How to Get Online

Website or Social Networks?

Social media pages and websites can be effective ways to get your business online. Explore the pros and cons of each to determine what is right for you.

Businesses that actively engage customers online can expect to grow 40% faster than they would without an online presence. Once you’ve registered your company’s domain name, there are a few ways you can use it to build your business’s online presence. Two popular options are 1) redirect or forward your domain name to a social media business page that acts as a temporary stand-in for your website or 2) to build and launch a business website.

Both are proven to be successful in building online presence – you just need to determine which option makes the most sense when it comes to getting your business online. As we’ll show, your business should ideally have a website that works in conjunction with your social media presence, but if that’s not possible, one or the other can still prove useful if implemented correctly.

Let's explore each method to start considering your options:

Social Media

If you’re looking for an option that’s quick to implement and comes with immediate benefits, one simple technique is to register your own Web address via a domain name, and redirect it to the social media page of your choosing. This method (also referred to as domain forwarding) enables you to have a business-branded Web address that offers credibility and ease when promoting your online presence – much better than saying “follow me on Facebook.”

There are many multimedia platforms to leverage when using social media as your online presence, such as Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.

Pros:

  • Quick and free – company profiles are simple to set up and most platforms don’t charge a fee.
  • Low-commitment – if your chosen social media platform no longer suits your needs, you can easily delete your page or switch to a new provider at any time.

Globally, the number of businesses that redirect their traffic to their respective Facebook site increase 25% year-over-year.

  • Engagement – access to more than a billion potential consumers, which allows you to easily communicate and helps build relationships.
  • Branding – customers will learn more about the business’s values, mission and purpose, which will nurture loyalty and build the company’s brand.

Cons:

  • Lack of control/ownership – the social media provider’s terms and conditions control what content and promotions can be presented. Also consider what happens if the provider shuts the site down and if this is your only online presence.
  • Constrained creativity – social sites offer limited design layouts.
  • Open forum – these sites give consumers an open forum to voice their feedback and complaints, which necessitates more monitoring of the site.
  • Limited reporting/tools - the level of reporting and features available are often less than with a website, and are limited to only what is offered by the social site.

The best advice with getting started using social media is to avoid trying to conquer them all at once. It may be best to simply start with 1 or 2 platforms that reach your target audience. Remember to try to reserve accounts or claim your branded profiles on all sites/platforms you plan to leverage to avoid confusion. And if you do engage on more than one social media site, try a management tool like Hootsuite that will save you time updating all your social media accounts.

Website

77 percent1 of small businesses said websites are the most effective online marketing tool for creating awareness and strengthening customer relationships, more than any other online marketing tool.

With a bevy of options, both paid and free, for creating a website for your business, it is easier than ever to build a professional, high-quality website to showcase your products and services, and to establish your brand in a form you can control.

Pros:

  • Cost effective - there are a variety of options available, ranging from free to expensive. Free websites, depending on your budget and business needs, may be a good starting place as some are created for the non-technical user with easy-to-use templates so you can simply point-and-click your way to a new website.
  • Credibility – consumers are looking for your website, whether you have one or not. In a recent survey of millions, 56% said that they would not trust a business without a website.
  • Full control/ownership – there are myriad options as to how to use and present your website. Even if you decide against a custom build and use a website-builder tool with templates, today’s tools offer many customization features so you can easily personalize your website.2
  • Greater branding and promotional flexibility – you can increase your ability to communicate with and sell to your customers. A website not only has more space to market your business; but more ways to market as well, such as videos, customers reviews, blogs, special promotional offers, etc.
  • Reduction in overhead costs – most consumers prefer to get a business’s information online and that could reduce your administrative and operational expenses.
  • Around the clock availability - a company can promote their business and market products and services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, anywhere in the world.

Cons:

  • Maintenance - depending on the size of the site, keeping content up-to-date will require some time and effort.
  • Increased complexity - sites with more sophisticated designs and functionality will most likely require more investment in time and money.

If you are getting started with building your website and have limited technical abilities or resources, try a popular website builder tool such as Moonfruit, Wix, Weebly or registrars who sell domain names, as they offer affordable website packages.

Download our checklist that will help guide you through building a website.

Website and Social: Working Together

Ideally, your website and social media channels should work together. Your website should be the center of your online presence, while you use social media (and other marketing channels such as email and paid search) to engage and drive customers back to your website.

Here are some quick tips on how your social media and website can complement each other:

  • Use social media to inform your customers of quick or weekly updates you have made to your website
  • Showcase or integrate your social posts (Facebook or Twitter) directly on your website
  • Add visible social media buttons linking to your social media page to the header or footer of your site, offering customers an alternative way to stay up-to-date on your business or promotions
  • For e-commerce businesses, integrate social buttons on product pages so your customers can share socially what they just bought or like on your website

Remember, it’s okay for your social media page to have some of the same content as your website. Social media can help increase your chance of reaching customers who might not visit your website on a daily basis.

1 Constant Contact. "Customer Engagement a Major Focus of Small Busineess Technology According to Constant Contact Technology Pulse Survey."

2 TechCrunch. “With Over 15M Sites Built, Weebly Launches New Planner And Mobile Editor, Brings Website Creation Service To Android.”