Think you can run your business on social media? Think again.
Social media is undoubtedly a useful tool for your business but, recently, some small businesses have started using the platform as a foundation for their brand, prioritising apps like Facebook and Instagram over having and maintaining their own business website. It’s easy to see the appeal – no setup cost; familiar, easy-to-use interface; limited overheads; wide reach. However, there are some drawbacks to relying on social media alone for your online presence.
Consumers expect your business to have a website
Can you remember the last time you picked up the Yellow Pages? I can’t. We’ve made the transition. Where once we’d be flipping, the majority of people looking for businesses to fulfil their needs are clicking, turning to the internet for information and solutions. It’s become the norm. So, if you’re a business owner who still thinks the Yellow Pages relevant, it’s time to catch up.
Everything is online these days. If you need to find a restaurant near you, you Google it. You need someone reliable to fix your busted tire? Google it. You need someone to help you with online marketing? Google it (or give Netregistry a call!). Since ‘to Google’ became a verb commonly used in modern vernacular, consumers have come to expect established and reliable businesses to have an accessible website. If you don’t, it throws your credibility into question.
Show customers you are committed to your business by purchasing and managing your very own piece of online real estate – a website. It’s fundamental to your business’ online presence and can benefit you on a vaster scale than social media ever could. The bottom line is, if your business doesn’t have a website and your competitors do, guess where the consumer is going? Don’t lose potential customers by missing the biggest, most obvious online marketing boulder for your business.
A website is an online business hub; social media is a marketing tool
It’s important to distinguish between websites and social media tools because they have entirely different functions. A website is owned entirely by a business and the content presented to the public via the site is controlled by that business. This provides a clear brand to customers and presents endless possibilities to obtain and convert prospective customers. It is a place for customers and prospects alike to come and gather all the information they need about your brand, all in the one place. As such, your website acts as a business hub.
Social media, on the other hand, is a marketing tool; a platform you can use to promote your business hub. To run your business entirely on social media is to carry a bicycle bell and claim you’re cycling. A bicycle is made up of more than just the bell, just as a business should be made up of more than just social media. More to that analogy, the bell’s only function is to alert passers-by, just as social media performs the same function online for your business. It should be used to attract customers, and maybe even make some conversions; but you really do need a website to back this up with the information and integrity a customer needs to see to take the leap and trust your brand.
Take full control of your online presence
While social media may appear to give you the freedom to present your business the way you want, platforms like Facebook and Instagram are governed by external parties. Changes to the algorithm, i.e. recent changes to the reach of business pages in the Facebook newsfeed, can hit your business hard, especially if you rely solely on social media to find customers.
Regardless of the platform, these changes are entirely at the discretion of the owner and can come at any time. Most social media platforms are free today but they may decide to charge to host a business page tomorrow. While unlikely, they could also completely remove the capacity for businesses to advertise. If you’ve built your business purely on social media and it changes drastically, it could be fatal. Take fate into your own hands by creating a website that sets your business up for enduring success.
Websites help you save time and money
A website is a long-term investment. The up-front costs are significant. However, for the time and money you could save in the long run, it’s absolutely worth the outlay.
While Facebook and Instagram allow you to post updates to your wall, there is no way to organise this information for easy access and perusal. A business website gives you the ability to provide your customers with clear, easy-to-find information about what you offer. This streamlines the sales process, saving you both the time and money it takes to respond.
To really get the most out of your social media, experts suggest that you put a budget behind it. These costs are not once-off, they’re ongoing. If you set your website up professionally to begin with and optimise your site to rank well on search engines, your large once-off investment can often run on its own with only minor tweaks to content and SEO updates every once in a while. This is a much smaller investment for a much larger gain. Not everyone is on social media but everyone has access to an internet search engine, so having a website at the centre of your business is the logical approach to take.
While social media is a wonderful advertising tool, you should rely on it as a foundation for your business. Many people think a social media presence is enough to keep a business running but, in the long-term, a professional website is the smarter choice. If you’re ready to take the next steps in building your business online, take a look at our Website Checklist to help you launch your very own business website. Don’t forget, Netregistry is always here to help get you online. From DIY Website options to Websites Done For You, we’ve got you covered, so you can focus on doing what you do best.