Should you use social media for your business instead of a website?
There are currently approximately 32 million Facebook users in the UK1. Many young entrepreneurs are, therefore, wondering whether a social media for business can completely replace a conventional website.
And why not? After all, much points to the fact that greater customer activity takes place on social media platforms such as Facebook than is otherwise the case on the Internet. For instance, over 30 million fans have already 'liked' the Facebook fan page from Starbucks. On the other hand, only a fraction of this number visits the company’s own website. The same goes for Coca-Cola and other consumer brands.
Why social media alone is not enough
Social media platforms are without question a valuable and modern supplement to a brand presence on the Internet. However, they are not an alternative. Many business people who limited themselves solely to a Facebook page have since back-pedalled.
That’s because the one-sided concentration in the social media sphere entails certain risks:
- A high volume of Internet users still do not engage in social media and are not reached by companies who only have a presence on Facebook. On other social networks the difference is even more marked.
- Major companies such as Facebook, Apple or Google are behind social media networks and apps. You basically rent just one space from them – on their terms and conditions. These change on a frequent basis, and not always to the benefit of the customer.
- People are dependent on the technical possibilities of the platform. Unfortunately, that also severely limits the possibilities in matters of corporate design. All company websites essentially follow the same modular principle and differ from one another in the same way as a row of terraced houses on a new estate – in other words, hardly at all.
- The nice thing about a 'social-only' presence is, of course, the low cost of setting it up – compared to a fantastically designed website. However, the ratio evens itself out over time, because in order for a fan page to work, it must continually provide new, attractive content, and that also costs money.
It makes no sense to put social media and your own website against each other.
A customer visits a website to get information on a product or service. Journalists look for research sources. Suppliers check for alterations and news. In short, people who visit a website expect facts and figures. On Facebook or Google Plus, on the other hand, they want to share information, post comments, have a little fun, build up relationships, follow recommendations, etc.
Information on your own website; relationships on a fan page – both are necessary for a well-rounded presence on the Internet. The buzz on social media platforms increases the relevance of the information on your own website and vice versa. In fact 70% of consumers are more likely to visit a business’s Facebook page if they could get to it directly by typing in a web address2. That is why the question should never be one of ‘either/or’, but rather one of how you bring both together as efficiently as possible in order to offer the customer a brand experience that is as consistent as possible. For example, if you use social media for quick or weekly updates to your customers, try to also showcase or integrate those Facebook posts or Twitter feeds directly on your website.
It’s okay for your social media page to have some of the same content as your website; in fact, integrate social where it makes sense on your website to make the most effective use of your time and communications to customers. Blogs are another form of content that may belong on both your social media site and your website.