Jan 12, 2016
If your business has a Facebook page, do you need a website?
When I first began working with a recent client, I found that she had been relying on a Facebook page as the primary online presence for her business.
Because her business lacked a website, customer had to find her Facebook page to find any business information, including contact information.
Many businesses hear the message that they must be on Facebook. This raises the question: If you have a Facebook page, do you really need a website?
What is a Facebook page?
According to the Facebook Help Center,
pages are for businesses, brands and organizations to share their stories and connect with people.
Besides the obvious business pages that you’ll find on Facebook, page are also intended for celebrities; social, political, and other causes; and entertainment, such as a movie page.
Individuals, by the way, create profiles on Facebook rather than pages. Whether you create a profile or a page, you must set up an account on Facebook.
Why have a Facebook page?
There are definite advantages that Facebook provides over having a website.
A Facebook page costs nothing
Unlike having a website, in some cases, it costs you nothing to create and manage a Facebook page. You don’t need to hire a web designer or developer to get started. You don’t need to pay for web hosting or ongoing maintenance.
With a Facebook page, you can focus solely on generating content to support your business goals. And Facebook supports the types of content that you’d expect to find on the web: videos, images, and text.
Facebook has a built-in audience
Having a Facebook page means being part of a website with more than one billion active users. While not all those users are members of your target audience, there is a potential to open your business up to new customers.
You may need to run Facebook ads to reach those new customers, but once you reach them, there’s an opportunity to engage them on your page through likes, comments, and more.
You can generate leads on Facebook
Awareness and engagement are great, but leads are what your business needs. Facebook has ways in which you can turn a visitor to your page into a lead. For instance, Facebook allows you to add a form to your page to gather contact information from visitors.
If you’re a MailChimp user, then you can add a newsletter sign-up form to your Facebook page.
Have an upcoming event? Then create an event landing page on your Facebook page and invite others to join it.
Facebook also changed its policies to allow you to administer promotions, such as a contest or giveaway, right from your Facebook page.
In addition to these features, Facebook also offers:
- The ability to create a vanity URL for your page (facebook.com/yourbusinessname)
- Analytics to measure your page performance
- Support for setting up a Facebook store
With so many of these web features, who needs a separate website?
Why Facebook alone isn’t enough
There are business owners who want the ease and simplicity that Facebook provides. But can a Facebook page alone help you achieve your business goals?
You want more control
While it doesn’t appear that Facebook will be going away any time soon, social networks do rise and fall. Remember Friendster or Myspace?
A bigger danger than Facebook shutting down is having your audience move away to another social media site. If that happens, you have to consider whether or not migrating your content from Facebook to another site is something that you’re willing to do.
Having a Facebook page means relying on Facebook, a third-party, to provide you with features, functionality, and hosting. Customization is limited, at best.
Want a page layout that distinguishes you from your competitors? Unfortunately, Facebook provides the page template, so your layout is exactly the same as your competitor’s page layout.
Having your own website, however, gives you more creative control and flexibility over your web design and content. There are few rules to comply with when you manage your own site.
Remember that your page is not only subject to Facebook’s design restrictions, but your content is subject to their policies, which can change at any time without notice.
You may need to pay for visibility
Speaking of policy changes, recent Facebook changes have made it harder for businesses to reach a wide audience particularly through organic reach.
Today, users are more likely to see posts from friends higher in their newsfeed and posts from businesses much lower in a feed, if at all. Many companies reported declining page reach—some in the double digits—since Facebook implemented these changes.
If you want to promote new content, then the best way to reach your target market may be to boost a post, to promote a post, or to run a Facebook ad. While your Facebook presence is still free, getting in front of your audience may cost you.
With a website, you can pay for traffic, engagement, and leads, but you have many other free options open to you, including organic search and social media marketing.
You need more flexibility for your content
As simple and easy as it is to post your content, Facebook isn’t really suited for all content. Like a blog, Facebook is a great medium in which to promote timely content, such as a press release, and to encourage conversation with your audience. But it’s not ideal for posting timeless content, such as a company history.
A website, on the other hand, can handle both timeless content (perennial landing pages) as well as timely content, such as daily updates with an integrated blog.
A website also has the ability to scale better than a Facebook page. Likely, you would also find the navigation on a website more customizable. You can, for instance, build second and even third levels of navigation on your website so visitors can find additional pages.
Currently, Facebook pages allow only five tabs or apps below the cover photo, and up to three apps to the left of your timeline. To see more links to content, visitors must either click the More tab or the Apps link beside your timeline.
This isn’t an either/or situation: your business may benefit from having both a Facebook page and a website, but relying solely on a Facebook page, as my client found out, isn’t enough.
If your customers expect your business to have a website, then make sure to provide one for them. You can design and create a website that not only meets your business goals, but also establishes credibility for your business.