“Doesn’t social media replace the need for a business website?” This was one of the many questions asked at the Small Business Tech Panel at the Warehaüs, a coworking space in Holland, Michigan in March 2014. The short answer is no. Here’s an expanded version of the answer I gave.
These are the advantages of a business website over social media, which is why social media can’t replace a business website:
- You control your website; you don’t control social media
- Professional image/credibility
- Control the design
- Control your content
- Greater functionality
- Better visibility in search engines
Let’s dive into these.
Advantages of a business website over social media
You control your website; you don’t control social media
The main reason you can’t entrust your web presence to social media is that you can’t control social media. This tweet, comparing social media to “rented land,” explains it well:
— Erin Harding (@_GeniusVenus) July 10, 2014
The following reasons are all related to control in some way.
All else being equal, would you choose the law firm with a website, or the law firm that’s only on Facebook? How about an accounting firm, staffing firm, real estate agent, business coach, or manufacturing company? The fact that your business spent the money and time to create a website enhances your professional image and lends credibility. While you’re at it, be sure to use professional email addresses too. Which is more professional: [email protected] or [email protected]?
Control your content
The terms and conditions of social media platforms often allow them to use your content however they please. Are you willing to allow this? Your website gives you more control over your content.
Sometimes people tell me that it’s so much easier to post content to social media than to their websites. I agree that most social media platforms make it very simple to post content, and many websites are more difficult to work with. That’s why we create sites with WordPress and train clients to manage content. WordPress may not be quite as simple as posting to social media, but it can be close, and certainly simpler than a non-WordPress site.
Control the design
With your own website, you control the visual design. You (or your web designer) can ensure that the colors, typography, images, etc. match your branding. Social media platforms control their visual designs, and you must fit within them. They also frequently change layouts, image sizes, etc., and you must scramble to adapt.
On social media platforms, you must work with the tools they provide. A website gives far more flexibility; you can use a huge range of web technology. A few examples:
- Contact forms
- Embedded content from other sites (Google Maps, Google Calendars, entire web pages, etc.)
- E-commerce systems with products, carts, and checkout (for digital or physical products)
- Real estate listings
- Appointment booking systems
Better visibility in search engines
Search engines (such as Google and Bing) pay attention to domains (the main part of a website address, such as accountingfirm.com). When you put your business on Facebook or LinkedIn, your content is on their domain. To raise your ranking in searches, you’ll be better off using your own domain and establishing your own reputation with search engines.
Use social media to complement your website
If social media alone isn’t the right approach, what is? Use social media to promote your business, directing followers to your website. Some use the hub-and-spoke analogy; your website is the hub, and social media platforms are the spokes that guide followers back to your website.
Integrating social media into business websites
When we create WordPress websites, we integrate social media in ways that are appropriate to the site. These may include
- Social media icons linked to your business’ profiles
- Social sharing buttons so visitors can share your content with their networks
- Automatically posting your blog posts to social media
- Displaying social feeds so visitors get a glance at your social media activity
We focus on designing and developing WordPress websites, so when clients need help creating their profiles or running social media marketing campaigns, we partner with social media experts. That way, each company does what they specialize in, collaborating as necessary to provide what the client needs. Contact us to start the conversation about the intersection of social media and your business website.
What’s your take on social media versus business websites? Can you think of other pros and cons? Leave a comment.