Website? Facebook Page? Google+ Page? LinkedIn profile? Today you have many choices about how to get a presence online. It comes down to what is most effective for YOUR business’ goals. Take a look at the pros and cons of website versus social media, delivered with insights from the tech experts at Verisign.
Social media profiles and pages are quick to set up. In less than an hour, you will be up and running with yours. You’ll be able to tell customers how to reach you easily if you redirect your domain name to your social media page (also referred to as domain forwarding). You’ll have a business-branded Web address – much better than just saying “follow me on Facebook.” (Although you can say that too!)
With over a billion people using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social platforms, your business can instantly take advantage of the built-in base of potential customers. People are already going to those sites. You can capitalize on their popularity.
Social Media Pros:
- Quick and free – Social pages are simple to set up and they are mostly free.
- Low-commitment – If your social profile is no longer doing the job, you can easily delete your page or switch to another platform. Or just don’t pay as much attention to it.
- Globally – The number of businesses that redirect their traffic to their respective Facebook site increases 25% year-over-year.
- Engagement – Social media encourages back and forth interaction, and tends to be casual and humanizing. This allows you to easily communicate and build relationships.
- Branding – Customers will learn more about the business’s values, mission and purpose, through your updates and how you respond to them. This builds loyalty and your brand.
Social Media Cons:
- Limited design – With social media, you have to follow their layout. You can customize your header and profile pic, but the basic layout you won’t be able to change.
- Open forum – Consumers can ask questions and voice their feedback and complaints. That means you have to monitor the site. In other words, the public can put comments on your social page or their profile referring to your profile. You’re not in complete control.
- Limited reporting tools – The level of reporting and features available are often less than with a website. You only get the information the social site chooses to give you.
- Lack of ownership – The social media provider’s terms and conditions control what content and promotions can be presented. For example, if you want to run a contest, you must follow their rules. Also consider what happens if the provider shuts the site down and if this is your only online presence.
Ideally, your business should have a website IN ADDITION TO your social media presence. But some small businesses choose to dip their toe in the water by starting with a social media page. Then later, when they are ready to build a website, they link back and forth from their social media pages.
If you want full control over your brand, then creating a company website is a better option. It’s yours – you own it. You decide what it looks like, and what goes on it. And of course, there’s no substitute for a website when it comes to credibility.
Remember, a website can be as simple as a one-page flyer for your business, or as sophisticated as a multimedia marketing and sales hub.
- 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. You can always add to or improve upon your free site later.
- Credibility – Consumers expect companies to have websites today. They trust a business more if it has a website.
- Full control – When you own your own website, you have many more choices about how it looks and the features it has. That’s true even if you use a low-cost or free website builder tool and start with a templates. You can typically personalize a template to make it look uniquely yours.
- Better marketing – With your own website, you have more leeway to communicate with and sell to your customers. A website not only has more space to market your business; but you can include more marketing features such as videos, customers reviews, blogs and special promotional offers.
- Reduced overhead – Most consumers prefer to get a business’s information online. If you make your website a useful source of self-service information, it can reduce your operating costs.
- 24-hour availability – You can partly “open for business” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, anywhere in the world — even if you’re actually closed.
- Maintenance – Depending on the size of the site, keeping content up-to-date will require some time and effort.
- Increased complexity – The more sophisticated the design and functionality, the more money and time it will take to design and set up.
- More marketing effort – You have to work to get traffic to your website. That means you have to have a marketing strategy and implement it.
View the 12 point checklist for creating a website for next steps on building a website.