Social media offers everyone the chance to go online and set up shop. Why bother with a website – and paying web-designers – when you can sign up and set up with a social network in a couple of minutes?
It’s easy as pie isn’t it? Pop onto Facebook and set up a business page, compose your beautifully-thought-out first tweet on Twitter and send those brilliant images of your products up to Instagram and you’ve got your business on the web.
All this is true and who are we to tell you not to give it a go? In fact, do, but social media should just be a part of the story.
Listen to these guys
Lots of experts agree that you still need a website. Some of them are (like us) people who’d love you to buy a wonderful website from them and you should always bear in mind where the message comes from.
But let’s take a look at what they say:
Mac Slocum (cool name!) goes to one of the great sources of online wisdom, Google. There he finds words of wisdom from one of the top guys, Brett Slatkin: “The new thought here is: publish from your own site, but use all these great social networks like Twitter and Tumblr and Facebook to connect with your audience, to boost engagement, and to get as much reach as you possibly can.”
Well, there are plenty of reasons, but it can be boiled down to three simple points.
Owning v renting
You own your website and everything on it. If you write something there, it’s yours. If you want to put a full-screen picture of your left nostril on the home page, go for it. No-one is going to change the rules or sell your data on or lose your passwords – social media sites have done all of these things.
You are on someone else’s turf and they set the rules. If you use Facebook – the biggest social network on earth with more than 1 billion users – then you may have heard complaints from business pages that you follow.
The problem they have is that Facebook now has shareholders and needs to keep them happy. It’s promised its personal users they will never have to pay so advertising is the obvious way to go. This means that people who run pages – even non-profit pages, community groups and the like – are discovering that what they now post is only reaching a tiny fraction of their fans. Some have even stormed off the site.
This hasn’t yet happened to the same extent on Twitter (around 15 million UK users), but there’s no guarantee that it won’t. Twitter’s got shareholders too now…
In the small print
There are disturbing stories about what can happen when you hand over your online presence from former Amazon traders.
It’s a great deal in a way. They paid Amazon in order to use a platform that reached gazillions of customers. However, in this tale, when the sellers quit Amazon, their products remained up on display, listed as out of stock but trumping their own stores in Google searches.
In the agreement they signed when they joined was a paragraph starting, “You grant us a royalty-free, non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use, reproduce, perform, display, distribute, adapt…”
Do you read every word of the user agreement when you sign up to a new social network? Thought not.
Just keeping up in the ever-changing world of social media is hugely time-consuming already. Do you want to be on Pinterest? Are you posting your images on Flickr or Instagram these days?
Kipp Bodnar (also a cool name) of Hubspot agrees, saying: “A website is the hub of your online marketing. It serves as the one place to which you drive prospects and leads for information and business transactions.”
Of course, you can use software that manages your social media (that’s Bodnar’s business), but publishing in one place and sharing is still the gold standard. A survey (albeit a small one) in November 2012 found that small business owners were spending six hours a week on social media marketing and they were already worrying that that was too long back then.
The web is changing, as it always has. Mobile browsing is massively more important, decreasing the power of Google (it’s still massive though), and so is social, but a great website is still worth its weight in gold. And you get your own address! How great is that?
Cardiff Web Design can help you with both. Our team can provide a fantastic website with brilliant content to get you heading up the search ranking. And if you want an app for mobile customers to use and help with social media we can do that too. Pop to our contacts page and let’s get started.
by Colin Ricketts