Ever ask yourself, “why do I need a website when I can just use social media to promote my business?” It’s a great question that we get asked more often than you’d imagine – “website vs social media“, which is best for you?
Why would you want to build a website that has numerous costs (domains, hosting, designers, SEO, updates, maintenance, and more), when you could just setup social media pages for your business on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram … for FREE?
When it comes to social media, besides being “FREE” to get a business page setup, there are also millions of people on the platform looking to interact with you. When used correctly, this allows you to grow a following faster than you could elsewhere.
Here are some of the benefits that small businesses get from using social media for their business:
Most of the platforms are easy to use, requiring no technical expertise. When creating a business page there are straight forward forms to fill out that ask for all of your vital business information in an organized and easy to follow manner.
Don’t know how to code? No problem. Just type your information in the boxes, upload some images, and you’re done.
Due to the number of pages, the high amount of shared content, and the popularity of these sites, your Business Page on popular social media platforms are search engine optimized out of the box so your page shows up high in search rankings when someone’s searching for you business.
See this example of what happens when we search for our business. Our website shows up in the #1 spot but two social media sites show up on the first page, as well. We highlighted Facebook in the #2 spot to demonstrate the point.
Most social media platforms (especially the big ones like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram) also have great marketing capabilities and integrations. You can build your email list, raise money, sell products and a lot more from the tabs on your Facebook page.
Most platforms have similar capabilities and the analytics of each platform continue to improve allowing you to track what visitors are doing on your pages, what content they like, and how many people your content is reaching. This allows you to quickly and easily know what works and what doesn’t.
Having a website built for your business is very different from the points made above, especially when it comes to cost. When done professionally, a website is going to cost more than setting up free social media pages, but the differences don’t stop there. Here are some things you’ll need to do to build a website for your local business:
To get started, you have to pay recurring costs for your domain and website hosting. The domain is the “address” where you’ll build your website (ex: “yourbusiness.com”). Website hosting is the server space (i.e. the “land”) where your website will live.
Since most small business owners don’t double as website designers, you’re probably going to have to hire a web designer to design, build, and occasionally update the website for you.
Even these “free” and “drag and drop” website builders require some technical and design expertise to end up with a site you can be happy about and proud to show off.
If you want your website to rank well in search engines for certain keywords, like your business name, it will require an understanding of some basic on-page SEO. If you don’t know anything about SEO then you might consider paying someone to help you with that.
This is just the beginning of what it will cost to have a website, which is why so many people turn to social media. So, why even build a website for your business when you could use these free social media platforms to market your business online?
The answer… with a website you are 100% control.
As a business owner, would you rather:
A) Set up shop in someone else’s store (without a lease) OR
B) Own or lease a dedicated space for your business?
With the first option, you’re at the mercy of the store owner. If they don’t want your business in their store anymore, then you’re now out of business until you find a new location. If they decide not to open up one morning, your business can’t reach it’s customers and your revenue will be affected.
However, if you own or lease then you have much more control over your situation. The changes in someone else’s business won’t affect whether you stay in business or how much it will cost to stay in business. The same is true for having a website that you control, rather than building your online presence solely on a social media platform.
If you setup shop solely on one or more social platforms, your business is ultimately at the mercy of those platforms. They can make changes whenever they want and you don’t have a voice, even if it impacts your business. If that platform gets acquired and changed or shut down, you may no longer be able to reach your customers.
A great example of this is when many business pages were recently hurt when Facebook updated it’s algorithm, decreasing the reach of business pages. There was nothing business’s could do except complain. At the end of the day they had to accept the new rules and move forward or move on.
The same thing could happen on another social platform at any time. YouTube could start charging you to store videos on their servers. Twitter could decide to become a premium platform where business’s have to “pay to play”. In either of these circumstances if you don’t pay then you no longer get to communicate with your customers.
You have NO control on these social platforms.
If you have your own website, and it’s the “hub” of your business, then you have 100% control of your situation.
Like the store analogy above, you can have your own store and still setup a rack of your items in someone else’s store. Why wouldn’t you? Especially if they offer the space for free. Not only do you control your store, you also get to use someone else’s space to market your items and make some sales. If they close down then you might lose a great marketing space, but you aren’t out of business.
This is how you should treat social media.
Use social media as a marketing platform to drive traffic back to your website. Use that traffic to grow your email and customer list so you can communicate with them any time, any where. On your own terms.
At the end of the day, it’s much smarter to invest in something you own than to build on land that doesn’t belong to you. Some day the rules are going to change and it could have a major impact on your business, if you aren’t in control. This is why we highly recommend to our client’s that they invest in a website that they own and then use social media – and it’s many benefits – to reach new audiences and grow their business.
Dave is the founder of Conversion Strategies, Inc., a local internet marketing firm focused on helping local businesses properly use the internet to get more customers and grow their business. When he’s not working with clients, Dave loves to spend time with his wife, 1 year old son and border collie, on the rugby pitch, and building/breaking things around the house.