It’s the great social media versus website debate.
This question comes up a lot during conversations about how awesome social media is for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
If you’re savvier than the average business owner on social media, congratulations! According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 65% of Americans use social networking sites. So if you are using all of the social sites and gaining likes, followers and fans every day, do you really need a website?
Social Media vs Website
In short, yes. Social media is wonderful. It’s the greatest thing to happen to humans since the invention of the bread slicer (IMO), and can provide a tremendous boost for small business. Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest are all optimized for local search, meaning that when your business has a consistent presence on these platforms you show up higher in search results.
However, when it comes to your business, social media is the equivalent of living in a rent-controlled apartment with no lease. Yes, your landlord has agreed to allow you to occupy this space for free (social media), but on the day that your landlord decides to change the terms of occupancy and you’re found to be in violation of those new terms, you’re outta there.
Question – have you read the terms and conditions for Facebook? Instagram? Twitter? Probably not because you’re focused on how awesome your future posts and tweets are going to be. So, if your favorite social platform changes their terms and your awesome account full of your awesome tweets gets canceled, with no advance notice, your business is officially homeless. What would you do?
This is why having a website is important. While social media is free and great, you can’t bet the future of your business on it because you’re not in control. Your website is YOURS (provided you’ve purchased your URL.), and that cannot be taken away from you (unless you stop paying for hosting). As long as you have a website your business will always have an online presence.
I advocate for business owners to exploit every opportunity that is afforded by social media; showcase your products, build your audience, introduce your team, etc. However, these actions should also be taking place on your website, and elevated to make a bigger impact with your audience.
Social media should be the supportive partner to your website; not the primary actor in your marketing strategy. Get a website.