As web designers many a times we have been asked which to invest in: Website or a Facebook page. For most companies and organisations, these online platforms have specific roles and both are important in building your brand. There are a number of things to be considered when making the choice between these two powerful tools. We are going to break down these factors so read on to learn more about which is better for you.
If you are just starting out, want to build some buzz about what you’re up to, have some conversations with people who would be interested, have some juicy information to share, but don’t have lots of content yet – Facebook is a great option. Facebook is optimized for small chunks of info that can easily be shared and discussed. People don’t go to Facebook to read lengthy prose, and the kinds of things they share are brief, educational, humorous, or helpful in some way. On the other hand, if you already have lots of content you want to present in a clean, organized fashion – or products you’re offering for sale – or you want a blog – a website is probably the best place for you to start. There are no limitations to the way you present information on your website, so you can organize it however you want, in as many different sections as you want, linked together however you want. Your website is your digital storefront. It is your online location where people expect to find contact information, a list of your products and services, images, reviews, pricing, and more.
Facebook is a place you can promote/discuss/share what you are up to. You can certainly create brand awareness on Facebook without a website, and you can certainly leverage Facebook sharing without having a dedicated Facebook page, but often they work best together.
Companies require new leads to grow. While our loyal customers are great for business, new customers are necessary for keeping up with your competition. One of the best ways to generate new leads online is through search engine optimization (SEO), actions taken to increase your presence in search engine results. More and more, people are relying on search to find products and services. Thus, the goal of every business is to organically rank in search results for their keywords. If you are a local ice cream shop, you want hungry visitors, unfamiliar with the area, to Google “ice cream” and end up at your place of business. Websites are absolutely necessary for SEO. Facebook and other social media sites will help you to rank, but without a website you will have little luck of ever ranking on the first page of results. With a website you will have the flexibility to build links and create content, two major components of SEO.
Many, many people are already on Facebook (not all of them regular users), but not everyone. And while Facebook is continually being adopted by more mature audiences, it’s still the stronghold of those savvy enough to feel completely comfortable with social media & the public nature of online life – read: younger people. Also, the Facebook audience has come to expect the ability to carry on a conversation with those involved. If your business is reluctant to share or discuss things publicly, Facebook probably isn’t right for you because a static page on Facebook won’t get you very far at all. Meanwhile, your website can implement discussion and comments, but in an environment you completely control.
To be more flexible with the way you publish and promote your content you need your own business website. By creating your own website, you retain control over the look and feel of your business content. You also future-proof your business against Facebook’s ever changing rules and algorithms, and you give your business a better chance of being found in search. To stand out you have to have an active presence that offers interesting, shareable information & an on-going conversation. Also, design-wise, you don’t have lots of room to play. Facebook limits the width of your Page content to just 520 pixels wide. That’s not very much.
Although Facebook does have some awesome analytics, they are nowhere near as awesome as what Google offers. Google Analytics, as well as other major statistics packages, offers amazing insights into how users are interacting with your website. Web Analytics will show you how a sale was made, what path a visitor took through your site, bounce rates, number of visitors at a specific time of day, and so much more. Facebook’s analytics cannot tell you all of this, leaving you with much less information than that of your competitors who have websites.
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.