Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik-Tok and more! So many platforms fighting for our attention exist nowadays, and it seems like many people spend hours of their days on these sites. With some many potential customers on social media today, is it even worth it to build a website? This article will help you identify when social media is not good enough for your business needs, but before we can properly dive into that, we got to know why we even need to be found online in the first place.
Why do I need an online presence?
The short answer, is, you might not..... but probably do.
The long answer is, you might need an online presence if you want:
new customers to find you online
to sell items or services online
a place to direct clients to information
a part two to the business cards you hand out
to build brand image and recognition
If none of those apply to you, I can confidently say that you do not need an online presence. Otherwise, if even one of these things could apply, then your business probably needed to be online yesterday. But does that mean you need a website?
The alternative to a website
Most of us have at least one social media app on our phones, so seeing an advertisement for a local business in your area is unavoidable. If you own a business, then it shouldn't have taken you long to figure out that you could do the same thing, and why not? After all, its free and the big businesses are certainly doing it, so you might as well not miss out on some sales opportunities.
The question is how 'all in' can you go with social media? There are some questions you need to answer before relying on social media to bring you new customers.
Can you afford to pre-pay hundreds of dollars a week for online traffic potential?
This can be a tough one, but even if you had a website, its still a question you must consider if you plan on using Google AdWords. Each keyword and industry will have different rates, but you are essentially paying for each view, whether or not it turns into a lead. Once you find the right amount of money your business needs to spend every month to get enough leads, there is no promise that it will not take more in the future. Your business will not only need to adapt to the decrease in customers but will likely also need to respond by increasing the amount of funds needed for social media advertising.
What kind of traffic am I going to get?
What is your target audience? Are they using the social media platform you are advertising on? If so, is the time when they are browsing social media the time you want them to see your ad? Even with configuration on who your target audience is on each ad, this could be tricky to get exactly how you want. In short, does social media provide a platform befitting of your brand's image?
What is my workload for each lead and can I handle it quick enough?
For every one lead telling you to take their money, how many will be asking questions first? How many will be simply making a comment that will not turn into a sale? What is going to be required from you to convert those leads and represent your company properly, and how much time will it take? There are good reasons why people hire social media managers, so how far can you get by yourself before you too need one?
Does this social media platform make it easy to provide info and sell my product or service?
Social media is evolving; 180-character limitations might not affect how we advertise as much anymore, but that doesn't mean its going to be all smooth-sailing when trying to get large amounts of information in front of your customers. Unless you just like hearing yourself say the same things over and over, try to avoid becoming reliant on a platform that drops new customers into your lap that don't know a thing about what you offer and have to ask the same general questions each time.
Can my livelihood rely on social media?
There is an elephant in the room that needs addressing; Social media can 'throttle' or outright restrict or ban you from posting content, to include posts you pay for. The logical initial response to this issue would be to simply avoid posting anything that can make this happen, but many factors make this easier said than done. Here are some reasons why posts get 'flagged' and accounts lose their ability to pay for ads:
Human moderators made a mistake. It happens.
Someone posting for you has their personal posts flagged.
Several posts having fact-check 'corrections'.
AI Image reader errantly detects nudity or graphic content.
Something you posted years ago does not age well.
Excessive amounts of malicious reporting (similar to review-bombs).
String of words errantly tied to hate speech, encouraging violence or discrimination can be flagged by robots.
If social media marketing goes well for your business, can you afford risking future business because of any of these things? Sometimes even intentional flags are more strict than what you might think.
Lastly, nobody can guarantee you that whatever social media platform you choose will be around for as long as your business will be. A critical reliance on any outside organization should be concerning, but especially one in the a tech industry known for disruption.
A website versus only social media
If you have answered those questions and determined that it might not be wise to exclusively rely on social media, then you probably need a website to solve your need for an online presence. However, that does not mean there is no place for social media in your business. It just means that any social media is an 'accessory' to your main presence; your website. But before jumping in, knowing the the advantages and disadvantages of both is important.
You own and regulate your content.
The design and appearance can be exactly how you want it.
Your data (and workload) is centralized to one location.
Maintenance costs are cheaper than social media sponsoring.
Brand and image looks more professional.
Sales funnels can be setup exactly how you want.
Site visitors are more likely to turn into leads.
Requires website design knowledge.
Costs more to setup and to configure SEO.
Online solicits happen more often.
Easy to setup with no special skills needed.
Your audience is already on the platform.
Spending money to 'invest' in your presence is easier.
Several social media websites need to be used to maximize exposure.
Your audience is not expecting to see your ad.
Efficacy of posts are dependent on many more factors, like competition.
Social media advertising can look cheap without a website.
In closing, it is important not to overestimate the power of a platform that is designed to get your money. What works for you for free or very low cost at first is likely to change as your business uses social media more. Take your time to understand your target audience and focus your efforts on platforms you know they are on. It is wise to see social media platforms as just a part of your online presence, no matter how it currently works (or doesn't work) for your business.