Do you need to have a website or can you just build your brand and get new clients using Facebook only? Is it worth it to set up a website if you are already posting your new products and special offers on Facebook? Should I still give Facebook my attention if I already have a full online-shop? Is social media better or worse than a website?
Let's see these questions in a different light - "Which is better for your business; your phone or your email?"
The reality is that your Facebook page and your website are tools that you can apply to your business to achieve your goals. Both have their strong and weak points, like any tool is better suited for one task than another. This is why it is wise to have more than one tool in your toolbox and why it is beneficial to combine them well.
Imagine the following scenario...
You go to a casual party where you meet loads of new people, friends, friends of friends and people who you have never knew existed. There are many people there who are interesting to you and potentially you are interesting to them and so you start mingling and sparking off conversations (possibly through some introductions from your friends). You start talking about your life and they talk about theirs, they ask you what you do for a living and you ask them.
Now picture this, while the people you are speaking to are showing you pictures of how cute their new puppy is, you spontaneously jump in and ask them:
"Hey, I've got a special offer on children's socks this month: wanna buy a pack of 3 for the price of 2?"
This might sound exaggerated and completely something you wouldn't do but in reality it is how most businesses use their Facebook pages. Facebook is social, it is where people come together to engage each other, talk, express emotions and share items of interest about their lives. Your website is your shop, where people can fully view your products and understand how you can help them with your services.
Now image this one instead...
At the same party, being a social person with an eye for opportunity, you hear the lady speaking to you say that she has 3 kids. You sell quality kids' clothing and this might be an opportunity to make a new client. You therefore find a sensible time during the conversation to say that you see kids all the time every day since you sell kids' clothing at your store. If this person has any interest at all in kids' clothing, she will probably say something like:
"Oh really? Good to know cause my kids have worn theirs out and I need to buy them some new ones this winter".
You can easily reply - "Why don't come some-time while I am there and I can show you some great new stock we've got?".
Facebook is awesome at getting you to meet new people and sparking off interest in what you offer (like the party in the above example) but it is your website where people will really see what you can offer them, go through samples, find out about your special offers and new stock and learn how to use your products to improve their lives.
You can therefore leverage Facebook's ability to introduce you to people and then invite these people to your well prepared, fully operational, open-for-business website to discuss some proper business!
Nowadays, it is much more affordable to get your own website. You can get your very own, professional, customize-able website for as little as EUR 880.
Let's Compare Some Advantages
• Facebook already has access to all of your customers. Even if you are not making a big marketing effort, your page is still likely to find some traffic just by existing within Facebook's giant network, and that traffic is more likely to build virally as people click the 'like' button. This is especially true if you are generating some interesting content through your posts.
• Casual and humanizing, yet powerful branding. Social media encourages back and forth interaction between you and your audience. This is more humanizing and casual as it resembles human conversation more closely than a one-way of flow of information, thus allowing you to easily communicate and build relationships. You can better communicate your business’s values, mission and purpose, through your updates and responses, which builds loyalty to your brand.
• Free and easy. Setting up a page on Facebook is free and it is very easy to upload images and engage with your audience. It is quite low maintenance and does not require a huge commitment from your end to just keep it going
Advantages of using a website
• More sales. With your own website, you have more leeway to communicate with and sell to your customers. A website not only has more space to market your business; but you can include more marketing features such as videos, customers reviews, blogs and special promotional offers. People can see more than your latest posts - they can view your products by category, search for specific items, view full screen images and multiple images of the same products as well as read more information about what you can offer them or even download resources like price lists and product specifications. Furthermore, you can get people to take action; any number of actions! You can get people to now only contact you but request a quotation, get a consultation, buy directly or leave their details in your mailing list in return for downloadable information, special offers or a chance to win in a competition.
• Stronger brand image. Consumers expect companies to have websites nowadays and a company without a website will inevitably look less serious, cheap and less credible. People simply trust a business more if it has a website, probably because it has become such a standard communication tool that if you do not have it, it is implied that your business either does not afford it or does not care enough.
• Saves time and resources. Most consumers prefer to get a business’s information online. If you make your website a useful source of self-service information, it can reduce your operating costs. You can include any valuable information that your clients need from FAQs to instructions on using your products, Google maps to find your shops faster and support forms for your after-sales service.
• You're at no-one's mercy. While Facebook isn't likely to disappear any time soon, that doesn't mean that Facebook will not make changes at any time that critically and at any instant lay waste to your well-laid plans. As the well-known proverb goes, 'Man plans, Mark Zuckerberg laughs'.
• Your very own space - no competitor's adverts. Facebook places advertising in the right sidebar on pages. This makes it very possible that if your competition is advertising, their ads will appear directly opposite your own content. Furthermore, since you’re in complete control, consumers do not ask questions and voice their feedback and complaints directly on your page, allowing any ill-wishing person to damage your image before you even know what is happening.
Finally, the real reason not to depend on Facebook alone - THE REACH FORMULA!
How many likes does your business page have on Facebook? 400, 5K or even 30K? You might or might not already know this, but whatever the number of likes on your page is, only a small fraction of those people will see your posts. In fact, as time goes by, you will always reach less and less of your fan-base on Facebook through your posts, making your fan-base less valuable for your business even though you are constantly feeding it.
Why does this happen?
While this seems like Facebook is out to mess with your business, it is in-fact protecting its quality and giving you a better experience while using your favourite social media. Imagine this: every time you visit your News Feed there are on average 1,500 potential stories from your friends, people you follow and pages to see (if someone has lots of friends and Likes lots of Pages, that number could balloon to 15,000). Most people don’t have enough time to see all these posts; which include anything from your best-friend's wedding photos, to the guy you once spoke to at a party for 2 minutes (and for some reason added you to his friend collection) posting about a fat-free lunch he just had.
With so many posts, chances are you would miss something you really wanted to see if Facebook simply displayed everything after each other without any ranking by importance, making the number of stories people read and the likes and comments they make decrease. A negative Facebook experience.
So how does News Feed know which of those 1,500 stories to show? By letting people decide who and what to connect with, and by listening to feedback. When a user likes something, that tells News Feed that they want to see more of it; when they hide something, that tells News Feed to display less of that content in the future. This allows it to prioritize an average of 300 stories out of these 1,500 stories to show each day.
According to Facebook's News Feed Director of Product Management, Will Cathcart, the most powerful determinants of whether a post is shown in the feed are:
• How popular (Liked, commented on, shared, clicked) are the post creator’s past posts with everyone
• How popular is this post with everyone who has already seen it
• How popular have the post creator’s past posts been with the viewer
• Does the type of post (status update, photo, video, link) match what types have been popular with the viewer in the past
• How recently was the post published
In a few words...
The total number of Pages Liked by the typical Facebook user grew more than 50% last year(2013) and as people Like more Pages, the organic (not paid) reach of each of those pages drops.
Business owners like yourself tend to feel robbed when this happens. They have invested time and money to build that following because Facebook told them it is a good investment and their followers actively chose to hear from their page by becoming a fan.
But Facebook’s goal is to show people the most engaging posts out of all the ones they could see each day and at the same time earn money showing adverts. This means that it needs people coming back because they see interesting content there and don’t get bored.
In the end, pages have to work harder and harder to stay visible.
The good news is that you do not have to make big decisions on your own when it comes to your online presence. Contact me directly for a free consultation to learn exactly how to manage and improve your web presence.