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The Difference between a Website and Web Presence

In organizing and preparing content for your website, think about the difference between your website and your web presence. Your website is something you create yourself. You design it. You choose the content. You find a host for it.

That said, your website is probably not going to be the only online presence for you, your organization, product, cause, or company. Your website will likely exist in a larger milieu that constitutes your web presence, and that larger milieu might well include videos at YouTube, a photo gallery at Flickr, social networking at LinkedIn or Facebook, or a blog at WordPress.

In thinking about how your website fits into this big picture, keep in mind that you have qualitatively more control over how people connect with you, your content, and your project when they’re at your website.

In your own website, content isn’t framed with context-sensitive ads for products that are selected and delivered via Facebook or YouTube. Information gleaned from searches people perform on your website doesn’t get marketed by Google (unless you sign up for a Google search tool that turns that information over to them).

And, in your own website, your color scheme isn’t selected from a handful of themes you share with 9 million other people. Plus, your own website allows you to put together a whole, unified presentation of your product or message — all in one place.

Here are a few examples of how people or organizations handle the relationship between an online presence, across all kinds of venues, and their own website. Musician Miley Cyrus promotes her videos on YouTube.

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And that YouTube web presence includes YouTube-provided content, including suggestions that viewers check out videos by other artists. On the other hand, Miley Cyrus’s own site features only her content.

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Others use Facebook for a web presence, like the Oakland Raiders football team.

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That presence takes advantage of features the Raiders might feel they need, like being able to have and connect with Facebook friends. At the same time, being on Facebook presents ads that aren’t defined by the Raiders, and forces the Raiders to work within a format that includes preset features (like “Friend Activity”) that might not necessarily work well with what the Raiders are trying to project.

The Raiders’ own website, on the other hand, presents their own content, and they have complete control over what is on that page and what is not.

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There are major advantages to building a website of your own, where you — not YouTube, Facebook, or another venue — frames your content. Still, there are also good reasons to take advantage of online presence options, including YouTube and Facebook.

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