You don’t own Facebook. You don’t own Google, either.

You don’t own your social media sites, or your search engine rankings. They’re all on rented land.

The money’s in the list. It always has been. It always will be.

Social media is awesome. It’s a tidal wave of traffic and it’s the finest listening tool we’ve ever been given. But putting all your assets in social media (or ANYWHERE that is not controlled by you) is a like getting stock options versus getting cash.

Stock options sound great, but you can’t control what the stock does. Not even if you’re the CEO. Okay, if you’re the CEO, you’ve got some control, but you’re still surfing the market. You aren’t controlling the ocean. You ain’t Poseidon.

Having thousands of Facebook likes and Twitter followers looks good too. But you can’t control what Facebook does. One policy change, and your Facebook assets go poof. And things change online.

Doubt me? One word: MySpace.

You don’t control what Google does, either. I don’t even have come up with a colorful metaphor for this. Two words: Panda. Penguin. Oh, and all the money you put into AdWords every month.

So for all that lack of control, what do you have?

You’ve got your list. You control that.

If you were a good girl or boy, you even got them double opted in, so you can prove when they signed up, and when they said again that they wanted to hear form you. It’s locked up.

So long as you keep them happy, you get to keep them. No matter what Google or Facebook says or does.

If you’ve got a list, all your business assets could go poof tomorrow, and you’d still be able to get right back in the game.

Without the list, you’re building a business on rented land.