Is Facebook Your Small Business’ Substitute for a Website?
Facebook is a great tool for many small businesses to connect with their customers. Any business serious about its web presence should include Facebook as part its its overall marketing strategy, but not rely on it as a replacement for a website. To ensure that you are putting your best professional face forward, Facebook still cannot replace a website of your own. Here are a number of reasons you should reconsider Facebook as your sole presence online.
The Right Tool for the Right Job. Would you substitute glue with bubble gum? Use a fork to eat soup? As wild as these analogies seem, think of Facebook as a tool in your web marketing quiver. Consider the purpose of the job before choosing the appropriate tool. Facebook is a social service, using informal conversation, quick posts and fan base interactions as the means of engagement. It’s the watercooler banter to your business environment. A website is your shop face, or business HQ. There you fully and cleanly establish your brand, organize your contact information, list hours of operation; provide a restaurant menu, show your e-commerce product, post your artist portfolio, supply your “about me”, or upload your resume. If the job is about getting search results and finding one-stop content, a website is the most direct and succinct means of establishing your web presence.
Search Engine Optimization and organic search results. Bottom line is a business domain (ie., http://yourbusinessdomain.com) will rank better in organic searches than a Facebook page. Over 90% of users search on line before they make a purchasing decision, and your best shot to show up in those results is with a business website.
The future is unknown. Remember MySpace? AOL? Both were major players at one point but quickly lost market share when users left these platforms for greener pastures. Sure, today Facebook is a “go to” resource but there is no guarantee that this will be the story 6 months or a year from now. Even now there seems to be evidence that users are growing tired of Facebook and moving elsewhere.
You have control, NOT Facebook. Time and time again Facebook has pulled the rug out from under users and business owners costing them untold amounts of money and wasted time. Remember, Facebook is in business for themselves, and when they decide changes suit their goals, you may be left holding the bag. With your own site you have the autonomy to control your own business message and presentation, which is critical.
Facebook is big, BUT GOOGLE IS BIGGER! We all marvel how Facebook has grown and dominates the social media marketplace, but the fact remains: Facebook is still number 2 and Google is STILL NUMBER ONE! This is important because with all the hype around Facebook more users still use Google to find and research businesses then they do with Facebook.
Success online is determined by building broad, expansive reach. As a business you don’t want to limit yourself to just one venue on the web. An effective online marketing strategy incorporates a number of different outlets to maximize its reach. This could include the following: your business website; Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and other social media; Four Square, Gowalla, and other geo-location services; Yelp!, Merchants Circle, and other business directory services; Google Places; Email Marketing; and even Pay Per Click ad placements.
There is no doubt Facebook is now an important tool in any small business overall web strategy, but there are some things Facebook does well and some others it doesn’t. So don’t put all your eggs into the Facebook basket because your business will ultimately suffer from it.