2014 is a year where there is no doubt that social media has taken precedence in our lives. Not just on a personal level but on how we interact with businesses and corporations. Big companies have already accepted this as a reality and they actively share and participate in social media. Smaller companies follow suit, except that they fail to realise that the big players always have a home base – a website.
Here is the situation: You’re running a nice small business. Why should you bother having a website? You can do everything you need to do online via social media. For example, you can make quick updates on Twitter, announce deals on Facebook and post pictures on Instagram.
However, the truth is, when you're operating solely on these social platforms, you do not have as much control as you think. Here are some reasons why.
These sites revise and change their terms & conditions all the time. When was the last time you read the entire T&C of any service provider in full? Chances are you did not read your phone’s latest OS update. It is a very real possibility that what you have been doing for years on the social site suddenly becomes unacceptable by their new rulings and you can easily get on their bad side – resulting in a ban or some other disruption of service.
Fallen sites include the likes of AOL, myspace and friendster. Thinking that the giants of today will never face similar fates isn't a wise. We need to learn from history and know that if our content is on a platform that we don’t own, there will never be any guarantees.
You’ve built your content & marketing a certain way, perhaps in a certain layout and composition. All of a sudden, Facebook rearranges their design, causing your layout and previous content to be redundant. This happened in YouTube as well. You will then either have to go back and modify all your content and posts or live with the fact that your previous work are no longer optimised for the new design.
Sites like Facebook change their algorithm often. This is the selection process of whose posts get displayed where and when. Your ranking and visibility that you’ve been depending on could very well be shifted down, leaving you and your content in the dark.
______________________________ • ______________________________
To summarise, if you operate solely on social media, you’re basically playing and operating in someone else’s backyard. They can chase you away if you’re not playing by the rules, or if you want to own a bigger share.
With a website, you literally control your own domain. You have full ownership of your content, your identity and brand, design and layout, methods and strategy, and more importantly; any relationships made through your website as a channel.
Besides ownership, here are some reasons why you need a website for your business or organisation.
Being active everywhere is great but you will need a base of operations. Just like how people still think having an office address is a sign of an established business, not having a website despite being heavily spread out on social media may suggest that your business could be operating at a hobbyist level.
Having a well designed and updated website will let people know that you run a business that is doing well, and has the capacity to take on new clients and do wonderful things for them.
A website isn’t just a website anymore these days. When you run a website, you would want to analyse your visitor habits, eventually providing a channel for them to convert from visitors to leads. Depending on your business strategy, you can push these leads to either be raving fans of your product or service, or you can follow up with them directly and convert them into paying customers.
If you do your website right, and put in place an excellent content marketing program, you will have a very good chance of rising to the top of google’s search. Your competitors may pay big bucks for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) but if you’re doing it the honest and correct way, it is a sure way of rising and getting noticed. And the traffic alone will be enough to keep you busy.
You would be stuck to the functionality of each social platform. But since you own your website – you may add on to it any way you see fit. If one day you decide to sell a digital product off your website, you can. If one day, you decide to have a members only section for exclusive content, you can. The possibilities are limitless. And no one is going to say that you’re not allowed to do this or that.
With all of the above mentioned I am not saying that social media is bad and that you should bank all efforts into running your website. By all means, participate in social media – but more towards distributing your content and raising awareness.
In today’s context, being active in social media is like being active in the real world. There is no distinction. In fact, people are known to be more participative and active in social media compared to real life.
Don’t use social media as the main and only platform for your content. Think micro content – to drive the audience to your shop, i.e. your website, where you control everything.
• 14 SEPTEMBER 2014 •