Do I need a website? Isn’t Facebook / Instagram / Twitter enough ?
Social media platforms like Facebook are easy to join, easy to post and easy to get interaction. That’s not the primary mission of a business website. A website is your own property, your address, a universally accessible permanent landing place, your home.

Where are they now?
Do you remember Six Degrees? Blogger? Frendster? Del.icio.us? How about Eons, Diaspora, GeoCities or Orkut? All big social media platforms that died. Remember how big corporates were spending umpteen thousands on virtual space in Second Life? And even all the power of Google couldn’t save their G+ platform. MySpace was once a rival to Facebook but today has almost no presence and certainly no credible profile.

What about Facebook?
Ask anyone under 30 about Facebook and they’ll likely tell you it’s only for “old people”. Despite that Facebook remains the only social media platform that is a reasonable alternative to a website. Setting up on Facebook is easy and chances are you’ll be able to quickly push up the ‘friend’ count. On the other hand it is just a slice of the web. Many people simply will never visit Facebook pages, it’s not really yours, can be easily hit with bad PR, suspended pages, or algorithm changes that can slash your traffic. It’s an easy, but weak, alternative to having your own site. Recent scandals surrounding Facebook emphasize just how quickly sentiment to a platform can change. Facebook is also very rapidly losing share in the younger demographics. See this article to understand how fast social media share can collapse.

Should I have a site and do social media?
This depends on two things: How much resources can you commit to online promotion; and how important social interaction is to your business. If you haven’t got the time or personnel to commit to online promotion then don’t bother with social media. There’s no point setting up accounts unless they’re going to be active and relevant. If you do have the resources, and social interaction is relevant to your business, then go ahead. But don’t make the mistake of simply running two independent online properties, your site and your social media. They need to work together. Social media should point back to your website, refer to articles, posts or videos that you’ve put on your site. Your site should also incorporate a feed of your social streams so visitors who don’t use those platforms can still see what’s happening.

The three parts of a website
1) You can’t build a website unless there’s content. Pictures, text, video, blurbs about your business. Use genuine content and real pictures, not stock photography of smiling models. Know what you want your website to do. Is it just an explanation of your business and products and some contact information? Great! That’s a clear mission. Are you trying to get people to call you about work; buy a particular product; register for something; recognize your special attributes over the competition ? Know your message and state it plainly.
2) Now that you know what your site is trying to achieve it’s time to get it built. You get what you pay for – but you knew that already.
3) After your site is built, or rebuilt, there’s often a feeling that the project is done. Not quite. Did you set up your site for regular news or blogs? Make sure you follow through. It’s a very poor look to click on a blog or news section and see the last post is two years old.
4) What is your maintenance plan? Software needs regular updating. In just a few months, or even weeks, new vulnerabilities may emerge that makes your site an easy target for drive-by malicious code injection. If left unmonitored your site may start broadcasting spam or host dubious sites. That can result in search engine blacklisting. It’s vital you have a robust maintenance and backup plan. This isn’t an especially hard task so you may have someone in your organisation that can take care of it. Just make sure someone is doing this job.

Don’t forget email
It’s been shown in many studies that directly emailing someone is far more valuable to a business than hits or likes on any social media site. Email is immune from corporate scandal or social media trends. An email newsletter list is still the king of online marketing. Such a list usually takes time to grow, often over years. The benefits are worth the investment and the wait.

The simple facts

  • Social media is fickle, don’t bet your business on any third-party platform
  • A website is your own home and your permanent address
  • People expect you to have a website
  • Your site needs to load quickly
  • Roughly half your audience will access your information using a mobile device
  • Be genuine, tell the truth