At some point every business owner asks themselves and others if they need a website. It’s a question that has been asked since the 1990s. Back then the concern was centered around if there was an audience on this new thing called “the Internet”. Today the question is whether or not a social media page for your company will achieve the same effect as a fully developed website.
The answer: It won’t, but does it matter? Some companies don’t need a fully formed website in order to get their message out. A poorly designed site can be more of a hinderance than a boon to your business, and if you’re not willing to invest in a professional web presence for your business then having a dedicated website probably won’t portray your products in their best light.
That said, a well designed website that is properly maintained offers numerous advantages over even the best corporate social media pages. Some of them are:
1. Control: With your own website you have complete control over what you present to your audience. Facebook and Google Plus can change their layout or which of your posts are displayed at any time without your permission or consent but with your own website you can decide how and when to do things.
2. Functionality: Social media sites don’t let you do much more than post things, and even that is fairly limited. You can post links or small amounts of text, but you can’t give your customers direct access to forms or large amounts of data without sending them somewhere else. Interactive content can’t be directly accessed on social media, either.
3. Branding: Sure, you can post a profile picture and even a fancy cover photo, but does that really tell the whole story about your company and products? I hope not. With your own website you can present yourself just how you’d like to be seen, without the strict limitations enforced by third parties.
4. Analytics: This isn’t discussed often enough, but you need to know who is visiting your site and how they are using it. You can’t get that kind of information from Facebook or Google Plus. If you’re not collecting, analyzing and acting on your analytics, you’re making a mistake that your competition isn’t.
5. Search Engine Presence: How do people find your company today? If it’s not at least partially through organic search engine results you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. With your own website you can create search engine optimized content to pull in targeted audiences searching for the phrases you want to capture. The best solution is one that covers all the bases. Create a high quality website which you have full control over and show off your company exactly how you want to. Leverage social media to spread your message and build an audience. Engage your website visitors with dynamic and thought provoking content that they want to share with their friends and business associates. Do it all, and post often.
Scott Carter serves on the Regional and Norfolk Boards of Directors for the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and is CEO of United Networks, a website development company located in Norfolk, VA.