September 1, 2016
With all the talk about social media, it can be easy to question whether or not a website should be the hub of your online presence. After all, with 1.7 billion worldwide users on Facebook, won’t a business Facebook Page work just as well?
A Facebook Page Is A Lot Like A Business Website, Right?
Many new small business owners wonder if having a strong business presence on a social network like Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram won’t work as a replacement for a business website. It won’t!
Building a strong business presence on one or more social networks is great. But don’t assume that what you build there and can do today, will remain the same for as long as your business is around.
What you can do today on any social network, including Facebook, can change in the blink of an eye. As networks grow and evolve the rules of the game, especially for businesses, change.
Down the road, you likely won’t have the organic or free reach you have today. (This is already true on Facebook.) In fact, it’s entirely possible the network you build your brand on may not even exist five years from now. We live in a fast-changing world, especially when it comes to technology.
The Rules Of The Social Media Game Are Evolving
The rules of the game on any social network can and do change. You have absolutely no control over what the rules will be for using any social network a year from now, let alone tomorrow.
Just ask any small business owner who jumped on the Facebook bandwagon early on! Many were initially delighted at being able to reach people in their News Feed for free. These businesses worked hard to build a fan base for their Page. Sometimes paying to build the number of people who had liked their Page.
They had no idea that one day, in around 2012 and earlier, Facebook would begin to limit how much of what they share would actually make it into their fans’ News Feed!
Today, unless Facebook Page owners pay to get into the News Feed of their fans, it’s unlikely what they share will be seen by most of their fans! A mere 1 to 6% of Facebook Page fans, according to internationally recognized Facebook expert, Mari Smith.
“Facebook organic (free) reach is down to a mere 1-6% of your fans.
That is, for every 100 people on Facebook who liked your business page, only 1-6 of them actually see your posts in their News Feed.”
That said, Facebook and other social networks can be a very worthwhile investment of time and money.
But building the hub of your small business’ online presence on a social media platform is a mistake.
Any online platform that you build your business on, that you don’t own, is at the mercy of the owner of that platform!
Should A Website Or Social Network Be The Hub Of Your Online Presence?
Done well social media can help strengthen your online brand and send traffic to your website. It’s one spoke in the wheel of your online marketing strategy, with your website as the hub. It’s not something isolated from everything else you do to promote your business. It’s a spoke in the wheel.
Social media can help build brand name recognition and a solid reputation for your business, and it can drive traffic to your website! If you have a blog on your website or sell products there, it should drive traffic to your website.
But, if your business looks great on social networking sites like Facebook but sucks on your website, your business and the first impression people have of it, will suffer!
Your website, not a social network, should be the hub of your online presence. It’s the only platform you have any real control over!
Your Website: The Hub of Your Business Online
Most people today who want to find your business or to learn about your business and their products and/or services, look to your business website first.
This may be because they’ve seen your name somewhere; or because a friend or family member mentioned your name; or because your business appeared in a search result.
But, what they do when they arrive on your website determines whether or not they stay on your website and dig deeper, or whether they leave or exit your website right away.
If they discover your business on a social network, chances are, if they’re thinking of doing business with you, the next step for them is to visit your website, to learn more.
And importantly, most people will visit your website while on their mobile device, according to Google, so make sure your business website is mobile-friendly!
Your Business Website Probably Doesn’t Need To Cost A Small Fortune
Whether you are looking to build your first small business website or make improvements to an existing one, it needn’t cost a small fortune. If you already have a website built on a Content Management System like WordPress, all the better.
Of course, some businesses require a level of functionality and complexity that is much more expensive. But for many small businesses, this is not the case.
The quality of the images and content used on your website along with the layout, design and functionality are important! Just having a website is not enough. How that website represents your business, your brand, is hugely important.
It’s not about having all the bells and whistles. In fact, sometimes these can actually hurt the experience visitors have on your website rather than help it. (Especially now that most people use their mobile phone to search and visit websites.)
The cost to your business of having a solid branded business website is small compared to the advantages. A presence on social media can’t replace having a solid business branded website!
A Word To The Wise!
One caution here! While a basic small business website shouldn’t cost a small fortune, if you’re paying too little this could be a warning sign as well!
A client referred to me recently from a self-employment agency I consult for, had gotten a great deal, or so it seemed, on a new business website. The problem was that after more than six months the website was still not complete! There were huge problems with the images and layout as well as:
- Close to twenty plugins (WordPress) – the vast majority of which were outdated and unneeded.
- A website contact form not setup – completed forms didn’t link through to the business email address.
- Settings showed ‘discourage search engine from indexing this site’ – website wasn’t being indexed by search engines.
- … and several other problems.
The client got what he first thought was a great deal. It ended up being a very costly one!
The cost of the site ended up being at least double what he had paid originally, due to the extra work needed to fix the site. This amount was closer to what he should have paid at the start. But the real cost was far greater! He didn’t have a truly workable site for six months and he invested significantly more time and energy following up with the company who built the site, trying to get his website complete.
The site ‘looked’ completed, but it was far from complete. Cheaper isn’t always better! Then again, more expensive isn’t always better either!
When you’re looking for someone to develop your website don’t only look at the price. Check out their work and what others say about them also!
In an online world, consumer decisions are heavily influenced by what they see online! For this reason, having a solid website to positively represent your business has never been more important!
Note: For a more in-depth look at the many reasons why you need a branded website for your small business click here.
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