If we had a nickel for every time we've heard, "But we have a Facebook page" in response to our offers to send free website design estimates to small businesses, Forward View would have a pile of nickels. We mentioned this issue in a recent newsletter but decided to delve into the subject more deeply. It's a huge digital marketing misconception that a Facebook page and a website are equivalent. They're not! Here are the top five reasons why a website is better than a Facebook page:
A website's search engine optimization (SEO) can be customized. Facebook pages can't be tweaked to improve SEO. Example: We did an internet search for a local business with no website. The first search result is an unofficial Facebook page for the business. That Facebook page incorrectly lists the establishment as likely to be permanently closed. The actual Facebook page for the business isn't visible in the first page of search results. (Very few people go to the second page of results!)
Facebook offers extremely limited e-commerce features. Can you sell online through Facebook? Yes, but the available tools will be restrictive. With website platforms such as Squarespace and BigCommerce, you can create a fully-featured and affordable digital store over a weekend.
On Facebook, it's common to see duplicate listings for popular businesses and tourist attractions. When we were creating the Ralph Stanley Museum website, we found four unofficial Facebook pages for the museum. It has been hard to eliminate the extras! (Yes, sometimes we can get the duplicate pages deleted.)
Your website design can utilize any layout you wish. With Facebook, you insert content into the standard template. With a website, you build the template to meet your own unique needs. Big difference.
A website address will look much more professional on your business cards than a Facebook link. In the 21st century, you're expected to have a website. Don't disappoint potential customers!
In summary, we're not writing these newsletters to sell our own services. We're trying to dispel the myth that Facebook = Small Business Website. It doesn't. Don't get us wrong, we love to see small businesses use social media. Facebook and Twitter should be utilized to broadcast your message and drive visitors to your website. Notice that we don't recommend using your website to attract social media activity. In our own experience, people tell us, "I found your website through Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn and decided to contact you about..." The reverse has never happened! Focus on what drives revenue most directly: a website.