You’ve done everything right—you’ve created engaging content, you’ve built up your fan and follower counts, and now you have yourself a passionate community.

But that’s where it ends.

You’ve done nothing to move your biggest fans and followers to a turf that’s your own and not rented from the likes of Facebook, Twitter, or any other social networking site of the day.

Why is renting a bad thing?

It’s simple, what happens when one of these sites makes a change that limits your ability to reach your contacts?

Take, for example, Facebook’s News Feed algorithm. At any given moment, only a small percentage of your fans actually see the updates that come from your Facebook Page. After all the work you’ve done to build up your fans, Facebook gets to decide who sees what. You’re playing on Facebook’s terms.

But wouldn’t you rather play on your own terms?

If you’ve been treating social networking sites like Facebook as the destination for your marketing rather than a gateway to the assets you own—like your blog, website, and your permission-based email contact list—you’ll always be restricted by the rules of your landlord.

How do you take ownership of your contacts?

In order to make the most of these social networks you’ll need to think in a more holistic manner. Focus on using all your online marketing resources to bring fans and followers to your turf.

Continue as you normally would by engaging your fans and followers on these different social networks, but on occasion, offer something special in exchange for someone joining your email list. This could be a sweepstakes, a coupon, or a perhaps a special report.

This exchange puts you in control

Use social networks to bring people to your email list so you can take full ownership of your contacts. Use your email list to encourage people to connect on your social networks so you stay top of mind and reach their friends through social interaction.

This leads to the cycle repeating itself, growing your social networks and your email list at the same time.

There’s a new landlord in town

You’ll find that those who take that next step to connect with you on your turf become your best customers and biggest supporters.

And when all your marketing resources are working together to move people beyond the social network and to the next level of connection, you’ll always have control over how and when you connect with your audience.

What about you? How important are your email contacts? Do you find them of more value than your social media connections? Or are they completely different?