Do I need a website? Won’t my Facebook page do?
A question I often get asked by new or smaller businesses that have yet to take the plunge into the online world, is whether they need to invest in a website or whether a Facebook page is enough for people to find them online.
What isn’t in doubt, is that you need some sort of online presence. Long gone are those days of sifting through the Yellow Pages, instead we turn to our phones or computers. Even if we ask a friend for a recommendation, the next step is to look up the business online and check them out for reviews / location / list of services / credibility* delete as appropriate. It’s hard to remember a time before the internet.
But if, like many new or small businesses, you’ve got limited time and budget, as well as limited knowledge of creating a website, the quickest and easiest thing may be to set up a Facebook page. Job done, move onto the next in your long list. BUT you could be making a huge mistake if you don’t consider a website for your business. Here’s some reasons why a website wins hands down over Facebook for your business.
What’s good about facebook?
- It’s free to set up a business page and it’s very quick.
- ]You are going to where your customers potentially hang out online already, rather than relying on them coming to you by finding you on the search engines. The sheer numbers of people who use Facebook and social media sites mean they can be a great way of accessing new customers.
- It’s an excellent way to engage with your user base, as long as they want to engage with you. It’s very visual and interactive and you can easily share videos, photos and encourage participation and feedback including those crucial reviews.
What are the limitations of facebook?
- Don’t be deceived into thinking that your business is reaching a large audience just because Facebook has a large number of users.
- For a small business it can be very difficult to cut through the noise. The competition for likes and clicks is fierce among businesses. If you show enough value to your customer that they want to hear more about what’s going on with your business they may well “like” your page. That’s great…in the short term. However, if someone begins to grow weary of seeing your posts, doesn’t engage with them and stops visiting your page to learn about the latest goings-on, Facebook will begin to take your posts out of your previously-engaged customer’s News Feed. Once that happens, you need to start paying to promote posts to people who have liked you, or begin advertising (which of course, isn’t free) to engage new users.
- That combined with the regular change of the Facebook algorithms means you need to dedicate a lot of time to understanding these changes and keeping your page fresh in the News Feeds.
- It takes minutes to set up a Facebook page or a Twitter account, and anyone can make one. If your only online presence is a free to use social media account, potential customers may become suspicious of your trustworthiness as a business.
- With Facebook you are you’re dealing with a third-party site. You follow the company’s terms of service, which are continually revised, or risk your account being deleted.
- You have little control over the look and feel of your Facebook page and the space in which you have to promote your content is severely limited. Facebook controls it and can change it at any time.
- Valuable information isn’t always readily available when a user lands on the page. It can take several clicks to find out your phone number or learn a little more about who you are and what you’re about. The navigation and user experience is out of your control.
- Everyone can see how many followers you have and how your page is performing – your statistics can’t be hidden.
- A Facebook page can be found via a search engine, but you have little or no control over the optimisation of the page. Again, you are at the mercy of Facebook and it doesn’t provide the same comprehensive SEO control of a dedicated website.
For these reasons, it is dangerous to see your social media profiles as a good substitute for your own website.
So what are the advantage of your own website?
- First and foremost – you own your website. (You should own your own domain and have the rights to your own website but that is a whole other topic). This gives you complete control over your brand and design and you can create a great user experience throughout that you completely control.
- It acts as a main hub on the web where interested, potential customers can go for all the information they’re looking for.
- Having a professional looking website is a very simple way of boosting your reputation and quickly establishing trust among potential customers. If you don’t have your own website, but your competitors do, potential customers will start to wonder why.
- Your website is your Showcase. From the perspective of a consumer, it can be very tricky to find the right professional for their job. Often the only information consumers can base their decision on is price. It can be hard to know what the quality of the work will be. Your website enables you to display images of past projects and case studies, giving a potential customer confidence to book you for their project. Other forms of advertising, such as print, are static and cannot be changed once they’re public. A dedicated website will properly showcase your dynamic and growing business.
- A dedicated website also has Google search on its side. A website enables you to tailor your content to the exact kind of phrases and keywords your potential customers are searching for, compared to a Facebook page that is limited in this aspect.
- Your website’s statistics are your secret. You don’t have to inform your audience how many page views, hits or unique visitors you have coming to your site each month.
Your website and Facebook in harmony
For some businesses you won’t have the budget to start with a website, so you could consider a staged approach – create an active Facebook presence, with titbits of shareable content, with an aim of creating a community of people. Then move on to a website once you have the resources.
But if you can get your website up and running, the sooner the better. After you have established your website, you can use social media to compliment your web presence rather than as a substitution for it. The way to look at it is that your website is where all your content ultimately lives, and Facebook and other social media is a place you can promote/discuss/share what you’re up to with it.
In short, should you have a Facebook page for your business? Yes, absolutely. It’s free and it gives valuable brand exposure. Is it enough? Personally, I think not. To create the kind of digital presence that is required for a small business to succeed in today’s world, a dedicated website isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a necessity.
If you would like some helping getting your website built or advice on how to do it on a budget, get in touch.
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