A question that I have been asked a lot lately is why should a business have both a website and a Facebook page and which do you invest in first? A Facebook page or a website? Like with most things, it depends! There are a number of factors that will go into your decision, like how will you market yourself on Facebook and how often, how much content you have to share on a regular basis, and the overall goals of your business. In order to establish which you should invest in first, ask yourself these six questions to help you understand the differences between Facebook pages and websites.
- What are you trying to do with your web presence?
If you’re just starting out, and want to let prospective clients know, but don’t have lots of content yet – Facebook is a great option. Facebook is optimized for small chunks of info that can easily be shared and discussed. The information being shared is brief, educational, humorous, or helpful in some way. Announcing a new blog posts or sales item can be very effective on Facebook.If you already have lots of content and you want to present it in a clean, organized manner a website is probably the best place for you to start. There are no limitations to how your present information on your website, so you can organize it however you want, in as many different sections as you want, linked together however you want. A simplified way to look at it is that your website is where all your content ultimately lives, and Facebook is a place you can promote/discuss/share what your business is up to. You can certainly create brand awareness on Facebook without a website, and you can certainly leverage Facebook sharing without having a dedicated Facebook page, but ultimately they work best together.
- Who is your audience?
There are so many millions of people on Facebook (not all of them regular users), but not everyone. And while Facebook is continually being adopted by more people, it’s still does not reach everyone whereas a website, has the ability to reach every person with an internet connection. Also, Facebook users have come to expect the ability to carry on a conversation with those involved. If your business is reluctant to share or discuss things publicly, Facebook probably isn’t right for you because a static page on Facebook won’t get you very far at all. Meanwhile, your website can implement discussion and comments, but in an environment you completely control.
- What about SEO?
Websites offer a way for search engines, and the people who use them, to find your site based on the keywords/phrases you use in the text throughout — and someone landing there for the first time might not yet know whether your site is something in which they’re interested. You can fine tune who finds you and when, based on the kind of content you put on your site, and you can analyze that data any time. And while you want to optimize your Facebook page with rich keywords and phrases, ultimately Facebook controls the way your page is discovered, and they can change it any time.
- What about Facebook’s limitations?
Limitations!? Yes, even the 4th most powerful website in the world has limitations. And the limitations for Facebook don’t exist on your website where you can break apart your content into multiple, easy-to-use pieces in the way that promotes your brand. Your website will always compete with other websites for viewers, but on Facebook you’re competing within the same space. To stand out on Facebook you have to have an active presence that offers interesting, sharable information & an on-going conversation. Facebook is not only very restrictive in the space in which you have to promote your content severely limited, Facebook controls it and can change it at any time. With your website, you can create a great user experience throughout your website that you control completely.
- What about a Website’s limitations?
Unless you’re using an existing template-based approach, custom well-designed websites take a specific set of skills & usually more than an afternoon of work. Creating a page on Facebook, by comparison, is super fast, easy, and anyone can do it. Using a Content Management System (CMS), like WordPress, will give you the ability to create and update your own website or blog, but it’s still not as easy as posting something to a Facebook page and participate in the ensuing conversation. And without promotion, even the best-designed website, optimized for search engines will float on the internet like an island unless you market it through your social media.
To summarize, I recommend – those willing and able to create an active Facebook presence, with great content that is regularly updated and easily shared, with an aim to creating a community of people to follow their business should start with Facebook, and move on to a website as soon as needed. Those with lots of content that needs a home or break up their site into branded, digestible sections with various calls-to-action should start with a Website, and move on to a Facebook page to help promote their business when they’re ready to dedicate the time to community-building.
And like with most things, there are no hard-and-fast rules. I encourage you to do some research of how businesses similar to yours have approached their website or Facebook dilemma. What seems to be working well? If a brand has a great Facebook presence, why is that? Do they also have a strong website? How do they leverage their website via social media? A little exploration will go a long way to preventing costly mistakes!
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