In my consulting work with small business owners, it always surprises me when an owner chooses not to have a website. Often it is because they use social media - usually Facebook - as their online presence. Is this a good idea? It’s a fair assumption, after all social media pages reach millions of potential customers, are essentially free to use, and not difficult to set up and maintain. But let’s consider some of the drawbacks to this strategy.
1. EVER CHANGING SOCIAL MEDIA TRENDS
Do you remember MySpace? Once thought of as the answer to the personal web presence, it was quickly swallowed up by Facebook. So, what about Facebook? Isn’t it the gorilla of social media? It can’t be going anywhere soon. Well, not if YouTube and Instagram have anything to say about it.
The point is, when you rely on social media for your web presence, you are at the mercy of social trends, and you risk having to start over every time there is a shift in algorithms, rules, and the whim of the masses.
Having a website means you are in control of the content and the message. Your message on your terms.
2. YOUR CUSTOMERS EXPECT IT
That’s right, your customers, even your loyal ones that have been shopping with you for years, expect you to have a website. For consumers, a website offers several conveniences ranging from product/service information to details such as hours of operation and location. Expecting your customers to pick up the phone and call for answers to these basic questions is can be a show stopper.
But your hours and location are listed on your Facebook page - that should be enough, right? Sorry not good enough. Consumers don’t want to look up your Facebook page to find basic information. Today’s consumers expect convenience and when you make simple tasks difficult, you will lose them.
3. YOU CONTROL THE MESSAGE
The more you grow your followers on social media, the more you risk negative posts. That is true for any business and, although disheartening to read, negative comments are just part of an interactive platform. All companies deal with this issue, but the difference between a company with a website and one that relies on only social media is balance. Having the keys to your website means you can fill the pages with engaging content and testimonials from your loyal fans. Control equals balance.
4. THE POWER OF GOOGLE
When properly optimized, your website can be prominently listed on a Google search – the ultimate prize. And while it is true that your Facebook page can also be found through a web search, it just doesn’t provide the same search control as a website. There’s that word again, control. Your website gives you the control to customize your content to match the phrases your customers are most likely searching for. Facebook – or any social platform – just can’t compare on searchability.
5. COMPLETE DIGITAL STRATEGY
Think of your website as your gatekeeper to your online strategy. It is the landing place of all your digital efforts – including social media. The goal of digital marketing is to move your customer to your website. Whether it is an email message, a content piece (such as a blog post), or a social post, your goal is to lead the visitor to your page where you control the message and have the best opportunity to convert them to a paying customer. When you leave out the most important aspect of a digital marketing strategy (your website), you are missing your biggest opportunity.
I hope you can see that while participating in social media is definitely a good use of your time and energy, it isn’t enough to replace the power of a website. To create a true digital business presence, a well-designed website is simply not negotiable. Bottom line - it puts you in CONTROL!