Building a Business

I’m in a totally new world for me. I’m building a business.

So, I’m trying to read and listen to everything I can about doing that and the advice is all over the place. I’ve been doing the work, I’m trying to get people to hire me to do for them, for nearly 20 years, so I know what I’m doing on that end. But the business… that nebulous what’sit that lurks in the shadows of success, failure, subsistence, bankruptcy, and notoriety – I feel clueless sometimes.

I just read this one though – building a business on an API call – and I’ve got some thoughts there.

As I’m doing the social networking consulting I could use any of a passel of different tools that grab the statistical data from places like facebook and twitter. I could use third-party content schedulers and monitors. Here’s what I know. Every single one of those is using the Facebook, Twitter, etc API (Application Programing Interface). As Joseph Puopolo writes in his article, you’re one change in the Terms of Service from insolvency. If you rely on a tool that relies on everyone in the social networking world to play fair, you’re fooling yourself. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use API based tools or an API for a product or service. Heavens no! I’m a fan! But simply putting a new wrapper on some existing data doesn’t make a business.

Last week I got the call from Google’s Wildfire App sale’s force. They found me and reached out to sell me their service. the people's eyebrowThe app looks great! It handles your scheduling, monitoring, analytics and the interface looks easy to use. It would be an ideal tool for me to manage the posts and reporting of tens or hundreds of clients. $42-grand/year would take care of that. (notice my dubiously raised eyebrow)

Of course I’m not paying that much for a tool like that in this stage of my business, but I flied it away for future reference. Then when I stopped to think about it for a minute I thought,

“What if Facebook or Twitter change their API?”

“What if the algorithms change again (as they do constantly) and my posts scheduled through this app stop getting noticed?”

“What if I suddenly can’t access the reports I’ve built for my clients and I’ve got a deadline?”

That’s the spirit and intent of the techcrunch article. The tools aren’t bad things. They can be very good and useful. They can save you a ton of time. API’s are great ways to get data out of one environment, parse through it, and put it in another environment. Don’t build your business on it. I do know that much.

Brian Atkinson

Brian has extensive experience running digital departments and teams in non-profit and for-profit organizations, including marketing and communications, higher education, and information technology. Specialization in social media and frequent presenter at conferences and seminars on the strategic use of different communication styles to reach a new generation of constituents. And I have a lot of t-shirts.

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