When speaking to people about the benefits of a website I have recently heard, “I don’t need a website, I have a Facebook page.” Through some investigating I found they did have a Facebook page, one of them actually very successful! Even with this I still expressed my reservations. I know I have an obviously biased stance on this issue (being a web designer), but with this experience I have to take a few moments and share why this is a mistake.
One big drawback to Facebook is that it doesn’t index very well in search engine results. How often have you Google’d a business/individual and had a Facebook page in the first couple of results? Facebook may have a billion users, but there are still another five billion web users on this planet, many of whom will never hear what you’re saying if you are restricted to that demographic. Think of all the possibilities and opportunities you are missing my limiting yourself to one form of networking.
Another big drawback to the “Facebook only” approach is that Facebook itself isn’t a very user friendly Search Engine. Ever try searching in Facebook for a local pizza place? How about trying to find the name of the restaurant that you pass by every night on the way home from work but can never catch or remember the name of it? If social media is your only presence online, you severely miss out on showing up in any of the many random searches that people do every day.
When I tell people about this third reason, people usually look at me as if I’m crazy. If you watch the news at night, you’ll know that Mark Zuckerberg is not the smartest businessman. Facebook can, and will, go away at any point in time. It is simply one of the many platforms available in Social Media. Social media is all about current trends and many came before Facebook and many will come after. Remember AOL? Remember AOL Instant Messenger? Have you logged in to your MySpace account much lately? In the span of a few short months, MySpace went from being the beacon of social media to being a near laughingstock. If your only existence online is on Facebook (or any social media platform) and it goes away, what does that say about your business?
A final thought also about having a Facebook business page versus a customized website is this: by restricting yourself to the Facebook format you are letting them dictate how you present/represent your business. With a website you can showcase your individuality and why people should buy your services or goods compared to your competitor. Most businesses have a Facebook page but no one will have YOUR BUSINESS’ website, that will always be original.
I’m by no means saying don’t use Facebook or social media. Use it! It’s a great tool to have in your tool belt for marketing your company. What I am saying is we need to be mindful of the way we utilize social media. You need to make sure that your website is the center of your online existence. Bring the users back to your site. More on that idea in an upcoming blog.