I first heard about digital sharecropping on Copyblogger. This is when you publish original content on a platform you don’t own like LinkedIn or Facebook. After you click “Publish” or “Save,” the platform takes control of the content you created. Basically, you create the content, but it’s not yours.
For the purpose of this article, “content” includes your LinkedIn posts, summary, job experience, endorsements, recommendations, and everything else on your LinkedIn profile.
To put it in the words of Sonia Simone, the author of the Copyblogger post linked to above:
Anyone can create content on sites like LinkedIn, but that content effectively belongs to LinkedIn. The more content we create for free, the more valuable LinkedIn becomes. We do the work, they reap the profit.
This is the price we must pay for creating a “free” profile and connecting to the millions of professionals across LinkedIn. But if we’re smart, we can leverage the awesome power of LinkedIn without handing over control of our original content.
After accepting these duplicate content myths, take this advice:
Starting now, anything you publish on LinkedIn, publish on your own website.
Also understand this:
You CAN control the fate of content published on a platform you own. You CAN NOT control the fate of content published on a platform you don’t own.
I learned this the hard way.
One Day My LinkedIn Content Vanished Forever
This happened in January 2015 after I upgraded my LinkedIn basic account to a premium account. Here’s the message I sent to LinkedIn’s support team:
I should note that I did not lose everything, but I did lose a lot.
I lost my job experience descriptions, and these descriptions were different from what was on my resume, often offering additional insight to prospective employers. I also lost recommendations from people who loved my work, probably the most devastating content loss. (As a copywriter, I know how impactful other people’s words are when it comes to your reputation.)
Luckily, I didn’t lose the posts I original published on LinkedIn, but rest assured I now take the advice I gave you above: Any content I put on LinkedIn also goes on my website, or, at the very least, gets saved in Google Drive.
After sending that message above, I went back and forth with an incredibly responsive and kind member of LinkedIn’s support team. Unfortunately, though, there was no resolution. The content I lost is lost forever, only in the recesses of my aging memory, if it’s even there at all.
I realize I’m being dramatic, but I think rightfully so, at least for the sake of others. Luckily I’ve never spent too much time crafting original content for my LinkedIn profile, but others definitely have – and still do.
Think of people who absolutely depend on their LinkedIn profile to get new jobs, better opportunities, etc. I have always had a website, but many LinkedIn users who experience “LinkedIn Content Loss” do not. They have to start from complete scratch after losing their profile content – and probably just end up creating a new LinkedIn profile (which is why I wrote this post.)
Bottom Line: First publish to a site you own, then publish to a social platform you do not.
The Irony: You Can Never Completely Control Your Content
I didn’t want to have to mention this unfortunate fact, but, for full disclosure, I must:
Unless you build your own server, connect it to the Internet, and back its contents up with many other servers you own and maintain, you can’t control the fate of your content. And even if you do all this unrealistic stuff, at the end of the day, machines are machines and the Internet is a complex beast. It’s all susceptible to error.
With that said, putting your content on a server managed by a company like GoDaddy (where my content lives) is far superior to putting your content on a social platform, or any platform you don’t pay for. (This includes WordPress.com).
When you own your own content (i.e. pay for a hosting provider), you only have to worry about complete malfunction, which is very rare. And with features like website backup and restoration, it’s very, very unlikely that you’ll ever lose the content you put on your website.
What’s more likely to happen is a social platform like LinkedIn getting bought out and changing direction – and with this change in direction, altering, moving, or completely deleting your content. Also, you can’t create a backup of files on a LinkedIn server because you do not own that server.
Bottom Line: You have NO control of content that lives on platforms you don’t pay for. You have A LOT MORE control of content that lives on platforms you pay for.
Have you experienced LinkedIn Content Loss, or anything similar?
Contact me and I’ll provide a link to your experience below.