Ah yes, the ongoing debate of website vs. social media for building your online presence. Nearly everyone uses social media these days – athletes, celebrity chefs, the queen of England, even your great aunt Helen.
Many business owners jump on a social media platform because that’s where all the people are – Facebook alone boasts 2.7 billion active users. Social platforms are great at what they do – connecting people across the world – but they can be dangerous and ineffective for business owners wishing to establish a strong online presence.
Maintaining a presence on social media is a valuable part of your overall marketing plan, but is relying on social media alone a sound marketing strategy? Let’s talk about why it is risky to put all of your business eggs in a social media basket.
Losing Ownership of Your Content
Simply put, you do not own your social media page, and you never will. All of the content you post – text, photos, product information – is owned by the host, whether Facebook, Instagram or the like. The same holds true for data pertaining to the connections and followers of your page.
When you sign up for a social media account, you are agreeing to the site’s terms and conditions and relinquish control of these items. You don’t own your content or your audience on a social media platform.
What’s more, you cannot control how your content is used, opening the door to potential branding issues. When you sign up for a public social media page, you agree that all users are authorized to share and re-distribute your content.
All of your content can be shared, for better or worse, on another user’s personal profile or in a private group where you cannot see how your content is used or discussed. As a business owner, it’s hard to take ownership of your brand message when you don’t know how your brand is being represented.
Risking Selective Restrictions or Cancellation
Social media sites can also remove any content as they see fit. In today’s polarized political environment with “cancel culture” running rampant, business owners are aware now more than ever that what they say and do affects the bottom line.
Not only are customers watching, so are social networks. Every post is scrutinized to ensure it follows a site’s terms and conditions. If it doesn’t comply, it’s out.
While abusive or offensive posts are obviously flagged, seemingly harmless comments can be removed as well. Recently, Twitter locked a profile after the account holder, a business owner, jokingly encouraged followers to get out and vote on November 4 (the day after the election), cutting off his connection to clients. Social networks can restrict anything they do not agree with, and there is very little you can do about it.
Getting Lost in Changing Trends
Social networks that are “in” today can be “out” tomorrow. For every Facebook, there are hundreds of social sites that didn’t make it. When is the last time you heard someone talk about checking their Vine, MySpace or Friendster account?
In April 2019, Google shut down its own social network Google+ due to dwindling engagement and a significant data breach, taking with it all data not saved prior to the shutdown. If your business was using Google+ as your online presence, that would have been the end of your connection to customers.
Additionally, keep in mind that platform ownership can change, or its central focus can shift to no longer support business pages. This could spell trouble for business owners only using social networks with no outside website.
Narrowing Your Audience and Accessibility
The whole point of taking your business online is to reach more customers, but that is hard to do if they cannot find or access your site.
With recent studies and documentaries regarding social media’s negative impact on society, there is a growing trend to limit social media usage or move away from it altogether. Be aware that not all of your clients use social media, and it is possible many current users may go offline in the not too distant future.
Also note that not everyone enjoys social media. For many people, the road to hell is paved with likes and hashtags. If these individuals can only find you on a social media platform, you’ve instantly lost them.
By relying on social media platforms alone to market your business, you inadvertently create a barrier of entry. If someone is required to sign in to a social media account they rarely use, or create a new account on a platform they are not familiar with, they may simply opt to find another business to meet their needs.
Limiting Your Search Engine Exposure
If you are doing business online, search engine optimization (SEO) should be a top priority. SEO increases the quality and quantity of traffic to your website through organic search engine results, using keywords specific to your business. SEO helps you land on page 1 of search engine results, instead of getting buried on page 5.
The better visibility your website has in search results, the higher your chances of attracting potential and existing clients to your website. While social media pages do allow for SEO customization, it is more challenging to build an SEO-friendly page within the set templates.
A true business website can be specifically tailored to maximize SEO more than a social media site ever could. Plus, a social page will not rank over a website in an organic online search.
Missing Out on Client Views
All social media sites use algorithms to choose which posts users see, and in what order, every time they check their newsfeed. These algorithms determine who pops up on your newsfeed based on who you interact with the most.
This is why posts about your favorite college football team and pictures of your best friend’s puppy always appear on your feed, while that guy you haven’t seen since high school graduation is nowhere to be seen.
The same holds true for business pages. If your customers are not actively and repeatedly engaging with your page, your business posts won’t make it through the algorithm to your intended audience, especially if you have not paid to turn your post into an ad. If you can’t guarantee placement in a newsfeed, you are losing out on potential customers.
Website vs Social Media
The Bottom Line? You really need a website.
Social media is important for digital marketing efforts, but as a business owner you cannot limit your online presence to just social networks.
Your clients should be able to find your company online every time they search, without fail. Don’t make it difficult for them by counting on unreliable social platforms alone. In the ongoing website vs social media debate, the bottom line is – you need a website for your business.
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