Some believe that a Facebook page and perhaps a Linkedin and/or Twitter account is all that is required for a complete online presence nowadays and that websites are outdated and have no place in a contemporary online strategy.
While some businesses can build brands and generate adequate sales through a social media presence alone there are still many good reasons to have a website.
Some of these are:
You read the terms of service when you created your Facebook page, right? Are you aware that Facebook can yoink your page from you at anytime, for any reason? You could invest thousands of hours into building a community that may number into the thousands through Facebook or Twitter or Linkedin and have it taken away from you within seconds without right of retort.
What are you going to do then? How are you going to reform those connections without email addresses, contact details and a platform to communicate with your audience?
2. They’re Google friendly
Search engines cannot index status updates and conversations within Facebook. Basic contact info is indexed but what happens on your page wall, stays on your page wall. This is not the case with Twitter and Linkedin where communications are indexed by search engines but the size of your messages is severely limited to pangs of consciousness and very basic messages which doesn’t give the search engines alot to go on.
3. You aren’t restricted to 140 characters
Sometimes, you need more than 140 characters to get a point across and make an impression with an existing or potential client. This blog post could number into thousands of words without a problem because it’s on my site, can’t do that anywhere else.
Ever seen a long Facebook status update or private message? How awkward are they to read? That’s not what social media was designed for. If you need to get across a point in more detail than that provided by an email subject line then take it to a website like this one.
4. You can brand them
Sure, you can create custom Twitter backgrounds and Facebook boxes but you can only tweak the colour scheme, fonts, etc so much. You can do whatever you please to a site without being constrained by any particular style guides. Your online efforts should be focussed on increasing awareness of your brand, not Facebook’s!
5. They’re integrated with social media anyway
Most websites nowadays are heavily integrated with social media anyway. Take this site and its Facebook Connect, social media toolbar and other points of integration. The non social media and regular web is morphing into one homogenous whole.
6. You can build your own database
Yes, you can build a list of fans/followers on Facebook/Twitter/Linkedin et al but that list remains the property of those networks. Contact databases built through your own site like a list of email newsletter subscribers or forum members are yours and yours alone to keep forever (or until your subscribers tire of your dreary spam and opt out)
Unhappy with the speed your site loads at? You can upgrade your servers or optimise the code to make it load faster. Want to perform some user experience testing to try and improve it? Go, right ahead!
You can’t do that with your Facebook page or Twitter, it’s take it or leave it and if they go down (fail whale, anyone) there’s nothing you can do about it until the teams behind the networks figure it out.
And what about the giant uproars everytime Facebook makes a minor change that you weren’t informed of? At least you can warn your site visitors beforehand when it’s your site and rectify issues promptly so as not to annoy your audience.
Websites are the cornerstone of most online marketing strategies. They act as hubs from which organisations can control what they broadcast, how they broadcast it and who they broadcast it to. Social media acts as distribution points for these messages and as a forum to discuss articles and content contained on them. They supplement rather than replace the traditional website in a comprehensive online marketing strategy and will be a cornerstone of any good strategy for quite some time to come I believe.
If you don’t have one, get one because your Facebook page alone just doesn’t cut it.