Should I set up a website for my new business or my community group, or is a page on a social media platform like Facebook enough?
All your eggs in one basket
The digital landscape is changing and evolving at a very fast pace, and at this point in time, the social network giant Facebook is dominating the internet space with a staggering 1.55 billion users.
While the platform is a great tool for keeping in touch with friends and family, it is also widely used by businesses and community groups to set up a presence online and interact with followers.
Setting up a Facebook page is so easy nowadays that many small business owners will deem the “free” platform to be sufficient to cater for their immediate needs.
The issue with social media platforms is that they remain a third-party tool over which users have very little control. Over the last twelve years, Facebook has altered many times over the way it was broadcasting news updates to fans and followers by constantly modifying its own algorithms. So much so that today, the “organic reach” of a Post (or “the total number of unique people who were shown your post through unpaid distribution”) is effectively less than 5%, with a Post lifetime of only a few hours.
In other words, the social network’s success is underpinned by a paid advertising business model – the most effective way to reach a specific target audience on Facebook today is through regular paid advertising, which is most of the time beyond the budget of many sole traders starting up.
The best of both worlds: set up a website and maintain a social media presence
In the long term, owning your own domain name probably remains the most rewarding solution
1 – Setting up a website remains the best choice when it comes to empowering users with total creative freedom. Owning your own domain name gives you control over branding and detailed customisation. As opposed to a sole social media presence, a website will over time deliver added confidence in a brand or a company, conveying credibility and trustworthiness.
2 – Owning your own domain is also a good practice when it comes to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Ranking high in Google’s results hinges on good quality links and keywords without which search engine and potential customers won’t find out about you as efficiently.
3 – Most importantly, owners should consider a website as a home-base, as a digital store front (with or without an e-commerce function), as a 24/7 knowledge repository about their line of business where visitors will find your contact details, a comprehensive breakdown of the services you offer, your company/group history, pricing, image galleries and videos etc.
4 – A website remains the best platform to deliver your own content with a lot more flexibility, all the more so with a blogging function enabled. Setting your own terms and conditions, your home-base then becomes a dynamic and interactive launch pad to post your own news and updates.
5 – The ideal solution is probably to have both alternatives working in tandem:
- A website as a flexible self-service hub where users can go to and look for the information they require together with
- One (or more) social media platform(s) to interact with users, post regular updates about the business and promotions. While Facebook can be a great tool to build an interactive community, it is not the only platform in town and other social networks might actually work better for your business or community group.
- Twitter for news, media and PR / Pinterest and Instagram for design, fashion or food creatives / Google + for photographers and tech geeks / LinkedIn for business networking / YouTube for instructors and teachers etc.
And the minimal website hosting and maintenance costs will be more than offset by the long-term benefits of maintaining a sustainable online presence.
Find your audience or your customers, engage and interact with them on social media platforms…and then bring them “Home”.