Can a business exist on the web today using just a social media presence and no actual business website? Yes, but it’s a major mistake.
While social media is a powerful tool for marketing and building online reach for a business, it does not fill the shoes of a corporate website. Yes, small businesses should be using social media, but they should do so as part of a complete inbound marketing strategy.
- Credibility – To a small business, trust and credibility is key. Yes, it’s easy to create a Facebook Page for your business, but this low barrier to entry means that many scammers can also book up fake business pages. A website is a step further in credibility. It involves purchasing a domain name and putting thought into content that accurately describes your business. This added depth can’t be matched with just a social media presence.
- Value – Sure, it’s fun and rewarding to own a business, but what if you want to sell it someday? Part of what businesses look for when making acquisitions is a brand with assets. If your business doesn’t have an established website with traffic, leads, a blog, and inbound links, your business will likely be less valuable.
- Control – Have you ever changed the paint color of your house? When you own a house, it’s easy to make improvements. On the other hand, if you are renting, it is either difficult or prohibited. The same principle applies to the web. When you have a presence on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, you are essentially “renting” space from them, and they have all the control. For example, if you wanted to have a contest on Facebook, you would need to follow their rules. A website allows you to be in total control of your online marketing.
- Owning Transactions – Do you sell anything online? Do you want to follow up with potential sales leads? Having a website makes it easy to sell goods online or collect sales leads from interested visitors. Trying to perform these activities on top of a social media platform is not only challenging, but again requires that you follow that specific platform’s rules. These rules could force you to allocate a portion of your sales to the platform or pay for the sales leads you receive.
- Having a Hub – Think of your online marketing like a wheel. Your strategy should have several spokes that connect back to one hub in the center. A website is the hub of your online marketing. It serves as the one place to which you drive prospects and leads for information and business transactions. Using only social media removes the hub, and the wheel crumbles.
- Analytics – Do you want to improve your inbound marketing? You should. The problem is that most social media platforms provide very limited or no data. In contrast, many website analytic tools can provide a wealth of data and insight. Analytics allow you, as a business owner, to improve your marketing and, ultimately, grow your business.
- Communication – Communication is at the heart of social media. The problem is, how you communicate is dictated by the social platform you are using. What if you wanted to send your Twitter followers an email? You can’t. A website allows you to collect information from visitors and choose how you want to communicate with them, whether it’s via email, Facebook, Twitter, or that old fashioned telephone.