Does a business really need a website? It’s a question I’ve begun to ask myself, and other consumers, more frequently as I watch the rise in social media platforms being used for business information promotion.
One of my companies is a signposting portal that promotes great visitor destinations including events and foodie locations. We have links directly back to the Members’ websites, so that they get the direct enquiries and can also track how their marketing with us is performing. But more and more businesses are not operating with a website and want us to signpost to their Facebook page.
They include hairdressers, food & drink retailers, restaurants, events, activities and others.
So, I pondered, can a Facebook page effectively replace a website in terms of the following:
- Brand credibility/customer perception
- Customer experience
- Comprehensive and easy to find information
- Online search presence
- Universal accessibility
- Competitor advantage
Hmm, with the best will in the world, doubtful.
How can you for example easily and logically find a dining menu on a Facebook page?
If the Facebook pictures are casual amateur phone shots, does that make the business seem casual and amateur?
What if the ideal customers are not on Facebook (over 30million UK people aren’t), they’ll see and know little about that business’s very existence.
Does only having a Facebook page convey longevity and commitment to the business by the owners?
The temptation may be that setting up a Facebook page is trendy, quick, instantly updated and free, and the perception is that everyone’s on it. Though it really is only telling half a story about a business, sometimes even less than that, and is it the right story?
Crucially, when a customer (or potential one) sees half of a story, they subconsciously make up the rest, a bit like this:
Oh, so they haven’t got a website – They must be very new, they haven’t committed to their business completely.
The Facebook page must be their temporary thing – Maybe they’re a temporary business.
Perhaps they couldn’t afford a website – they didn’t have a proper business plan.
I don’t use Facebook, I need to see a website – they don’t want people like me, so I won’t be a customer.
Now before you all shut down your Facebook business pages and spend small fortunes on a glossy new website, I’m not suggesting that Facebook shouldn’t be used to promote your business. But I am suggesting that a) you may be alienating customers by only using that and nothing else b) assess whether your consumers use Facebook as an information tool, if not, promote another way c) perhaps use it in conjunction with other marketing methods and certainly have a strategy and the skills to achieve what you want to from the efforts ….no social media is really free – time is money!
Do I think a business needs a website? It really does depend – like all marketing, it’s about who your target audience is and using the right marketing methods to reach them.
If you would like help on what might be the right marketing methods for your business, ask us about our Marketing Review sessions, where we help you to understand and move forward with the marketing methods to suit your business…not everyone else’s.