With Facebook for Business, Does My Business Really Need a Website?
Can a Facebook Business Page Replace a Website?
Facebook is a low-cost and relatively simple platform for hosting your online presence as a small business. It has also been the top social media site in the U.S. since 2009 when it overtook Myspace. As of June 2017, it had over 2 billion users worldwide.
Facebook is multi-faceted: it hosts video, boasts the power of FB Messenger, and even serves as a search engine in its own right, helping users find restaurants, stores, people, and articles. But after several data scandals, including the misuse of personally identifiable information from 87 million+ users by Cambridge Analytica, Facebook has been rocked to its core in recent months.
Despite these scandals, Facebook remains an important social channel. The benefits of Facebook continue to lead many small business owners to question their need for an actual website, which can cost more initial effort, time, money, and maintenance. Does Facebook offer enough on its own to be a practical alternative for creating a real website?
The short answer: Though it’s still important to have, Facebook is NO substitute for a website. Here’s why:
You Can’t Count On Organic Reach Through FB
One of the biggest complaints from businesses and publications who use Facebook is the constant evolution of Facebook’s algorithms. Organic reach will only get you so far—and the trend is that brands’ organic reach is consistently dwindling.
Facebook is increasingly a pay-to-play platform for brands.
As Hubspot has reported, Facebook’s VP of Publisher Solutions, Brian Boland, has said, “There’s simply too much content being published on Facebook, making visibility in the News Feed increasingly competitive.”
In response, Facebook has prioritized what it calls “meaningful interactions,” leading to a drastic decrease in organic reach for businesses. As mentioned by the same Hubspot article, brands should expect their organic reach to approach zero in the imminent future.
It is important to note that these algorithm changes have not affected paid content. It’s just that now businesses must pay to reach their list of followers.
What you really don’t want is to put yourself at the mercy of a single platform.
As we’ve seen, social media trends can change very fast. You only have to look at Snapchat to know this to be true. The key then is to diversify. As Gary Vaynerchuk puts it,
In 2018, only relying on Facebook or Instagram or YouTube is a terrible way to brand your business. Are you taking advantage of all the free platforms on social media or are you at the mercy of just one specific platform?”
(Hint: With tools like Hootsuite or Buffer, you can post on multiple social channels to spread your content across the web to direct traffic back to your website.)
Maintain Control of Your Business
Having your own website puts you in greater control over your company’s web traffic. The customization of your website also allows you to create funnels to drive visitors to take specific actions that might be more challenging to encourage within the confines of a Facebook Business page.
Yes, Facebook is useful for inbound marketing. You should consider it a tool in your arsenal, just not your main tool. Social should bring users back to the hub of your online presence—your website.
Branding & Professionalism
Users see a website as an essential mark of trustworthiness and professionalism. Without a website, you can look amateurish—having diminished visibility and credibility for potential customers who search for you online.
When it comes to branding, a Facebook page gives you very limited options. You can change your profile photo and cover photo, of course, but your branding is largely limited to the content you publish on the site.
A website gives you control over every aspect of your branding and image. Consider a website as the perfect platform to clarify your message.
From a UX point-of-view, keep in mind that Facebook is full of distractions. Cat videos, political spats, your aunt’s vacation to Boca Raton.
Capture Qualified Leads—Not Just a “Following”
With a company website, you can collect email addresses and contact information through interest forms, newsletter sign-ups, or lead magnets such as free ebooks or white papers, giving you qualified leads to follow up with.
Social media can be fun. But having “X number of followers” does not equate to a captive audience of customers. Follower counts can be misleading, particularly as Facebook phases out the chance to reach followers organically.
Permission email marketing isn’t going anywhere. Your business’s website should aim to get into visitors’ inboxes.
A website with the right analytics tool can also offer more in-depth demographic information about your visitors than Facebook. A single Facebook Business page doesn’t convey the same depth of information that Google Analytics will give you about the visitors to your website.
It’s all driven by metrics. You can capture the data needed to help you measure and improve the ROI of your marketing efforts online.
Information regarding bounce rates, how users are finding your business, and which businesses and blogs are backlinking to your website are valuable data-points that can help you optimize sales strategies. Facebook’s analytics tools only scratch the surface.
While Facebook has an internal search engine, the mother of all search engines is still Google. By having a search-engine optimized website, you can step out from the incessant noise of Facebook and put relevant content about your business right in front of the people searching for it.
By publishing regular, helpful, keyword-optimized content on your company blog and keeping pages evergreen, you can target users coming from search engines.
Facebook doesn’t pay when you draw users to their platform. For companies drawing lots of regular traffic, that’s a big missed opportunity for generating ad-revenue.
Other businesses are looking to pay to put their ads in front of an audience. If your website is within their niche, you can gain a passive income simply by setting up with Google Adsense or being paid directly by businesses who want their products advertised on your website.
With Facebook, you can’t monetize—and as mentioned, you’ll have to pay $$$ to get in front of users—even your own followers! (…unless your fan page is signed up for Facebook Audience Network).
Don’t miss the opportunity to do business online. Every company seeking growth needs a professional website optimized for SEO as a central part of their business strategy.
Not sure where to start? If you’re looking for someone to help you create a website, let’s connect.
Already have a website? Learn about Website Mistakes that Always Cost Your Small Business Money to see how you can optimize your site.
This article was co-authored by Sarabeth Flowers Lewis.
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