Why are you building someone else’s Web 2.0 wealth?

There are many community based sites on the Web2.0… and many of them are private companies, not foundations. While many of them claim to have altruistic motives, sometimes the motivation of money can be much stronger than the notion of building a unique service that helps humanity.

For most users, that’s fine because they don’t really worry about such things. But if you are a webmaster and you’re busy using these websites (e.g. Facebook) to build your brand, draw traffic to your site, or sell products, I have but one question to ask:

Why are you making someone else rich when you should be tilling your own Web 2.0 fields?

This is seriously an issue. It didn’t just affect your social life, it will also impact your business development. I’ll give you three reasons:

1. It’s their field, not yours

Simply put, you are building someone else’s business by submitting content, viewing content, and developing relationships THERE. It’s not building your own brand, business or blog HERE. Facebook’s stock valuation is rising, how is yours doing?

Well, if you put all your time & effort into your Facebook profile, and neglect your own field… there’s not going to be much to harvest come summertime, is there?

Solution: Till your fields, drive traffic from the Web 2.0 to your site, put most of your effort onto your site. Avoid distractions.

2. It’s their game, not yours

Things change, something we all realize. Since the internet first came about, the only constant has been the nature & speed of change. We intrinsically know this. But even within Social Media, things change fast.

Even a simple change in TOS can effectively mean that your business is no longer possible (either outlawed by TOS or made prohibitively expensive). While these kinds of changes aren’t that common, you can just ask those users of services like YouTube, Ebay, AdSense, etc. that have had accounts closed because of changes of TOS, or been forced to close accounts because they can’t continue under the new TOS.

Where service continuity and TOS aren’t issues, you will find that algorithm changes can severely impact your social network performance. Take a look at the feed of your Facebook profile, now compare that to the most recent feed. The same? Hardly. Facebook’s algos regularly pull content from your feed that IT thinks you don’t want to see.

As a user, I find this very regretful. I followed many websites on Facebook because I wanted to stay current with their updates, such as OMGUbuntu, or Agnes b coffee shop, but I rarely see posts from either in my feed. With less viewership, there is less incentive for these websites to post anything new on their Facebook profiles.

No one expects Facebook to be primarily for brands or products, but … we do like to keep up with our favorites, don’t we? Agnes b. for example has over 120k likes… yet on one of its posts, there were 331 likes and 2 comments! I won’t tell how small the % of the interactions is… it’s ludicrously small.

Solution: Look for value on the Social Networks. Sometimes paying to play will provide the answer to your issues (because they need to earn money and discern quality feeds). Consider…

3. Pay to Play

Facebook want you to pay for that access; and you can advertise on their system. For many websites, this is a viable way to go and traffic can be quite good for a reasonable price. I would only suggest you do this to drive traffic to your site.

Obviously, Facebook wants you to drive traffic to your presence on THEIR network. You could do this, too; but I think you will find that there is little point to doing so. One of the ways of doing is to “Boost Your Post” which is activated on selected posts (again, you can’t always choose which post to boost). Check out this post from The Digital Marketer on “The $5 Solution to Your Organic Reach Problem on Facebook” on performance and read the comments. Obviously, there are as many caveats: watch your performance, track your budget, watch for algo changes.

4. Service Outages

First there was Myspace and Friendster. Who uses those nowadays? Now we have Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn. But how long those will be here? Already many apps are forging communities based solely around the phone; it’s already the next big social network.

Now look at the gyrations that happened to Myspace over the years, and consider what happened to Geocities and Friendster? Neither of these sites is now operational. Yahoo! closed Geocities down recently, too.

And Yahoo has a habit of purging sites, services and companies that they do not feel have a future. So, although I use Flickr, I don’t depend on Flickr being available for ever. But I wonder how many people upload their photos to Flickr as their only copy! Stupid, yes. Do people do it? Yes.

But this threat can cut into your business, even when the site doesn’t disappear.  Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube are all evolving media and while at least one of the three is supported by big pockets, you can bet bottom dollar that ALL of these services will depend on being successful on their monetization models.

However, even success there doesn’t guarantee that the business won’t be closed down, limited, restricted, or made premium, by current or new owners at some point in the future.

So, if you value something, always have at least two copies of something: one on your PC, and one on a preserved copy. Just in case you have to deal with a closure.

Now, have I convinced you to start planting your own fields? I hope so. Have you started yet?

Ever seen gold like this? It’s yellow, soft and valuable!

Gold is an exceptionally valuable commodity these days. To show that I already my own ‘stash’ in the bank vault, I’m happy to share this picture of our ‘wealth’.

yellow gold

In the West, I was used to seeing gold used in jewelery purely as one or even the largest component. When I first came to Taiwan, I was astonished how yellow (or ‘gold’) the was, and when I first got my gold wedding ring, how soft the metal actually is when it’s in nearly pure form. Most of the gold sold in China and Taiwan is of this type. Taiwanese especially value gold both for its beauty and its practicality. It’s easy to turn into cash.

Historically, there have been times when gold was perhaps the only store of true wealth here after the 2nd world war, during the tumultuous period of the Chinese Civil War, and so local people have traditionally valued it as a way to hedge their currency, protect their family ‘wealth’, and to carry easily, should the need arise.

I have no idea how much this is worth, but it’s probably not much. Christine received some gold as part of her wedding present, some of which is included here. It’s also traditional for brides and (to a lesser extent) and grooms to wear or flaunt as much gold as they can. Usually, some of the gold is presented to them, some is kept as part of the family wealth, and some may be ‘loaned’ from relatives.

Any idea how much this would be worth? I have my own estimates, but I have no idea how much the gold actually weighs. Perhaps one day, I’ll get it valued properly.

drip, drip, drip – wealth accumulation is silent!

Drip, drip, drip! Is that the sound of rainwater dripping from the guttering? Or is that the sound of your wealth dripping gradually into your account?

We’ve owned a number of different assets and asset classes over the last fifteen year: property, a business, stocks, mutual funds, bonds, bank accounts, etc.. and each of them has prospered over that time in the same fashion – Drip, drip, drip!

In Taiwan, house property is measured per ping. A ping is generally the size of a traditional Japanese tatami mat. Since we purchased our house, we’ve seen our house value increase about 50% or more per ping in seven years. In addition, we were fortunate enough to be able to buy an additional car park. More than that, we’ve spent the last seven years paying down our mortgage slowly. All of these have resulted in a net increase in our equity stake in our house to approaching 60% from the initial 20% at outset. But all of this has been achieved quietly, regularly, and opportunely.

Our business, too, rarely has much excitement, though the students making progress and developing mastery of a complex linguistic system is thrillling. As a business, the mechanics are silent: counting the bills, updating the accounts, paying the bills and taxes, figuring out our profit margin (if there is any!), and so on. There is little hype compared to working for an Internet giant, like Google.

Stocks and mutual funds, too, move up and down silently. They pay (usually) dividends that are paid quarterly into your account. There is little fuss, excitement or pzzazz over the payments, profits, or losses. The numbers just sit there mocking you if you are doing badly, teasing you if you are doing well.

Bonds, CDs and bank accounts pay interest in similar ways: you go into the bank, update your passbook, check your account or renew your CD, and suddenly the interest payments are there. Silently. Mechanically.

There are no whooshing sounds, no zaps of lightening, no cheering or clapping: just the sound of footsteps to the banking machine to pay the regular payments, and to take care of the other regular details. It’s the silent wealth effect. It’s a lot less glamorous, less fun, less attention seeking than winning at Las Vegas on the poker table, getting a jackpot at Atlantic City on the slots, or winning the Lottery.

Which would you rather have – the drip, drip, drip or the heavy thunderstorm of wealth building?