Here’s a question I see over and over in one form or another – “Do I really need a website? Can’t I reach just as many people – if not more, with social media?” After all, websites can be expensive and difficult to maintain for the average business owner.
I blame social media professionals for this misunderstanding (yes, I see the irony). In our enthusiasm to encourage people to embrace social media, we may have given the impression that social media is ALL you need. Truth is, it’s not. Here are five reasons why you can’t rely on social media to do the job of a website.
It Can All Go Away
If you look at my blog post, “How to Recover Your Facebook Business Page from Rogue or Clueless Employees,” and scroll down to the comments, you’ll see some sad stories. People who spend years and thousands of dollars to prop up their Facebook page, only to lose it when an employee or agency went bad, or when they broke Facebook’s rules and got shut down. That expression, “Don’t put your eggs all in one basket” applies here.
The Rules Can Change
A few years ago, Facebook was basically a free advertising platform for business. Competition was scarce and updates were seen by a good percentage of fans. Not so anymore! Facebook itself admits the situation is more of a “pay to play” now. That’s fine if you have the budget – but your website, once paid for, is only going to cost about $100 a year in hosting. You could spend that promoting one post on Facebook!
There is nothing to stop Facebook or other social media platforms from charging business owners a fee just to appear on their site. What then? If you are so heavily invested in one platform, you are in a sense being blackmailed to pay in order to survive (see “eggs and basket” above :)).
Where’s the Depth?
If all your business is interested in is creating “engagement” or brand awareness, you could make the case for a social-only presence. However, what about the people who want a centralized location where they can learn all about you? You could create a series of tabs in Facebook, a fabulous profile in Google+, but for people looking for something specific (your portfolio, staff information, job listings), that’s going to get frustrating fast. Also, since timeline came along, apps are largely ignored. Most people see your updates right in their timeline as opposed to going to your page itself.
Audiences Are Fickle
Remember MySpace? Yeah. Even when it’s not an entire platform, changes in demographics can be disastrous to those who have built a business on one site. For example, Facebook. Older people are joining in droves, while teens jump ship for places not frequented by parents and grandparents. Great news for some businesses. Obviously not for others.
Lead Generation – Better Onsite
So far, all my arguments could be ignored by a business investing in many different social media platforms. But, not this one!
Social media is a great support for traffic and lead generation, but that means you must have something to link back to. Sure, you can install a contact form app on your Facebook Page (in my experience these get very little action), but not on Twitter or Google+. How much better it is to share links from your content back to your site.
One statistic I find myself quoting over and over is this: B2B companies that blog report 70% more lead generation than those that do not. To blog, you must have a website. Simple enough.
If you’ve invested heavily in social, you could think of your website as the hub that holds your social media spokes together. Without the hub, you aren’t going anywhere. Lest you think I’m trying to sell you a website, I assure you it’s not our favorite thing to do – we do it when people want to embrace online marketing and have no website (or a poorly optimized and designed site). We’d just as soon get right to the lead generation :).
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- Facebook Admits “Pay to Play” – Should You? (scalablesocialmedia.com)
- Content Ownership – Who Owns That Blog Post? (scalablesocialmedia.com)
- Lead Nurturing – How Does it Work? [Video] (scalablesocialmedia.com)
- Help! I Was Just Put In Charge of My Company’s Social Media Marketing! (scalablesocialmedia.com)