Does Your Business Still Need A Website?
(Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Feburary 2010 as Guest Blog for Palmettbug Digital. It has been modified from its original form.)
If you spend any time on Facebook, doubtless you’ve noticed all the business pages that are springing up. I bet you already “like” several. Restaurants, retail establishments, hotels and numerous others find Facebook a great way to “reach out and touch someone” – currently, over 500 million someones! Given its many functions which allow you to add pictures, events, applications, etc., have we reached a point where your business no longer needs a Website if you have a Facebook page?
I bring this up because I’ve heard both veteran and new small business owners say they think company websites aren’t as important as they once were due to Facebook, and even that they are becoming obsolete! Surprising and even more disturbing is this claim being made by a few self-titled ‘Social Media Gurus.’ My opinion? Wrong on both counts. Websites are considered a necessity, and people expect your business to have one. Period. They’re designed to be an owner-controlled presentation of vital, detailed info about your company that can have multiple sections and pages. Often included also are forms of inbound and two way communication, such as email link, blogs, file transfer protocol, and direct purchase ability. In essence, websites are the primary hub from which your company’s information should flow. They’re your online announcement of ‘Here’s who we are, what we do, and how to reach us.’
Well, you might argue, isn’t that true of Facebook business pages, too? Yes, and there are elements common to both, such as branding considerations, the imparting of key information, and two way communication. The differences between the mediums, however, lie primarily in scope, tone and use. Facebook is all about relationship building through real time exchanges between you and others about your business – an ongoing conversation. Websites are more comprehensive in nature, generally. While Web 2.0 has ushered in more two way communication on websites, most still do not lend themselves as readily to engagement the way a Facebook page does. Regards tone, your website is your business’s formal attire, while Facebook fits nicely into the ‘Business Casual’ category. In today’s business climate, each presence has its own unique value in getting your message to its intended audience. Some ways that each can complement the other include using Facebook to facilitate inbound traffic to your Website, and vice versa, through icon and text links. Also important are considerations of SEO for your website, and Google search rankings and indexing for both, making it easier for customers to find you in the first place. Additionally, many employers block social sites, meaning people can’t access your social media presence while at work. Why, then, would you want this to be your only online presence?
Finally, and most importantly, is a website’s key role in the ownership/control issue of your online business identity. If Facebook is your only presence on the web, then you don’t own your identity – Facebook does. Would you be comfortable with someone else governing your only form of identity online? Of course not.
Did I leave anything out? We’d love to hear your ideas on this topic, as well as how you use each of these mediums to market your business.