Should We Drop Our Web Site And Just 'Do Facebook?'
I have been hearing this question often in my travels, especially from managers who are frustrated by their company’s unwillingness to invest in digital initiatives. The question is, “If we can’t produce a good Web site with good content and profitable advertising opportunities for local clients, should we just forward our dot com to our Facebook page? We seem to have more momentum there!”
Facebook is an attractive social environment, and you can quickly immerse yourself in conversations and interaction with your audience. It’s easy and intuitive to manage. Your options are limited, so you don’t have to get into anything complex. Analytics are built in too, so you can get traffic reports on your Facebook page easily, and you’ll know the exact demographics of the people who are visiting.
There are lots of advantages to using Facebook, but it’s a marketing tool. Don’t excite yourself into believing that you own anything or have rights to monetize anything that happens on Facebook. That’s all Facebook’s real estate.
YES, you should have a Facebook page. But, not in lieu of your own Web site.
If you do only have a Facebook page:
- You are assuming that everyone who is a partisan of your brand is also on Facebook. While there is no question that many of them are on Facebook, you’ll automatically dismiss a portion of your audience. Depending on your format or product, you could be missing a big portion.
- You won’t automatically get an audience. You still need content.
- The look and feel of your page are just like anyone else’s. This is a major missed opportunity for branding.
- You will lose a huge amount of search engine related traffic. Facebook and Google do not play well. You will not easily show up in search engines. Your Facebook page may come up in Google when people search for your exact brand name, but don’t expect them to find you if they type in “Country Music in Sheboygan” or some other keyword-related search. Search engines are important to your success in building an audience online. For most Web sites, 60-80% of their audience comes from search engines.
- You are dependent on Facebook to develop new features. If you want to add a shopping cart, e-mail newsletter, or other everyday features, you can’t do them in Facebook without further development.
- Facebook reserves the right to change their policies anytime, and you can’t do anything about it. They change profile pages all the time, so the person directing the visual of your brand is someone you don’t know in Silicon Valley.
- And the BIG ONE: you can’t produce any local sponsorships. You are extremely limited in your rights to monetize anything on Facebook. They own that real estate, and they’ll shut down your profile, fan page, or group page if you take liberties that pose any threat to their advertising revenue.
They also own Facebook ads on every one of their pages, so they’ll be placing sponsors on your page for you. You won’t get a cent of that revenue, though. In fact, if you were my competitor, I’d buy Facebook ads targeted directly to your audience on your very own Facebook page, because there’s nothing you could do to stop me!
The real question behind the question of whether to built a site vs. use Facebook is, “How can I circumvent my owner’s short-sighted vision on investing in digital, and just do something?”
Why not deal first with your owner’s illusions about the future? That’s the real problem. Help your company see how the world is changing.
If it were me, I would put together a digital business plan, complete with the investment required to build something compelling and the potential upside. I’d paint a picture of what the future could look like for the company if we embrace digital, and explain what could happen if we don’t invest in the space. I’d probably even offer to manage the whole thing in exchange for a mere 50% of the digital revenue. After all, if your owner/manager is correct that “digital money doesn’t exist,” which is essentially what they’re saying in their unwillingness to invest, they shouldn’t have a problem giving you half of whatever you can stir up in your market.
What do you think? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Writer
Future-minded and passionate, Daniel Anstandig’s experience includes developing digital business strategies for media companies, designing content strategies for broadcast and interactive, and coaching executives. He is President of McVay New Media, and editor of Radio-Info.com's new media newsletter, "Connected."