Last month, Facebook announced that there were more than 40 million active business pages on its site. Given the worldwide popularity of Facebook, one might start to wonder whether or not it’s even necessary to have a business website. Can Facebook alone provide your business with a web presence?
Don’t shut down your business website just yet
For the small business owner, who’s always in a hurry and 10 steps behind, the idea of trading a business website for a Facebook page may be attractive, but hold that thought. Here’s why your business Facebook page can enhance your website, but probably isn’t going to replace it anytime soon.
Engagement. One of the key features of Facebook is engagement. It’s a tool to allow one person or business to engage with another person or business. The key is that the attraction is mutual. Unfortunately people usually don’t maintain the kind of relationships with businesses that they do with other people. When the mutuality of your relationship wears off, a person can easily drop the business out of their Facebook news feed.
Paying for likes. Facebook has modified its strategy for businesses. In the not-too-distant past, a business on Facebook had the same standing that an individual did, making it easy to slip product advertisements into a massive number of individual news feeds. Today, it’s not all that easy to get information from person to person on Facebook anymore. In fact, businesses usually have to pay for that kind of advertising. Businesses like Target or Walmart probably have the budgets to do that. Small businesses that were hoping to take advantage of “word-of-mouth” probably can’t sustain an effective, long-term, low-cost Facebook advertising strategy.
Design limitations. If you’ve seen one Facebook page, you’ve seen ’em all, right? On Facebook, the page administrator (individual or business) can add (and remove) posts, pictures, videos, header images and make other similar “changes” to the content, but the users don’t really change the way a Facebook page looks, feels or acts. For a business, having “display control” is having brand control. Conversely, not having display control is giving up some control over the brand – and when you don’t own it, you don’t control it.
Usability may suffer. People have certain expectations when they’re visiting a business website. They may want to find out basic information about a business – location, hours, phone number – and Facebook can do that. They also may want to find out other things. What’s in on-hand inventory? Does the closest physical store have what I want? Can I buy this now and have it shipped to Idaho? I want to register for an event. I want to know the dimensions of this widget. What was the name of that executive I met three months ago at that business breakfast?
Facebook’s not so good at providing the content experience that most customers want. If you’re looking to replace your Yellow Pages listing, Facebook’s a good substitute. If you’re looking to replace your business website, both you and your customers will be in for a disappointment.
Facebook (and other social media outlets) are great additions to your overall small business marketing strategy, but they’re not replacements for your business website. You can’t make a meal using just your spice rack, but you can use spices to make your dinner taste fabulous. In the same way, Facebook and other social media outlets probably won’t ever replace your business website, but they can make your user’s content experience outstanding.
If you would like more information about how you can effectively use Facebook together with your business website, please contact our Creative Director, Dave Ramsell or give Dave a call at (330) 243-0651 to set up a consultation.
Photo Credit: Facebook