What is Digital Sharecropping
An astute social scientist and author named Nicholas Carr coined the phrase "digital sharecropping" in 2006. Until recently, no one paid any attention to what he had described so well all those years ago. Let us get it directly from him :
"By putting the means of production into the hands of the masses but withholding from those same masses any ownership over the product of their work, Web 2.0 provides an incredibly efficient mechanism to harvest the economic value of the free labor provided by the very, very many and concentrate it into the hands of the very, very few."
So there you have it. Since you may not have understood the true essence of what Carr says, let us take a moment to dissect his theory. Carr believes that by visiting Facebook, Twitter and thousands of social media websites, we are giving away a valuable part of our intellectual property and getting absolutely nothing in return. Remember that when you visit social media websites and post on their walls, groups and forums , they and not you own the content. According to Carr, it is users and business owners like you who have transformed mere website wireframes into lucrative Internet properties that are worth billions. You Tube sold for $1.65 billion with a big B in 2006 and Ibibo sold for $800 million with an equally big M not too long ago. You don't have to be a Rhodes Scholar to figure out from where the valuations were derived. The price tags were printed by you and millions like you who gave away their intellectual property and received nothing in return.
Digital Sharecropping and the Online Entrepreneur:
As an online maverick who either believes in the power of live chat software or who deploys it on a website to address customer needs and stimulate growth through active social engagement, you already recognize the critical importance of two-way communication. This is essentially what Web 2.0 is all about. Unfortunately, the ultimate power to dictate terms does not rest with you. It rests with those who own and manage these Internet social media properties. It doesn't take more than a couple of violations for your account to be suspended on these social media websites. As a potent extension of your online marketing strategy, you should use social media not as an end but as a means. Use social media to drive traffic to your website, to your e-mail newsletters and your corporate blogs. Build your pages in such a way that all your marketing collateral is managed and controlled only by you and not an operator in a developing country who experiences a major challenge merely reading your fan page and attempting to make logical sense of what you are trying to say. Equally important is the recommendation that Carr and Internet gurus such as Jeff Johnson and Darren Rowse, both of whom where unceremoniously shut down by You Tube, have made, namely, that you should maintain active backups of everything you post on social media websites to promote your online company or activity.
The first word on Digital Sharecropping:
It may be a jungle out there but the responsibility to protect your turf rests with you. You should exercise caution at all times when posting to your social media accounts either on walls or on forums by reading the terms and conditions statements thoroughly. Be proactive and you will be able to derive the maximum benefit from social media presence without having to put all your eggs in a single cyber basket.