Why would a small business want a website if they are already on Facebook?
I was talking to someone the other day and mentioned that I make software for people that want to do their own websites. Their question was, “Why would I want a website?” If you type that question into Google you’ll find dozens of articles with titles like “21 reasons you need a website” or “Why you MUST have a website today.” I read through those articles and virtually everything I read is out of date.
Times have changed.
My friend responded, “I don’t need a website. I am already on Facebook.
” This got me thinking and was why I googled all those other articles. As I read through the reasons, things like: “To have an online brochure”. Well .. that’s also true about Facebook. You can certainly tell people what your business does on a facebook page. “Announcing new products.” Check. Also true. There are lots of businesses doing just fine with just social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc). When someone says, “What’s your website address?” In today’s world it is ok to answer, “I’m on Facebook.”
After thinking about it, there are some critical reasons why virtually every small business MUST
have a website. I’m obviously prejudiced, but .. if you keep reading I predict you’ll agree.
First off: I’m not going to try to answer the question of “What is better?” It’s the wrong question to ask. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, etc – all are important, and all are worth your time. All of these represent an unimaginably inexpensive way to reach your customers. A more relevant questions might be, “If someone is interested in something I sell, how easy do I want to make it for them to find me?”
There’s an old saying, “If you want to get hit by a truck, you got to be willing to lie in the road.” Your goal is to be in front of your customers. Work under the assumption that they won’t come to you. Imagine each of them as a truck. They travel different highways (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc), and they get there by different routes. You can choose one road to lie in, or a lot of them. If you are happy with the number of customers you have, then perhaps one source of traffic is fine. But, many businesses make 100% of profit on the last 10% of their revenue. The more roads you lie in, the more likely customers will find you.
Who’s customers are they?
When you are reaching your customers via someone else’s website, are they really your customers? Do you know how to contact them? Can a “rules change” suddenly remove a big chunk of your customer base? Can a competitor, simply by sharing similar content on social media have the same access to your customers that you do? Are there things you want to share with your customers, or a subset of your customers, that you don’t want to share with the world? I am a huge fan of social media, and feel it is critical in a marketing strategy, but also feel it is important to be a “Master Of Your Own Destiny.” You do not want to be in a position where some third party you have never met is making decisions that impact your relationship with your customers. There needs to be some corner of the universe that is yours alone.
Control your image
Presentation is important. The world has shifted. Advertising is not the center-piece of your marketing effort that it once was. This is a two-edged sword. It is good that exposure on the web can be had for free (via postings on social media) but it is bad that such a high percentage of this exposure is outside your control. Sharing something on social media is like going out into the world without looking in the mirror first. A big chunk of the time, you have no idea how it will be showcased, what else will be shown on the page with it, what advertisements for competitor’s products will be placed next to your carefully crafted message, etc. The beauty of a website is that you get to approve it first. It’s your corner of the universe that you can own. You decide what goes there. You decide whether there will be advertising. You decide the image you want to present to the world.
If you aren’t there, how can your customers see you?
Some social media sites show up on search engines, some don’t. Sometimes, your content (videos, pictures) rates high enough to rank in search engine search results, and sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t know what business you are in, or what service you offer, so it is hard to generalize. But, imagine you create an amazing video that showcases your product. You put in on Vimeo or Youtube, or Facebook. Maybe your customers will find it and maybe they won’t. Or, maybe they’ll see it for a few days and then it will be shoveled off to some archive. Whereas when someone comes to your website, you make the decisions about what appears, where it appears, how much emphasis to give it, and even when it disappears. The best video in the world accomplishes nothing when your customers don’t see it. And, counting on it showing up in Google’s search results is putting your future in the hands of some algorithm deep in a computer you’ve never seen. Once again, there is nothing wrong with this. Take all the business referrals you can get. But, are you really willing to bet the ranch on something outside your control?
The bottom line: We live in a world where websites are cheap and easy. My company provides do-it-yourself websites that are only $5/month, all in. And, if you don’t need all the power and flexibility we offer, there are great solutions you can find that are free (and, worth every penny!). But, whether it is with us (Talkspot) or someone else, I strongly suggest you do not depend JUST on social media for your future.