Why You Should Have a Traditional Website (not just Twitter and Facebook)

by Vanessa on September 15, 2010

Recently I was part of a round-table discussion that included prominent people in the arts community where I live. The meet-up group created a Facebook Group, but the question was raised about whether the Group was the best way to get the word out about our meetings. One of the attendees was quite vocal about businesses (and by extension, groups like ours) not needing to bother with traditional websites anymore. Most of us in the group disagreed with him, but since Facebook and Twitter are so popular these days, it can be difficult to articulate to someone who is not involved with internet commerce and marketing just why a traditional website is still so important.

Facebook (along with Twitter) is the most-used social networking site on the web right now. It is becoming increasingly popular for businesses to create a Facebook page before they do much with their website, partly because Facebook is pretty easy to use and gets so much traffic. And yet, for businesses and group like ours, it has some real limitations. It is important for an ecommerce business to have a website and a Facebook presence, because they are very different and complementary vehicles.

One drawback to Facebook is that people must become Fans of your Facebook Page in order to receive updates, so they have to know about you before they can learn what you’re up to. Facebook Pages do not currently have an Inbox, so people can’t use Facebook mail to message you directly. The information fields that are available for you to fill in are determined by the Page category that you select when you first set up the Page, and it can’t be changed once you set it up if you later realize you need more functionality or you made a mistake.

While it’s perfectly fine—and in fact it is really important that you do have a Facbook page!— just keep in mind that it is a different way of interacting with customers, and don’t rely on that to be your only interaction with the world. Many, maybe most, customers will still seek out a regular website in which to find a contact page, at a bare minimum.

The main advantages to having your own website are that with Facebook, you are beholden to Facebook and its way of doing things. With your own site you have a much greater level of control over the content and presentation. Although Facebook enjoys a lot of usage, it is possible that your target audience would be more likely to be receptive to your business/service outside of their Facebook “social time.” (Most Facebook users are on Facebook to interact with their friends; they’re not actively looking up brands to identify with.) Businesses can use Facebook to encourage fans to sign up for a newsletter (you can even add a newsletter sign up form) which would be a great way to use Facebook way to stay in contact.

The need for a traditional website isn’t dead. Facebook reaches a primarily younger audience and allows for creative and often more casual way of keeping in touch with customers that works really well for many businesses and groups. Internet users are still going to search for a traditional website before they search for a Facebook page, so do both!

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