You can easily replace this question with any social media platform: Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and/or LInked In. Either way, the simple answer is ‘no’. Why not? There are several reasons why companies (mostly new, startup companies) ask this question or use this as a reason why they don’t need a website. First and foremost, starting a social media profile/page is free and you don’t need any professional design or development skills to at least set it up. Second, you have a large audience base all ready at your fingertips – As of January 2014, 74% of online adults use social networking sites, with 71% of that audience on Facebook. (PEW Research Poll). Third, you can post to it regularly and update your account as you need.
So why not use it as only source of your company’s internet footprint?
Why a Facebook Page cannot be your Web Page
I. Free is not always better. Setting up social media and having an account is free, but you will still need to pay for ads and boosted tweets/posts regularly to get substantial traffic. And if your company does not have a website, what does that say about your brand? First of all, you look outdated, unprepared and left behind by your competitors … and honestly unwilling to invest in your own business.
“Great web design instills trust in your business. According to web credibility research from Stanford, 75% of users admit to making judgments about a company’s credibility based on their website’s design.” – Stanford Web Credibility Research
II. Answer your Customers Questions. Your Facebook profile can give a brief description of what type of business you are, hours, parking situation, and location. That is, if people visit your About Section or information tab, which happens on average about 1-5% of your post/tweet impressions, which signifies rarely. So you will get more customers calling only for answers to basic questions, which takes time that could be saved by having a website to answer those basic questions. And many millennials prefer getting their information online, so if they can’t what they need from your online presence, they will go to your competitors.
III. Build Consumer Confidence with Quality Content. You can say a lot more in a more organized fashion than you can from reverse chronological brief posts or a condensed profile (About Section) that few will see. Your home page can quickly introduce your company’s purpose, your specialty in your industry, as well a list of products/services you offer. On a website you can have a FAQ page; a Portfolio page to show your completed projects; a Catalog page with a checkout system; About our Company that includes a history, mission statement and company profile; Staff Directory; Newsfeed; and numerous forms to collect customer data. None of which can be a part of your social media profile. With quality content, you can introduce yourself to your customer and motivate them to call or email you to take the next step.
“I can often tell when a prospect calls if they have or have not visited my website first. If they have, they are much more ready to set up that initial meeting because they have seen my professional website, looked over my portfolio of 100+ examples, and have read at least a little about my company profile and services listing. They feel more comfortable because that trust and credibility piece has been established.
If they have not seen my website first, they have many more questions which takes more time to establish confidence and rapport. Hence, why I usually ask them to visit my website after our phone discussion. If a new prospect has seen my website first (which about 70% of those who call have), they are usually much more ready to set up a meeting or sign a contract. The website has not only saved me time, but has become an effective part of my sales team.” – Nicole Mueller, Startup Production
IV. With a Content Management System, you can update your website yourself. Many people think social media is the preferred option because they do not have access to update their website or think it will be too laborious or confusing. But in fact, with the right content management system, you can easily update your website content, add pictures and projects, blog regularly, add and remove pages. With a professional designer, like Startup Production, you can have a professional developed website that is easy to use and update. (We include one hour of training with our estimates.)
V. Connecting with your Audience with a website. While statistics show that 74% of adults in the US are on some form of social media, that doesn’t mean that they are fans of your business page, and/or seeing your content. In fact, less than 5% of even your followers, see your actual content unless you boost your post/tweet. Current stats show that there are 3.2 billion internet users worldwide in 2015, that’s a much larger audience but you still have work to do either way to get eyes on your online brand. With SEO (optimization, targeted keywords, social media, consistent blogging), you can easily get more visits to your website than your social media profile page.
VI. Another note of caution: Who owns your content and social relationships on your social media platforms? Simply put Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram do.
VII. Your brand is in focus on your website. Your logo, your colors and your content is front and center on your website, and the only brand. Social media easily distracts to the user to other’s contents, even possibly your competitors. To illustrate, your social media can be compared to your signs, ads, and billboards which encourage a visit to your business/retail space, which is your website in this scenario. If you have no destination to point all your social media efforts to, you have a lost a huge opportunity to connect to your customer where your brand is the focus of their attention. Because we all know how easy it is to get distracted on social media.
VIII. It’s a partnership, not a competition. As a business, you need both – an effective website and a social media strategy. The two work together, not exclusive of one another. Social media motivates users to visit your website for more information, so include a link to your website regularly in your posts/tweets. And your website should also forward visitors to your social media profiles with links, icons, Like or Follow buttons, and stream excerpts, so users can engage with you on a different level.
To sum up, there is no shortcut to your internet marketing strategy, but if done right, you will be able to see significant ROI (return on investment).