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Social This, Social That….Why On Earth Do I Still Need a Website???

Social This, Social That….Why On Earth Do I Still Need a Website???

Just as  “Video Killed the Radio Star” back in the 1980s, social media is definitely dealing a fatal blow to websites today.  Many companies -small businesses in particular – are abandoning their websites in favor of the “social” pages such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.  As a marketing strategist, when a client comes to me inquiring about making social media their only online presence, I strongly advise against it.  I then point out what makes websites such valuable real estate on the internet, which we will discuss shortly.  I also explain how social media and websites can work together to help boost their business.

Let’s examine some practical reasons why a website is still important for any business who wants to be competitive in today’s marketplace:

Websites provide a centralized “go to” location for a consumer to learn about your business

Let’s face it, the information you are able to provide about your business through social sites is very limited.  In most cases, you have a character limit.  This makes it very difficult to highlight your products and/or services or feature certain aspects of your business.  A website provides a centralized hub where people can learn more about your company, products and services.  You can include testimonials, product descriptions, articles, tips, frequently asked questions, etc.  Social sites are not designed to deliver such in-depth information in one easy-to-navigate location.You can, however, use your social sites to “promote” specific  products, testimonials, deal of the day… by posting a direct link to these areas of your website.  This is one example of how social sites and your website can work in harmony together.

You own and control your website

In most cases, you own your website. There are some website developers and companies who retain ownership of a website and will charge high fees and penalties if a business chooses to change providers.  When hiring a website developer, make sure you own the final product and retain the right to have any company you choose maintain it.  If you own your website, you do not need to worry about changes in terms of use, how it appears or its interface.  You own it – you control it.  Facebook is an example of a social site notorious for frequent policy, interface and appearance changes.  And, everything you post becomes “property” of Facebook., whether you eventually delete your page or not.   If you ever decide to abandon a social site because of a policy change, you will lose all of the work you put into it. Having a website you control is imperative to building and preserving your brand and online presence.

Websites can incorporate an e-commerce function so you can sell products and/or services online

If you ever want to sell your products and/or services online, a website is the easiest, most efficient way to do it. Websites can be built with an e-commerce function and payment portal.  While there are ways to sell online using Facebook, be advised that you do not own or have full control over your shopping cart.  Additionally, when someone visits your Facebook business page or shopping cart, Facebook delivers relevant ads to your customers.  Since you have no control over these ads, they could be promoting your competitors.

Websites provide a “landing” area for blog posts and longer articles that can be linked to from social sites

A website provides more flexibility when it comes to re-posting any articles or blog posts you write.  Having the ability to link back to the full text allows you to provide your followers with the full article rather than an abbreviated version based on character count restrictions.  Social sites and blogs attached to websites work hand-in-hand.  Social sites provide the perfect mechanism to promote your articles, while blog posts generate ongoing content for your social media platforms.  This is definitely a win-win!

Websites can be customized

Social sites are built on templates which allow for little or no customization.  Everyone’s “page” follows the same basic format.  A website, however, can be built and customized to represent your own personal style and preferences.  Design options are virtually endless, allowing you (or your developer) to create custom visuals and incorporate add-ons and function to make your site unique and engaging.

Today’s small business websites are too affordable to pass up!

Websites once cost a fortune to develop. Just like flat screen televisions, the cost to build a quality, eye-catching website has decreased tremendously. If you are on a tight budget, don’t be afraid to start small.  You can always expand your website as your budget allows.

Remember, social media should be considered a complement to traditional marketing strategies.  It is NOT a replacement.  In the case of your website, social media can help boost SEO and draw more people in to gain a more comprehensive understanding of your products and/or services.  Properly integrated and executed, a carefully planned social media/website strategy can offer quite an impressive return on investment. Good luck!

About Author : Gina Smith is a marketing strategist specializing in helping small businesses, non-profit organizations and agencies become more profitable through strategic planning, marketing, media relations and resource development. Smith writes freelance articles for magazines, online outlets and publications for companies including GlobalResponse.com. She covers the latest topics in the business, golf, tourism, technology and entertainment industries.

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