We’ve heard several clients ask us in recent months, “Why do I even need a website anymore? Can’t I just use my Facebook page?” While this may seem like a logical thought on the surface, when you dig down into what this will mean for your business’s online presence you’ll realize that Facebook alone is not enough.
First, let’s take a look at why some people may think that a Facebook-only approach is the way to go:
- Facebook does have more than 845 million active users as of this month. By putting your page within the realm of this monster of a network, it follows that you may be more likely to gain some traffic, which will then build on itself as people ‘like’ your page.
- It’s also very true that Facebook is a great place to start building your identity if you need to have something up and running while you’re website is in the works. Having an identity on Facebook as well as Twitter, Google+, and any of the other Social Media sites that are out there today does increase the SEO of your website and will help people to find your business. Though ‘OF YOUR WEBSITE’ is really the operative phrase there. If you don’t have a website, then your business could be on the cutting edge of all of the Social Media sites and still not see any SEO benefit.
- Facebook pages are also much easier to maintain than a website. Clicking the ‘edit page’ button on your page will allow you to change anything and everything that you could want to change. Everything is presented as WYSIWYG, or ‘What You See Is What You Get,’ so there is no confusing code to contend with. It’s simple.
So Facebook is good, right? Absolutely! Facebook is a wonderful tool to have in your online marketing toolbox. However, making it your only tool is a really bad idea. Why? Keep reading…
- We’ve already mentioned SEO, but I want to expand on what was said a little bit. It is true that your Facebook page may turn up in some search results, but only if a user is searching for your business name. If you are the type of business that relies on keyword searches to find new clients, and as a veterinarian you are, then you will likely not be found without a website. Why? Because on your website you control what search terms and keywords will help people to find your page. Your website content can (and should!) be written with search engines in mind. Your Facebook page, on the other hand, can not be as easily optimized. Your search results are at the mercy of Facebook.
- Functionality is another problem with Facebook. Sure, Facebook will allow you to add tabs, photos, and video to your page. You can post content to your wall, or use the Notes app to create a mini-blog within Facebook. The drawback is that Facebook decides how all of these things will be displayed once you’ve posted them. You have very little control over the look and feel of your page. Yes, you can design 3rd party tabs to install onto your page to help reflect your brand, but those tabs all need to meet Facebook’s requirements. And if, as it has recently with FBML Tabs, Facebook decides to no longer support a format that you’ve installed on your page, you will lose all of work that you put into it.
- Now let’s talk about analytics. You can add Google Analytics to your website and get a wealth of information about the visitors to your site. How many visits have you gotten? What page has the most views? What links get clicked the most? Which pages tend to lead people into your online store to make purchases? Age, gender, location, what browser they’re using, what search term they used to find you, how long they stayed on each page… The list goes on and on. Facebook has a similar offering with its Insights tool, which has generally improved in recent months, however it is still nowhere near as robust as the options that you have to track site traffic and conversion rates on your own website.
- On to paid advertising. Your website provides your customers and potential customers a place to learn all about you without being distracted by paid advertisements. And if you do choose to allow advertisements on your website, you also get to choose who will be allowed to place their name and logo on your site. That same choice is not available to you with Facebook. On your Facebook page your information will be sharing the screen with paid advertisements selected by Facebook. And because of the way Facebook ads can be targeted to people with certain interests in a certain geographic area, chances are good that your page may be sharing space with your competitors’ advertisements. This would never happen on your own website.
- Last of all, remember that Facebook is still just Facebook. It is a Social Networking site that happens to be the largest in the world right now. But the same could have been said about Friendster and MySpace at one point in time. Oddly enough, we do not hear many clients asking whether or not it makes sense to replace their website with a MySpace profile. There are more and more social media sites being introduced all the time, and the chances of Facebook staying on top forever are pretty slim.
So should you steer clear of Facebook for your business? Absolutely not. Again, it’s a fantastic tool for your online marketing toolbox. It’s a great way to help find and engage with your customers and potential customers online. The point of Facebook, as is true with all social media sites, is to help share content that you’ve created and are hosting on your own website.
On your website you have total control of your content. You can decide when, where, and how it is being displayed. You can optimize it for whatever search terms you decide are best. And when you have great content, you can share it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and on any other site where you have a presence to ensure that it reaches the maximum number of people possible, and steers them back to your website. Because your website is where the party is. Social Media just provides people with an invitation to come over and join in.
If you’d like help with your online presence, contact us for a free consultation.