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Episode 2: Do I Need A Website or Can I Use Facebook / Instagram

Do I need a website? This is a very common question. The influx of cloud-hosted content management solutions, like Squarespace and Wix, into the market, indicates business owners prefer to use drag and drop website tools. Even still, there are some who don’t want to go that far with their company’s web presence. Instead, they decide to use Facebook as their “company website”. This is a big mistake and can seriously affect a business’s ability to turn a profit. As a developer let me explain why.

Limited Space

Facebook limits where company details can be placed. A normal website would include several pages dedicated to providing specifics about an organization’s products and services. By only offering a Facebook page, customers are required to piece together a company’s story.

Most customers aren’t going to put that much effort into researching a business. In addition to the limited space offered, the page is also very cluttered. It may be difficult for customers to wade through all the content on your page to find important information.

Secondary Branding

Facebook branding will always come first. Your company’s branding, colors, and logo will be secondary to Facebook. Because of this, a company that uses Facebook as its website is technically promoting Facebook. Companies do not have the option to change the color of their pages. Pages must keep Facebook blue and white branding.

Link colors and fonts are also standard and cannot be customized. If building a brand for your company is important, using Facebook as your website is not a good option.

Closed Network

Facebook is a closed network. This means the only people who can engage with a Facebook page, are Facebook members. If one of your customers isn’t on Facebook, they will not be able to engage with your company. Consumers don’t trust companies they cannot contact. Only being able to engage with Facebook members limits your ability to market your company, which in turn places a ceiling on your profit levels.

No Ownership of the Platform

You don’t own Facebook. If you did, you’d be a billionaire and your last name would be Zuckerberg. Because you have no ownership of the platform, you have no ownership of changes to layout, rules, design, or maintenance schedule. This means, decisions made could adversely affect your organization, and there is nothing you can do about it.

This was most evident a few years ago when Facebook changed how it delivered content to member feeds. Many companies saw impressions and views of their posts plummet. The new content delivery algorithm placed a higher value on content that had higher engagement.

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So, if customers didn’t frequently engage with your content (i.e. like, share, comment, click, etc.), it stopped showing on their feeds and they never saw what you were posting.

Get Lost in the Sauce

As of 2015, Forbes reported that 50 million business pages had been created on Facebook. This number has undoubtedly increased significantly over the past two years. With the competition for customer attention being so stiff, it is easy for your content to get lost in the sauce.

Between updates from family and friends, other business postings, advertisements and group updates, it is extremely difficult to grab the attention of customers. Because of this, customers can easily forget about you, which again affects your bottom line.

Don’t Break the Rules

Facebook’s rules and terms of use change on a regular basis. It is imperative that you stay abreast of all changes and are intimately familiar with these rules. Facebook reserves the right to remove any page or post that violates its community standards. While it is true that you can request an appeal, it could take several days or weeks to get your page or post reinstated. Could you stay in business if you didn’t have a web presence for several weeks? Here’s a hint, the answer is no.

No Search

Search is a very important part of any website. It allows a website visitor to find information about the company from published website content. However, Facebook does not have a search function that allows visitors to only search your page or your content. Facebook’s search feature searches all of Facebook.

In addition, it is difficult to get your company page to show up in Google search results unless you are linked from a previously indexed website. If you have no links pointing to your Facebook page from your website, the likelihood Google will find you is slim.

Other Reasons You Need A Website

There are so many other reasons not to use Facebook as your company’s website, but I just don’t have time to go through each of them in detail.

  • If you don’t use a domain, you can’t have a branded email address. Consumers don’t trust companies that use Gmail or Yahoo as their official email address.
  • You’ll still need a content management system or to know a coding language, in order to sell products on Facebook.
  • If Facebook is ever hacked and taken offline, your “website” goes down like Joe Frazier.

But, If You Need A Website

But let’s say, you don’t really care about any of this. Let’s say, you are determined to use Facebook as your company’s website. At least follow these very important best practices for using Facebook as your company’s website.

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Brand the Page

Use your company’s logo as the profile photo. This will help with branding and brand recognition. Be sure the logo is large enough and clear enough to be identified. The truth is you do need a website to brand your business.

Use the Hero Area

The hero area is the large image located at the top of a Facebook page. Change out this image as often as possible in order to promote products, services, and events. Be sure the images used are clear, concise, include details on the subject matter.

Add a Call to Action

Facebook allows you to add a call to action button under the hero image. Select a call to action that best suits your company (i.e. shop now, book services, get in touch, learn more, make a purchase, make a donation, or download the app).

Complete the About Area

Complete every option available in the about area. Provide as much information as possible about your company, products, and services. Since this is the only place customers can go to get information about you, you want to ensure they leave the page knowing everything they need to know to make an informed purchasing decision.

Organize Photos

Because there is no search option within Facebook for pages, it is important that the content you post is as organized as possible. Always organize videos and images, in a way that makes sense and makes it easy for customers to find things.

Engage, Engage, Engage

It is imperative that you engage with your customers. This means posting on a regular basis throughout the day and week. Post information that is interesting to a wide audience, this will encourage customers to share your content with their friends and family. Also, be sure to respond to customer messages within an hour of receiving those messages. Never make a customer wait for a response.

Include Images and Videos

To make your content stand out, always include images or videos with your updates to encourage content sharing and engagement.

Creating a website for your business is the best option available to you. Facebook and other social media platforms can be used for the promotion of your company. However, you should always be driving traffic back to your base — your website. Good luck and if you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments below.