Starting a new online venture often goes like this…
- Memorable logo for the business designed? Check.
- Catchy domain name acquired? Check.
- Beautiful website up and running? Check.
… and the next thing you know, you spend all your time promoting your business on Facebook and Twitter, instead of working on your own site.
As many business owners and marketing professionals have found, it is just easier to get engagement with customers, prospects and partners on the big social media platforms than through a typical small business website.
What is a business to do?
Should you spend scarce time and resources promoting your own site, so customers will learn about your business in a way that best reflects the brand?
Or should you go with the flow on Facebook, where promotion is easier, but where the brand of your business is secondary to Facebook’s, and customers easily confuse one business with another?
Everyone has a Facebook page, and they all look the same! And it doesn’t help that Facebook keeps making changes to its algorithms that make “reach” more expensive every time you look.
The IndieWeb is a social web of independent websites.
The IndieWeb has arrived, and best of all, it lets you leverage social media to promote your own site.
Imagine you are finishing up a project for a customer. You created something beautiful for that customer, and, with the permission of the customer, you would like to share a photograph with as many people as possible as the picture is great for promotion.
If your website has IndieWeb support, you only need to post the photograph to your own site, and the IndieWeb does the rest.
Your site will automatically publish the same post – adjusted for formatting – to all the social media sites you configured earlier: it will show up on your Facebook page, your Twitter account, on Instagram, etc.
The post comes with a link that points back to your company’s website, inviting the reader to visit your site.
But it doesn’t stop there. Some people will Like the photo on Facebook. Some might comment on Twitter or Instagram. As soon as they do, their content is fed back to your website, through Bridgy (more on that below).
So if you get 10 reactions on each social media site, you get 30 or 40 on your own site, putting the action back on your site while your brand!
If you then interact with any one of those, your comments again will also show up, as comments, in the right conversation, on the corresponding social media site.
The IndieWeb saves you time.
You don’t need to log into Facebook to find out whether somebody commented on your post: all reactions are right back at your site.
Importantly, with IndieAuth, you can log into third-party websites using your own domain name. And your visitors can log into your website with their domain name. Or, if you organize events, you can post your event announcement right on your website, and have attendees RSVP either from their own IndieWeb sites, or natively on a social site.
The IndieWeb was born out of frustration.
Frustration from software developers who like the idea of social media, but who do not want to hand over their content to some big, unaccountable internet company that unilaterally decides who gets to see what.
Frustration from writers and content creators who do not want a third party between them and the people they want to reach.
Frustration from researchers and journalists who need a way to get their message out without depending on the whim of a big company that monitors, and sometimes censors, what they have to say.
When software developers get frustrated, they tend to go off and write some code, invent some new protocols and share what they created with other developers. Others join in and a movement is born.
This is exactly what happened in the time since the first IndieWebCamp in 2011.
Since then, core developers have built out various ways to implement IndieWeb, and you’re invited to help.
IndieWeb cofounder Tantek Celik explains in this 2014 the generations of supporters taking this work to a broader audience. Have a look and see if you can be part of the next wave advancing these alternatives to siloed social networks, and see IndieWeb in action.
Indiewebify your website and watch the magic happen!
It’s an easy four-step process:
- Set up your own website, with your own domain
- Link your site to your social media profiles
- Add some key IndieWeb functionality
- Connect your site to brid.gy
Let’s break that down.
Set up your own website, with your own domain, and your own brand.
You probably have one already. While an IndieWeb site can run most types of website software, it is easiest if you use WordPress, because IndieWeb plugins and themes are available. (You can also use Known, which has native IndieWeb support.)
Link your site to your social media profiles.
rel=me links from your site to social media profiles that you would like to leverage for reach. If you are using the WordPress IndieWeb plugins, simply enter the URLs in the plugin’s control panel.
For example, if you have a Facebook page and a Twitter account for your business, add hyperlinks to those from your site, and back from those social media sites to your site.
This indicates to the rest of the IndieWeb that your site, your Facebook page, and your Twitter account all are about the same company (or individual). This is also necessary for security.
Add some key IndieWeb functionality.
In particular, support for webmention. Webmention is a simpler but more powerful version of Pingbacks that you might be familiar with. Webmention enables your site to tell somebody else’s site that you posted something about their content on your own site.
Think of it as distributed blog comments on steroids.
Connect your site to brid.gy
Built as open-source by members of the IndieWeb community, brid.gy connects the IndieWeb to the big social media silos like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram and Flickr.
While you might be familiar with some social network auto-posting plugins, Brid.gy connects in both directions: not only do posts on your site automatically show up on social media sites, but all comments, Likes, and Retweets automagically show back on your own site.
It is as if Facebook, Twitter and all the rest are plugging into your own website, promoting your brand instead of theirs!