by Roland LaPlante, Senior Vice President and CMO, Afilias

The current revelations about Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data call to attention and illustrate an important drawback to using a Facebook account as your business’ online presence: Facebook knows and sells your customers!

Millions of companies — especially small companies and start-ups — rely on a Facebook account for their online presence. On the surface, it seems like a great idea: it’s free; it’s interactive; lots of prospects have access; and it makes you look savvy.

In the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica meltdown however, business owners are wise to reconsider this reliance on Facebook for 3 reasons:

  1. Facebook owns all the data about your Facebook presence: they collect it, they study it, they package it. They know everyone who “likes” you, all their comments, all THEIR friends, everything!
  2. Facebook shares little of this information with YOU: yes, you can see how many likes you get, but that’s about it. These are YOUR customers, but the information about them is NOT yours—it’s a Facebook asset. Remember the adage: if the product is free, YOU are the product.
  3. Facebook will sell your customers to your competitors: Your competitors can target YOUR customers with ads. If your competitors buy this service, they can put ads in front of your customers whenever your customers log into Facebook. Do you want your customers to be precisely targeted by your competitors?

The easy, affordable and sustainable alternative is to buy and operate your own domain name and put up your own website. Today, there are over a thousand alternative “extensions” to meet your needs. If you want to show information, choose a .info site; if you are a professional, choose a .pro; if you are a club, choose a .club — domain names today include many descriptive terms and categories within them to help customers find and remember you.

For less than $50 a year, you can easily recapture control of your online identity and fate of your data with a domain name.

Many online domain name retailers also have the tools to assist customers of any aptitude and experience with the process – easy website builders, email services and other tools – to help you get a credible, useful internet presence that YOU own (not Facebook). You’ll get all the data about your visitors, and they will be protected from Facebook’s data mining and selling practices. With your own domain name and site, you don’t need to worry about Facebook collapsing or changing their policies in a manner which takes you off-line (remember myspace or friendster?).  Your online presence should be in your control, not theirs.

These Facebook revelations are a good reason to IMMEDIATELY review your approach to online presence and make sure it serves YOU, and not Facebook and your competitors.

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