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Social media instead of your own website? 

26-Jun-2012

There are currently over 30 million Facebook users in the UK. Many young entrepreneurs are, therefore, wondering whether a social media presence for their business can completely replace a conventional website.

And why not? After all, much points to the fact that greater customer activity takes place on social media platforms such as Facebook than is otherwise the case on the Internet. For instance, 29.5 million fans have already 'liked' the Facebook fan page from Starbucks. On the other hand, only a fraction of this number visits the company’s own website. The same goes for Coca-Cola and other consumer brands.

Why social media alone is not enough

Social media platforms are without question a valuable and modern supplement to a brand presence on the Internet. However, they are not an alternative. Many business people who limited themselves solely to a Facebook page have since back-pedalled.

That’s because the one-sided concentration in the social media sphere entails risks:

  • A high volume of Internet users still do not engage in social media and are not reached by companies who only have a presence on Facebook. On other social networks the difference is even more marked.
  • Major companies such as Facebook, Apple or Google are behind social media networks and apps. You basically rent just one space from them – on their terms and conditions. These change on a frequent basis, and not always to the benefit of the customer.
  • People are dependent on the technical possibilities of the platform. Unfortunately, that also severely limits the possibilities in matters of corporate design. All company websites essentially follow the same modular principle and differ from one another in the same way as a row of terraced houses on a new estate – in other words, hardly at all.
  • The nice thing about a ‘social-only’ presence is, of course, the low cost of setting it up – compared to a fantastically designed website. However, the ratio evens itself out over time, because in order for a fan page to work, it must continually provide new, attractive content, and that also costs money.

Like left and right sides of the brain

It basically makes no sense to pit social media and your own website against each other. You may as well compare an apple to a pear. Or the left and right sides of the brain. Why?

A customer visits a website to get information on a product or service. Journalists look for research sources. Suppliers check for alterations and news. In short, people who visit a website expect facts and figures. On Facebook or Google Plus, on the other hand, they want to share information, post comments, have a little fun, build up relationships, follow recommendations, etc.

Information on your own website; relationships on a fan page – both are necessary for a well-rounded presence on the Internet. The buzz on social media platforms increases the relevance of the information on your own website. However, it should still always be seen as the business card of a brand on the Internet. That is why the question should never be one of ‘either/or’, but rather one of how you bring both together as efficiently as possible in order to offer the customer a brand experience that is as consistent as possible.