The marketing world is spinning around social media these days, with more than 2 million businesses in the United States lighting up channels such as Facebook and LinkedIn to reach prospective customers. So what of websites? Was that a trend of yesteryear?
Truth is, some small businesses are moving away from websites. B2B marketing research suggests about one-fifth of companies choose social over websites as their means of reaching customers on the web, a decision they say is driven largely by cost concerns. Those businesses are part of the one-third of small businesses overall that don’t currently have a website for whatever reason.
So what should you do? Do you invest dollars into an online storefront? Our recommendation is yes. Here’s why: Facebook and Instragram are great avenues for connecting with the customers most invested in your brand. But if you think you can make your digital home strictly on social, you should really think again.
There are a few big reasons for that, starting with risk. Social media companies regularly change their algorithms in an attempt to better serve their customers. That means your business, right? Not exactly. Facebook, for example, recently undertook a major effort to promote more personal content, tweaking its algorithm to favor posts from individuals over those published by professional organizations. By maintaining your own website, you can keep absolute control over the core of your digital footprint, including the content your customers see and the data they leave behind. That’s a benefit you don’t get when a massive outside corporation is at the wheel.
Another reason why you should have your own website is because they’ve become something customers expect to find. While a good portion of small businesses don’t have a website, more than half of those currently without have told survey-takers that they intend to build one in the near future. Customers perceive a strong, professional-looking web presence as a mark of credibility for the companies they do business with. If nothing else, simply not checking that box could turn off a would-be client.
Finally, a website can do wonders in boosting your visibility online through the power of SEO, or search engine optimization. By taking advantage of the real estate of a website, you can put SEO to work for you. Fact is, content is still king. While you should publish regularly to all your social media channels, your website is an excellent publishing platform that will get hits on local searches and drive real traffic from people looking for information.
The good thing about all of this is that you don’t have to choose between site and social. You can have the best of both worlds.