One of the things we are most surprised by when we look at small businesses is how many of them don’t have a website.
Considering that over 600 million people visit Facebook daily, you may think:
“Isn’t a Facebook page really all anyone needs anymore?”
Actually, no! There are still plenty of important reasons why a traditional website is still essential, even in the era of social networks. Without question a Facebook page can add value, but it doesn’t replace the value of a website. Here’s why:
1. Lack of Ownership
As Facebook is free, you’re literally at Facebook’s mercy. You’re playing in someone else’s sandbox and you can be told to go home at any time. Facebook doesn’t owe you anything and their interests aren’t necessarily your best interests. When going social, you have to remember that companies don’t actually own their Facebook page or followers. The presence you build belongs to someone else.
With social networks often changing their Terms of Service (yes, we’re looking at you Facebook), business pages can be taken down without notice – even if they have thousands of fans. If you invested time and resources to drive traffic to that page, this will come as a huge loss to you.
If you’re looking for full control, then building a company website is a better alternative. It’s yours — you own it and no one can take it away. We often advise against putting too many eggs in Facebook’s basket, as you are basically building your brand/company on rented land – which can be unpredictable.
2. Not SEO driven.
It’s very challenging to optimize a Facebook page for search engines. Thanks to Google, ‘search, search, search‘ has become the new ‘location, location, location’. If customers can’t find you on Google, you might as well not even exist. Marketers are unable to apply SEO techniques to a Facebook page, but with a website you can increase your chances of getting Google’s attention – and ultimately being found by your customers.
3. No ultimate destination for customer traffic.
When someone goes to Google and searches your business, where would you rather have them land? On your website or on a Facebook page? Social networks are no doubt very popular, but search engines still take the cake as the most common way people look for information online. Your website can be a consistent place on the Internet to be easily linked to; it’s better to have traffic go to your own website than your (temporary) home on Facebook.
4. It’s not all about you
You have to compete with customers’ friends and other companies vying for your prospective customer’s attention on Facebook. This means you don’t have their full attention and you can’t control their experience. Or what if a competitor’s ad appears right next to your latest post?
5. Nothing lasts forever.
Today, Facebook is a social giant (half a billion people can’t be wrong), but many other social networks have come and gone through the years. Remember MySpace? Friendster? Someday, Facebook may fall out of favour with users. If your Facebook audience moves onto the next big social network, you’re faced with having to rebuild your audience all over again. This is why we recommend a website. Social networks is still a great tool to meet new customers and interact with them, but the ultimate goal should be to drive customers to your website.
If you have been putting off creating a website because Facebook is easier, we want you to know they aren’t as hard as they use to be. These days, all you really need is a domain name and WordPress.
6. Not reaching all customers.
Almost everyone accesses the Internet, but not everyone is on Facebook. (Yes, that’s the reality.)
7. A website helps people find you.
Did you know over 85 percent of customers search for companies online. Customers first point of contact with a company is usually their website. Yet many businesses, especially smaller ones, make the mistake of thinking they aren’t large enough to need a website. Whether you have 20,000 or 2 employees, if you’re missing a website you are losing customers to businesses who do. Even when you aren’t at work, your website is. It’s your online location where people expect you to be and expect to find certain company information.
8. Lack of credibility.
Put simply, there’s no substitute for a website when it comes to credibility. With a well-designed and informative website, even your little company can project a professional image of a much larger production.
9. No creative freedom.
In short, a website offers more creative and content freedom. Everything from the layout to the color scheme to navigation, you can design a website that is uniquely you (sky’s the limit). Facebook, on the other hand, allows for bare bones creativity – you can only brand your profile and cover images (and then you are still competing with Facebook’s logo prominently featured at the top and all that blue!). In the end, Facebook’s page layout is too rigid for proper branding.
We love Facebook and believe it is a great social site for businesses looking to engage with customers. However, Facebook should only support your company’s website, not be your ‘home base’. On Facebook, we can’t really complain as we are simply users of the platform and not a customer. Facebook has to answer to their shareholders, not their users.
What are your thoughts?