech stuff like visit timeout - handy if you know how to interpret it!). If your web hosting service only provides basic stats, try Google Analytics, they’re free.
Websites and web business can be about small percentages (remember all the fuss about ‘the long tail’?). Social networking sites never allow you to gain online advertising revenue generated by ad serving applications like Google AdSense and affiliate links, actually what they are doing is cutting into and reducing Your online advertising revenue - they become a competitor!
Lastly, IMHO, MySpace went into rapid decline in ‘07 with the introduction of msplinks. Added as a security measure, msplinks filter outgoing links by using a redirect to help prevent and warn against spam, phishing, etc., of course it also prevents users from posting links in MySpace comments to promote their websites and increase their search engine ranking! It is taking the emphasis away from promoting your website (if you had one) Lisa, and that’s my gripe, your website should always be at the top of the promotion, marketing pyramid, with your many social networking pages forming the foundation. As for forwarding or redirecting your URL toward your social networking profile page? Lisa that is Bollocks. Promote yourself, not MySpace, Facebook or whoever!
Point your social networking traffic towards your website then branding, building and targeting an audience, fan/customer relations and statistics will all have more of a positive meaning.