Social media profiles are free and easy to create, and offer more creative ways to connect your business to many people in local areas than ever before. Still, you shouldn’t use your social media profiles over an official website for your business—yes, even if it's just you. In this article I'm going to breakdown the 5 most important reasons why having an official website over just social media profiles is more powerful.
When potential customers or clients search for your business online, you want to direct them to your official website. And yes, it is partially a "looks" thing and a "first impression" thing—it's also about who you want to attract and how easy you want to make working with you—and on yourself most importantly!
When you take ownership of a domain, you're not only betting on yourself...you are also gaining numerous advantages you can leverage over social media profiles. Having a social media profile has many benefits, but it should not serve as your main business website. Here are the big reasons why that is:
1. Respect and Trust
You need to remember that the key difference between a website and a social network site is reality. So a website very much is like putting pen to paper that your business is real.
On social media anyone can pretend to be anyone—hence why scammers thrive on social media platforms. It takes just a few minutes to craft a simple fake account or an account that boasts it is bigger than it is. And cultivating respect and trust from potential customers or clients is less in your control if you rely on a social network to do business through. So if you want there to be no shadow of a doubt when someone learns about your business, direct them to your secure site (show off that https!).
Also remember that social media is predicated on socializing and attention seeking, and people are less and less interested in being sold to on social media. So Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. aren't the professional terrain you want to your business to build upon in the long run.
SIDE NOTE ABOUT FOR HOME-BASED or SMALL BUSINESSES:
Marketing Monday Threads and all the cutesy social media rituals to help boost the Shop Local movement are wonderful—but when you have a website you can direct people to—whether they're interacting with you first in a Facebook group or some other informal way—when they see that business domain name you proudly chose—it can mean the difference between yes I feel comfortable with going with this person and no I don't.
Now that I'm a mom who uses Facebook groups for staying more connected with my community, I know all too well how important Facebook and Instagram have become to get discovered, for small businesses especially. But if you want to go farther than you are, you can't rely on this pseudo-word-of-mouth strategy long term.
2. Design Control
The most limiting aspect of relying solely on social from a design perspective is having not such a user-friendly way to present your offerings.
Facebook today doesn't look like Facebook 2007, and Facebook 2037 (or META) is certainly going to look and work a lot different. But what won't change is that your business' social media profile will look like thousands of other businesses, all lumped into the same resource. And the reason for that is because the social network of your choosing is a website for that social network—it will refresh its look and functioning for itself, not you. That's why brands and serious businesses hire someone devoted to taking care of your image social media. Otherwise, if it's just you and your employees managing your social profiles, social media can feel like a graphic design nightmare to keep up with if you use it right.
I can't tell you how fun it's been seeing all the trends and changes in standard social media graphics. At one point infographics with the different aspect ratios for posts on the major social networks were lifesavers for the uninitiated, so as to avoid messages getting cropped on mobile or stretched on desktop.
With your own website, you control every aspect of the branding and layout. Not only do you control the look of your website, but you also control the narrative. On social media pages and profiles, some of the first images and posts people may see could be from other users—that's why social media monitoring and management are jobs in and of themself. But if there's any doubt about what's real or what's true (or cannon if you like) about you or your business, your website needs to be the definitive touchstone to set the record straight.
3. Unlimited Access
Ideally, social media profiles should have links to your main website, instead of being the only form of content. Social networks may seem like barrels of fish, but engagement and full access to users is often only granted to people registered with the platform. And with the institution of algorithms in curating content for user timelines, non-paid/organic social media marketing has become a fool's errand—less so for established major brands though.
An official business website is open to anyone using the Internet and when you cast a wider net, more people will find you!
Having a website is also important for advertising. When you create commercials or any form of web content, you can display your official business web address as opposed to a generic social media message. That looks way more legit than a Facebook link. Also, when people search for a business through a social media platform, other businesses with similar names could pop up. What's more profitable to depend on is organic search engine traffic—that's where all the fish are anyway.
Island hoping on the archipelagoes of social networks is fine in your overall marketing strategy, but it's your own ship so-to-speak that you need in order to take you further. To the small business owners out there, go beyond your reef so you don't remain a best-kept local secret. It's faulty to trust that if you're very good, people will want to put effort into finding and working with you no matter what.
4. Contact Information
Social media profiles have cluttered forms of communication and can quickly become complicated and harder to manage—maybe if you relied on solely one social network you could manage fine, but you'd still need to have some kind of system in place to save you time keeping track of communications and orders without negatively impacting your actual business work.
On an official website, you can offer direct forms of communication through a contact form, phone number, email address, etc. You could also add Live Chat Support to help customers directly. And how nice would it feel for someone on your social media profile being pointed to your online support instead of you having to navigate through all the cluttered messages across your social accounts on a daily basis?
5. Direct Sales
I don't want to say that this is the most important reason to have a website, but I can't stress enough how important it is from a profit standpoint to have sales directly through your website and accept payments through your own online shop or payment portal. If you host online shops through a social media profile, many social networks will take commission on sales. You do not want your profits to whittle away when you can have complete control over products you want to feature as well all sales.
Social media is perfect for featuring items and sending people to the direct web pages for those items, but you likely do not want to cut down on profits when you don’t need to. And with your own website you don't have direct competition with other websites or ad links on the side of your webpage, as you do on Facebook and other social networks.
If after reading this article you still don't see the value in buying a cow (website) over just lapping up the free milk (from social media), then I highly encourage you to commit to mastering what you're getting for free—because what you're really getting is free space to roam and hopefully attract new business—and social media isn't the cow. I don't mean to put you off to pasture with those statements, but serious moola is being made by social networks, and small businesses aren't seeing the value they are leaving on the table for social networks to lap up instead.
For more information on creating your website, contact us at Geoffresh.com. Our website designers will help you launch a professional site that acts as the main hub for all of your business needs so you can control your business information online.