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The country of you

One of the first things I run into when building a website for someone who's never had one before is explaining the difference between setting up a server and building a website.

"Your server is your physical location," I tell them. "Think of it as the plot of land you bought to set up your store. To the county or state, it's Division so-and-so, Plot such-and-such, but nobody uses that for a business address, they use 124 E. Nowhere Lane. Same thing with website: The IP address of your site may be, but the way people find you is by going to www.yourstoreonline.com."

People get this, as it takes the tangible and extends it into the realm of the intangible. Which is why I like this description of how social media works with your existing website. (Courtesy of Don on Twitter).

The basic idea was that instead of always trying to use social sites to bring the web to you, you should see social media as a way to bring your brand to the web outside your site.

The theory breaks down to three concepts.
  1. Home Bases are places online that you own like a website.
  2. Outposts are places you don’t own, but where you can build and maintain an online presence
  3. Passports are credentials for being able to get into outposts.
I like the term "embassies" and "home countries" rather than "outposts" and "home bases" as social media sites are a small microcosm of your site on another organization's home country, and just like an embassy they serve as an ambassador to your main site inside another culture. Also, just like the real world, if you make your home country unfriendly to visitors, your overseas embassies won't be much help if you want people to visit your country.

“The country of you”