A quick recent scan of my Feedly made me stop and ponder this question: will 2014 finally be the year brands figure out that they must focus, first and foremost, on building communities and engaging audiences on digital properties they fully own and control? It certainly should be.

These headlines point to the reason why:

PRNewser: Does Everyone Else Hate These Facebook Changes As Much As We Do?

AllFacebook: Why Your Facebook Page’s Organic Reach Will Decline

Ignite: Facebook Brand Pages Suffer 44% Decline in Reach Since December 1st

Bloomberg Businessweek: Facebook’s News Feed Suffers From the Banality of the Crowd

In summary, Facebook’s latest changes to its News Feed algorithm have decreased the organic reach of content shared by brands–dramatically in most cases. This means companies that have spent thousands of dollars to obtain Fans on the platform are now largely unable to reach them without forking over even more cash in order to do so.

Certainly, Facebook’s got every right to make such changes–and therein lies the rub. Far too many brands have put themselves at the mercy of third-party platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. by making them the focal point of their digital strategies.

Back in March at SXSW, Southwest Airlines’ Brooks Thomas talked about the notion of “rented” versus “owned” digital properties and how Southwest uses its blog and website as its primary content hubs. Thomas said the airline views platforms like Facebook and Twitter (“rented”) as channels to be used to bring people back to its hubs.

Why don’t more brands follow this model? Perhaps it’s because it is far more difficult to build an audience from scratch via a blog or website and most don’t have the patience. Maybe it’s a fear of being left behind as competitors rush into the latest platform du jour. Perhaps it’s something else entirely.

Either way, until more brands realize that third-party platforms simply should not be the central focus of their digital strategy, we can expect the headlines and hand-wringing to continue after every major change made by Facebook, Twitter and the like.

Tell us what you think in the comments!

This post originally appeared on The Access Point.