“Why would I pay for a website when I can just get a free Facebook account?”
We hear this often at J.Osmond Design. Facebook can be a great way of raising awareness for your business, but it is far from being a perfect, standalone platform for your web presence. Here’s why;
It’s not yours. Pride of ownership is an intangible asset, obvious to your customers, but it just cannot be reflected via Facebook. Branding will suffer, unless your company already uses Facebook colors. You have no control over any features of Facebook; no say over when and how things change. Facebook features change often, which often changes the look and feel of your page. A year of careful layouts, or photo crops can be ruined on Facebook’s whim. Believe us, Facebook changes frequently, and well in advance of their support documentation.
Business activity is restrictive on Facebook. As a business page, rather than a personal page, you do not reach all of your followers when you post content. Unless you pay for Ads, or pay to boost your posts, the most reach you can expect is approximately 6-12% of your total followers. People who are already following you! In the past you had more freedom, but now your free Facebook business account is actually designed to make you pay to reach your audience, even your current followers, and to pay for it constantly.
You can’t organize your content. What if your business offers multiple products or services? Your audience will have to find them by scrolling through a linear feed, sorted by date alone. Web users are used to, and expect, to find the information they need in mere seconds. Forcing potential customers to scroll blindly through a chronologically linear Facebook feed for basic service or product info is a surefire way to drive them to your competitors website, especially if they check to see if you have one first and see that you don’t!
To be utilized effectively, Facebook requires constant attention. You will constantly have to post your products and services, as the lifespan of of a post is around five hours, with the first two being most important for building your audience and getting those clicks. If a follower does not frequently click on your posts, they may stop seeing all your future posts. To maintain your reach, even with current followers, you have to continually engage them or else Facebook’s algorithms will consider them to be unengaged. Web content, conversely, has a lifespan entirely of your choosing.
Facebook is the epitome of distraction. The average Facebook user subscribes to hundreds of friend’s feeds and many business feeds. All are competing with you, and in a very real sense, as much as an actual business competitor. Thus, the lifespan of your post, and the attention span of your audience is extremely fleeting. A website, on the other hand, is all about your business and is extremely stable over time.
Trending. Like any other social network, Facebook is subject to the whims of its users. Some hot new social network may pop up tomorrow and bleed Facebook of its user base. If Facebook is the crux of your web presence, all of your online marketing potential will be lost. Remember MySpace? Your own website lives or dies or changes on your terms and schedule.
What expectations do you have of your Facebook Audience? The overwhelming majority of Facebook users follow a business page simply to be notified of sales or promotions and free giveaways. Specific breakdowns of products and services are typically not of interest to the average Facebook user, and are much better utilized on a website. The most successful Facebook posts, the ones that get Likes, Shares, and Click-Throughs, contain only forty characters. Try to market any service or product using forty only letters and you’ll likely end up writing Haiku. Forty characters can work, but such short posts are most often used to drive Facebook users to websites with more complete information.
Legitimacy. Anyone can set up a business page on Facebook. Being on par with a standard business practice, such as having a company website, will legitimize your company in your potential customers’ eyes. You will simply appear to be more professional, and thus be taken more seriously by your audience, and be held in higher esteem. A website is your 24-hour virtual storefront, representing your business to the world, working for you even on your off hours. Not having a website is akin to not having a physical location or office, your perceived legitimacy will suffer.
THE BIGGEST reason; no personalized SEO! Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the backbone of the internet, and Facebook is simply not geared to effectively relate your content to search engines, such as Google or Bing. When people don’t know the names of companies that offer a service they need, they search online for the service itself, and only become aware of service providers after the fact. In most cases, your customers will have to know your name before they can even find you on Facebook. Ignoring the ever-important SEO that a website offers is not beneficial when trying to reach new customers or clients.
Facebook is a terrific marketing tool, but it works best in conjunction with the more complete and stable web presence that only a website can offer. A Facebook page is simply not a substitute for a website.