Is a website better than social media? What prompted me to ask this question? Well, I had a message from an old acquaintance the other day asking if I built websites. My first thought was (bearing in mind they do rubbish collection) “why do you want a website?” They don’t sell online, they get most of their current work from their personal Facebook, why not just maximise on that?
That then got me to thinking about how people think that they need a website. You can see why they assume that they do. Everyone has one don’t they? If you don’t have a website how do you expect to survive in today’s modern world? Of course, this is very tongue in cheek and plenty of highly successful businesses do really well without a website. So, I thought I would try and answer the question “is a website better than social media”. This may take some time so grab a cuppa.
Does a Business Need a Website?
First of all let’s establish the need. You may think, especially in this day and age, that the answer is a resounding ‘yes’ but I happen to think it depends on a number of factors:
- Type of business – and whether you will sell products or offer services online
- Objective of website – to reach more people that are looking for what you have using a search engine
- How local your business is – is a website necessary if you just cover a 10 mile radius?
- What the competition is like – do all of your competitors have one (not necessarily a reason to have a website)
- If you can reach more people using other methods
Does a Business Need a Website?
Is it a myth that a business has to have a website? I have a website, I have a few in fact, and therefore, I know first-hand how tough it can be to manage, how long they can take to gain traffic and how tricky it can be to stay on top of everything with fresh content. Luckily today, I am in the mood to create content so this one (as you can see by its length) is actually not a chore. Not only that but I am fairly tech savvy so I can manage my own websites and hosting much of the time myself.
I can assure you though that they aren’t always this easy to create and often sitting the top of my things to do list is ‘write a blog for my website’. Perhaps my next blog should be an advice piece on how to stay motivated when it comes to your business blog! A business website doesn’t always offer a return on investment, especially when you consider how much it can cost if you don’t have the technical know how to build one yourself. I have to be brutally honest, I use this website that you are on now to blog, to share my experience, knowledge and to help other businesses. I don’t use it to sell and I don’t think I’ve ever picked up a client from it. I can tell you that I have had at least two clients from my Facebook page though.
If you don’t know what you are doing, don’t have the time to dedicate to keeping it updated and just want a website because you feel like you should then you could be wasting your money.
What Does a Website Actually Do?
A website is another tick on the marketing list of things you could have but sometimes, and especially for smaller business like tradesmen, most of the time it just sits there online like the book you started reading 3 years ago that has been in your bedside drawer ever since. It’s there, it’s good but what does it actually do? Is it serving a purpose or is it just some nice words and pretty design that no one will see?
At this point I should apologise to web developers everywhere because there is no doubt that websites are important and that for some businesses, they just can’t survive without one. If you sell products but you don’t sell online for example, you are missing out on a potential revenue stream. If you offer information, have lots of work to show people and need to showcase your projects, a website is an important tool. If you don’t have a premises for people to visit, a website on the internet is like a showroom on a High Street. I am not saying that you don’t need a website. I am just asking the question is a website better than social media for your particular business.
Why Might Social Media Be Better?
This isn’t an article that shouts about how great social media is and how websites are rubbish – not at all. I am just offering up an unbiased view on whether you are better investing your time and money into a website or maximising the resources available on a platform like Facebook. If you are a new business and you don’t have a lot of budget to invest, Facebook, Instagram and the other platforms are certainly a cheaper option but it’s not all about cost:
If you use social media then you know what you are doing and you have some understanding of how it works. If you can update your status then you can post something on a business page. Using your personal account you can set yourself up a business page without too much bother and have control over it along with instant access. A website is a bit trickier. You often have to update it from your laptop rather than a phone
Sometimes you have to invest rather a lot of money in a website to get it to do what it needs to. Not only do you have to pay for hosting and the cost of the build, you also have to consider optimisation, how you are going to get it seen, what you need to do to keep it update etc. With social media, your only cost will be whatever you decide to spend on ads (if you do choose to do this).
How many friends do you have on Facebook? Straight away you can invite them to like your business page and you can ask them to share it. It’s all kept within the same site – they don’t have to go off to a website to do what you are asking – they can just share your page, your updates, you blogs, your posts. It’s far easier to reach people with a Facebook post than it is with a website update. That said you can use your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to share your website but then you are pushing the content further into a funnel.
You can use so many different features of a platform like Facebook to share the information you would on a website. There is an about section, somewhere for people to see the services you offer, a reviews tab, a constant stream of posts (if you update your newsfeed).
There are a wealth of tools that can help you stay in touch in real time with your customers. Facebook lives, Instagram lives, posting to social when you have something to say. It’s a lot harder to keep this much fresh content and talk directly to your customer from a website. Social media is instant, in the moment and able to be updated with a few swipes of a screen.
Consider Your Audience Behaviour
How do people find you currently? Do they ask their friends on Facebook? Man with a van is probably the top of the list of things I see people asking for. Plumbers, gardeners, driving instructors… all are popular in the recommendations section of Facebook. Then come the raft of tags where the world and its dog tag their mates business pages.
But They May Search on Google Instead
It may well be that the service you offer is something that people will search for on Google. If everyone is looking for a “driving instructor near me” then obviously you should have a website right? Not necessarily. Let’s look at why it’s not that easy:
What Are Your Competitors Doing?
Now, this is always how I used to sell advertising space back in the day. If your competitor is doing it then surely you should be! True enough but what if the competitor is throwing thousands of pounds at it and ranking top for every single phrase? What if there are a list of competitors already filling up that first page of Google? Do you have the time and money to invest to mix it with them? New websites take time to establish themselves in search engines. It could take a year or more of regular blogs, optimisation techniques etc to make it to the first page for the phrases you want to rank for and to catch up with or outrank your competitors.
Do You Need Business Now?
If you are looking to become busy in the short term, a website is not the answer. It’s a longer game. If you feel that by the time your website is working for you, you will be busy enough, why are you doing it? A website is not something that is going to answer all of your problems. You won’t suddenly become busy the moment you launch a website. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.
Reasons for a Website
If you want a 3-5 page website that simply acts as a point of reference to give you that professional edge and something to work on for the future, then a website is worth having. Here are the reasons we believe you should have a website:
- Professional – gives a company kudos to have a website
- Somewhere to share your work
- A platform to sell your products
- Share your knowledge and experience in the form of a blog
- Tell people in detail what you do
- A booking system
- A calendar of events
- Communicate with your audience
If you can do it yourself, or get a mate to do it then all the better. Using a hosting package that comes with managed WordPress will give you a solution that’s easy to manage yourself. There are many to choose from but choose one that gives you hosting and managed WordPress all in one place. Even a mate doing it for you can use the log in details to build your website.
Why Not Have Both?
In an ideal world, you would have a digital presence that covers as many platforms as is possible/relevant. Social media and websites work really well together to bring your brand to the greatest audience possible. You can share your website to social and you can embed your social links on your website – all of this brings together for a holistic approach to digital marketing. While those searching for your business may use Google to find what they are looking for, there are those that will see your products or services on social media and be drawn in by your ad, latest post or a friend recommendation. They may also ask for a recommendation on Facebook because its easy. To ensure you are covering all your bases, we would recommend having a social media and a website presence that compliment each other and work together to grow your audience and brand.
Conclusion: Is a Website Better Than Social Media?
There is no right or wrong answer to the question ‘is a website better than social media’. The question may be better put this way: ‘is a website better than social media for your business’ or ‘how can I get the best out of my digital marketing?’. Every business is different with its own goals and objectives. Many will benefit from a good website while others may find it’s not much more than another tick in a box however, it does give you another string to your marketing bow. If you would like to leave your thoughts, please do so below.
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