Have you ever said, “We don’t have a website, but you can find us on Facebook!”
You’re not alone. Around 30% of businesses (that do not have a website) count on social media for their web presence. And why not? It’s free, right? Why pay for a website when you can use Facebook or Instagram or other social media for free?
I’m glad you asked.
Social media is an important part of most online marketing strategies. However, social media alone is not enough for the average small business to stand out.
For the purposes of this post, I’m going to stick with Facebook in this example. It’s obviously not the only platform out there, but it’s the most popular. It’s also shorter to type than “social media platforms” over and over. So, there’s that.
There are a few disadvantages that most small business owners run into when they rely on Facebook to be their “website”:
#1: Your profile or page is at the mercy of The Algorithm.
Over the years, Facebook has changed a lot. Businesses with a Facebook page enjoyed a fair amount of organic (not paid) reach and growth. That has been changing steadily, and even more recently, it changed again.
Facebook’s algorithm changes regularly, all with the goal of delivering relevant content to its users. It’s a goal that I certainly appreciate. On the flip side of that, businesses typically have to “pay to play” more with each algorithm change.
Helpful reading from Buffer on this topic: Decoding the Facebook Algorithm: A Fully Up-to-Date List of the Algorithm Factors and Changes
Aside from not being as visible to people (without paying), I’ve also seen 10,000+ member groups completely disappear without warning due to having a similar name to another group. Facebook pages are open to the same risk for various reasons. It’s very important to read and stay up to date with Facebook’s Terms and Conditions.
#2: A new and shiny platform comes along every day.
Some businesses make the mistake of chasing every new platform, or trying to do All The Things to keep up with the constantly decreasing attention span of the average person.
While we do recommend staying updated on changing technologies and platforms, when you own your own space, you aren’t at the mercy of the next shiny object. You can test a popular platform to see how it works for your business, but you aren’t locked in with that audience.
You can always learn a new platform, and we encourage that. Change is part of life, and it’s especially fast in today’s online world. Facebook is still the social media giant, and it’s likely to stay at the top for a long time.
#3: It’s much harder to reach most of your followers or leads through social media alone.
This is more about the importance of email marketing, but how do you contact all of your fans at one time on social media? You can make a post, but that won’t guarantee that they’ll see it. Email is still the best way to connect with your leads and potential clients. One of the best ways to gather email addresses from interested, engaged clients (and potential clients) is to use your website effectively. You can create multiple ways to gather email addresses, but that’s a different topic.
Unless you want to pay Facebook and cross your fingers, relying solely on social media to get the word out isn’t effective.
#4: There are limited Search Engine Optimization opportunities available.
SEO – search engine optimization – is what tells Google that your website and content is relevant to the person searching. Google will pull your Facebook page if the content is relevant to the person searching, but you’re limited to what you can put into your profile.
We are big proponents for owning your own space, and not just because that’s what we do for a living. Social media is a fantastic tool for marketing and engaging with your ideal clients, but it should be part of your online strategy, not the foundation.
Your website is yours (if you set it up properly), and everything else should go from there.
I can hear it now:
“That’s all well and good, but where would I even start with a website? I don’t have [time, money, knowledge, etc] to do that right now.”
Since you’re reading this right now, I’m going to assume that you understand how important this is, at least on some level.
I wrote a post a while back about things to consider before DIYing your website (Read the post here). Sometimes doing it yourself is the right thing to do, and other times it could end up costing you more time and money, so it’s worth taking time to research.
Whether you end up building your own or hiring a professional, make sure you own the final product and that you have full control and access. This is why we recommend a self-hosted WordPress website (.org, not .com) over Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, or other similar platforms.
They aren’t bad ideas or bad companies, but for the clients that we work with the most, a self-hosted website is the best option. Owning your own website on a self-hosted platform allows for greater customization, growth, and control. If you’re not sure whether or not you have the right foundation for your website, feel free to drop a line.