Has the era of professional websites ended? With the overwhelming popularity of social media platforms today, SMEs and freelancers alike have been forced to advertise on these platforms to contact their audiences directly. Now with new installations like Call-To-Action buttons and AutoPlay videos, there is a minute disparity between the services offered by social media platforms and those offered by a professional website. The question is, have social media platforms edged out the need for a professional website altogether? Primarily focusing on Facebook’s fan pages, which closest resembles the layout and functionality of a website, let’s discuss the pros and cons of either investment.
A handful of likes and a few clicks will get your Facebook fan page up and running. To build a website, a good one, requires that you invest a lot of time and money. There will be a lot of back and forth with the designer and a lot of patience needed before your website is ready. Not to mention attaining that ever coveted customized URL is a battle in and of itself. Purchasing your own domain (if it’s available) and keeping it, will result in annual fees. For a Facebook fan page, it is free and attaining a customized URL is surprisingly easy. Not to mention a fan page already comes with a professional standard layout. If you’d like to enlist the help of a professional company to upgrade the look of your fan page there are companies like Hyper Art Web Design, at your disposal. Their services will cost you roughly a fourth of the cost of a professional website and it can be done in a quarter of the time. Need we say more?
Up Hill Climb
If you’ve gone the route of making a personal business website, you’ll need to market it once you have it up. After all, what’s a website without an audience? Building momentum for your site will require making all of your content shareable through social media. Making it shareable will require attaching Facebook’s “Like” button or Twitter’s “Tweet” button to everything. You’ll also need to peddle that content back and forth on social media platforms to build momentum. This marketing strategy will be a slow process of engaging clientele by posting in popular groups and pages on all platforms, as you lead audiences back to your site. Ultimately, having native pages on these platforms, where your content can be stored and shared, will cut down on a lot of this time and effort.
Reportedly, 400 million users frequent Facebook on a regular basis. That is equivalent to a large country; the third largest in the world, to be exact. All those Facebook users have liked and posted a multitude of different content and thus can be easily categorized by their recorded interests. This information allows businesses to filter their audiences, catering content towards certain groups. Facebook also offers a Reveal Tab, which essentially sets up a click-gate for your page. If you have an ebook or a whitepaper to promote, this tab will require that audiences like your page before they can access the content. The tab is a great way to collect likes and build awareness about the content that you’re offering. None of these functionalities translate to a professional website. You can’t choose who visits your site or how they choose to interact with it. If you get flooded with spam, it will be difficult to pinpoint the source and block it. Not to mention, building a relationship with your audience will prove more difficult without the detailed information that is available on their Facebook profiles.
Now that we’ve puffed up Facebook fan pages sufficiently, we should note, it does lack some great resources. Those resources being inbound links and Google Keywords. Generating good SEO is a must for businesses. Good SEO means your site content appears prominently in search engines, which, in turn, helps build your following. We all know how lucrative it is to appear on that first page of a Google Search, after all. There is an undeniable level of professionalism that is associated with having a sleek, presentable website, as well. For instance, if a writer for popular online publication is interested in mentioning your company, they’d most likely prefer to link back to a website rather than a Facebook page. Something about a website still conveys a sense of trustworthiness and professionalism in your services offered.
Finally, we must ask ourselves, is it smart to put all our business chips into the Facebook basket? In the early days of Facebook, it was an ad-free platform. Today businesses fill the platform with plenty of ads, business pages, and fan pages, etc. Facebook has admitted that the ultimate goal is for Fan pages to have zero organic reach. This means any business looking for visibility on people’s newsfeeds will have to pay for it. This goal, while not immediate, is something to keep an eye on looking forward.
For companies who can’t afford a website platform and social media pages, it is a toss-up on which one will serve your company better. The question ultimately comes down to, do you need a platform that has built-in word-of-mouth to generate momentum? Or, do you need to raise your company’s professional street cred?