Many small business owners face some difficult questions when deciding how to present their business online. Should one have a website designed for their business or just use a Facebook page or Twitter profile to reach their customers? Is the price of setting up a website worth it when one can create a Facebook page for free?
I often explain to my clients that a website is like our very own country and social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are like your ambassadors. With a website you make the rules on how things work. Think of this as being the supreme ruler of a country. You are able to decide how it looks, how visitors interact with it and the content you wish to share with the world.
Facebook allows you to interact with your customers. This is very similar to what ambassadors do. Ambassadors interact with the people that live in a foreign country, similar to how a business interacts with people on social networks.
A major difference between a website (country) and a social networking profile (ambassador) is who owns the content. On Facebook (foreign country) become owners of the content you post (this includes pictures, status messages, likes, etc…). Also social networks often make rules (similar to laws) that protect their own ecosystems (think economy). If Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn decided to make a new rule, you are bound by it. A new rule may or may not benefit your business, but any decisions made by these social networks are done so to ensure their success, not yours.
With a website, you are the supreme ruler. You have the ability to decide what pages and content you wish for visitors to have access to (as well as the ability to remove any content that is out dated) and control how visitors interact on your website. You own the content on your website and are not dependent on anyone else for what content will be shown to what customers.
In the United States, it is estimated that roughly 70% of all internet users have a profile on Facebook. That does seem like a large audience for your business. But for me, I like to be able to reach 100% of my current and potential clients. This is why I advocate having a website for any business. Being able to reach all your current and potential clients will give you a competitive edge over your competitors that are just using social networking sites.
Some other facts to consider:
- In the US, 55% of all citizens are on Facebook.
- 74.3% of US consumers use Google search as their primary option for finding information on the web. (People often say “Just Google it” when asking another person to search for information online).
- Google averages 153,441,000 unique visitors a month compared to Facebook’s average of 137,644,000. That’s a difference of nearly 16 million unique visitors a month searching for websites over a Facebook page.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn are all great ways to interact with your customers. But the truth is having a website is the best way to reach the maximum number of your current and potential customers.