Why A Website Is More Important Than Facebook & Twitter

Filed in MY BEST POSTS, Social Media, Web Site Content by Matt McGee on November 18, 2012 33 Comments

I don’t know John Burke, and he’s probably a kind and smart guy, but I don’t think his article does business owners any favors:

6 Reasons Facebook and Twitter Are More Important Than a Website

It’s actually the headline I disagree with most, because the rest of the article primarily makes the point that websites alone aren’t enough — a point I can support.

Still, the headline just begs for debate, so I’ll take the bait and argue the opposite viewpoint…

Why Websites Are More Important Than Social Media

1.) You Own Your Website. You Don’t Own Facebook.

Facebook has more than a billion users. Everybody’s using it. It’s more important than a website. Facebook is going to last forever!

That’s what everyone thought about AOL in the 1990s. And about MySpace in the 2000s. And what happened to them?

plane-crash

What happens if a business owner invests all her time and energy in Facebook, or some other social network, and then it crashes? That’s why a website is more important. No one can take it away. You own it. It will always be there, growing in value like a great real estate investment. If anyone says some social network should be your primary business asset, ignore that advice.

2.) Finding Your Audience Can Be Difficult.

For social media to work, you have to find your customers and be where they are. That’s easier said than done.

Many small businesses assume that their customers are on Facebook and they setup a Facebook presence because it’s “the thing to do.” But Facebook isn’t the right fit for every business; for some, it might be LinkedIn or Pinterest or maybe even old-school social sites like forums.

With a great website that’s marketed well, your audience can find you and find the information/products they want to learn about or buy.

3.) A Great Website Works Around The Clock.

There’s this thing in social media about trying to find the best time to post/share and interact with fans and followers. I tend to think it’s a bunch of hogwash, but it speaks to one of the big challenges of social business: getting heard through the noise.

But if you have a great website, it’s working for you around the clock. Someone looking for your products/services at 2:00 AM? Yep, there’s your website.

4.) Social Media Isn’t Always Good For Selling.

Many business owners don’t realize that social media requires a different mindset. Sales pitches don’t often work. Consider that link I mentioned above about a “boring B2B” company that failed with Facebook ads primarily because people on Facebook aren’t there to buy moving/packing products.

Social media is great for listening and providing customer service. Sometimes it can be great for selling and lead gen, too, but that’s an approach that some businesses have struggled to adopt. That might include the 30 percent in a recent survey that said Facebook isn’t valuable to them.

Final Thought

Let me make this clear:

I believe a social media presence is a must. It’s important and can be an effective channel for businesses of any size.

I’m not saying social media is useless; the many social media articles I’ve already written should make that obvious.

What I’m saying is that social media is not more important than a website. I think a website is more important for all the reasons above — primarily because it’s your real estate that you own forever and no one can take away.

Ultimately, they’re both important. It’s not an “or” question … it’s an “and” answer. You need a great website and and an intelligent social media presence for long-lasting online success.

(Stock images via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)

Comments (33)

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  1. Keith Trivitt says:

    Great points, Matt. The whole concept that brands’ social presence alone can replace a well-planned website that the brand wholly owns has struck me as a little silly. It goes against all common precepts of good marketing. Certainly,having a strong social presence is a must. But it can’t and shouldn’t replace a Brandt’s robust web presence.

    Keith Trivitt
    Director, Marketing and Communications
    MediaWhiz

    • Matt McGee says:

      Keith / John / Felix – thanks for the comments. Much appreciated. Pretty happy to get your comments and a pretty good amount of social sharing of this article even on a Sunday night!

  2. John says:

    I agree Matt. I focus on building my website a lot more than I do Facebook and I have seen great results. Facebook is good but you can’t control who’s going to see your posts. I think they’ve made it even more difficult for fans to see your posts unless you promote them. I’ll take an email list and website visitors over Facebook fans anyday.

    John

  3. Felix says:

    So right…just build a solid site first….that’s the most important thing. Traffic can come from various places….

  4. Rick Noel says:

    Excellent article Matt. I couldn’t agree more on all points. Social Media, while necessary, is certainly not a substitute for a website, which should be the centerpiece of any Internet marketing strategy. RE point #1, even if the Social Network doesn’t crash, it is possible that you account can get suspended, hacked or otherwise lost, a risk not applicable to an owned website. RE point #2, for many, Google+, especially since it Google+ strongly influences Google search for many, both personalized and global search results. RE point #4, the data overwhelming supports your point. A new Forrester report titled “The Purchase Path of Online Buyers In 2012” shows that fewer than 1% of transactions could be traced back to social links. Search is an entirely different mindset with orders of magnitude higher conversion rates. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Tom says:

    Exactly, your own website is much more important than a presence on a social media site no matter how many likes or followers. Alas, I learned this the hard way with a music site called mp3.com. Back in the late 90s early 2000s I and thousands of others built up a presence on this site and was making money via their pay for play scheme. Many independent musicians promoted their mp3.com URL in the hope of driving traffic to their music page. This worked great until Vivendi purchased mp3.com and the indies were evicted :) All those deep links to indie artist pages now redirected to the homepage. I’m not saying this will happen with facebook, pinterest or twitter but it is possible.

  6. Heather says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for addressing this so eloquently. I teach my students and advise my clients that your website is the only thing you can control in the virtual world. You can manipulate social media sites to your little heart’s content, but at the end of the day, you are not the one in the driver’s seat. That’s why building that social circle and linking everything back to your site is so important. Thank you again!!

  7. Liam says:

    I agree with all the points that you’ve made Matt. Social media is an excellent tool to enhance your business’ online presence, but the website acts as the hub for your activity.

  8. Walter Weeks says:

    Some businesses might be focusing far too much time and energy on perfecting their social media sites such as facebook and in turn neglecting their website. It is important to remember all aspects of your online presence and try to split the time equally. For most people the website is still the first port of call when investigating a company.

  9. Mike says:

    Great post Matt, thanks! One question though, do you think small businesses tend to flock to social media because it’s easier for them to update?

    I’d imagine most small business owners have a site that is outdated and/or extremely costly and complex to update so they don’t really see the benefit of using it.

    • Matt McGee says:

      Thx for the nice words, Mike. I don’t know if they flock to social media because it’s easier, so much as because they keep seeing/reading/hearing that it’s where they have to be active. “I read that I need to have a Facebook page” is very common.

  10. Royce says:

    They all need to work together. They are all vital to effective marketing. Each plays an important role. Have fun arguing.

  11. Liam says:

    I completely agree with all of your points Matt. Social media is a really useful tool for most business, but a website must act as a hub for any on-line activity.

  12. Thanks Matt for sharing this insight, i couldn’t agree more. Although one thing i have found to be useful with social media is it is becoming a form of social sales/ social business development because as people interact and engage around valuable and insightful content this can help generate leads and potential new business. Cheers

  13. Kent says:

    A website acts as a general, while social media are troops. You need a general to capture all the customer database for future use. Any social media can disappear, but you in charge of your website.

  14. Shiful Alam says:

    I agree with you. Website should be the first priority to everybody looking for the exposure of his or her business online. Here he has the full-fledged control over everything he does. Yes, through social media, we can contact potential and current customers. These platforms can help us retain current customers as well.

    Thanks for the nice pointer.

  15. I like Kent’s comment above. I also like to think of Facebook & Google+ fans as potential publicity reps as they forward your posts to their friends and connections. And of course activity on FAcebook and G+ feed into SEO, incl local SEO.

  16. trevor says:

    Facebook and twitter are pretty useless for the most part. Unless you already have a big brand following.

  17. Bill says:

    No question, a website is more valuable than social media properties, for many of the reasons posted, especially because you actually OWN it. Don’t depend on ANY social networking site to be around forever! Yes, you should definitely maximize your exposure using any/all of the big social sites out there, but only to complement your main website.

  18. Harry says:

    Completely agree. Facebook and Twitter are like nightclubs where you can go and hang out with friends and may be make new friends, but at the end of the day you still have to play by their rules and your freedom is limited. A website is like a home of your own that you are free to customize any way you want.

  19. Andrew says:

    I absolutely agree – you can control your website and it’s content but I think there is another major factor especially for B2B companies. For example, few people got to Facebook and swap posts about an accountant, an elevator designer or a dental products supplier. B2B can and should use LinkedIn but their own site is the #1 priority.

  20. Great points. I have small biz clients who have baulked at Facebook and Twitter – sometimes due to budget constraints to have someone within their organisation manage. Sometimes they don’t fit the landscape for either of these social media outlets. Like you say, I think each client needs to look carefully at what’s out there and what fits.

  21. Scott says:

    A website is also more valuable because you can use it for SEO and local search purposes. Consumers are not using social media to research products or services, yet. Having a well built website, optimized for your keywords could bring your business significant amounts of web traffic. Websites are more useful for the time being, but if consumers start using social media to research products and services, I could definitely see the tables turning.

  22. Paul Viau says:

    Matt – I think they both go hand in hand. The new trend is to send your customers first to your facebook or linkedin page and once they have read the info and warmed up to your brand – then they will hop to your website. Facebook acts as an icebreaker – so to speak.

  23. Mike says:

    Great article

    Facebook and Twitter are leasing us free space on the busies social media intersection. Our goal is to capture as many of those people and take them home. Now that Facebook is starting to charge a little rent for business to reach fans, it’s even more important to focus on your website and how to get people to it.

    Thanks for sharing

  24. Joe Cummings says:

    A year later and the argument for having a website seems to be getting weaker. But I think it comes down to what it is your promoting. If there is tons of info to impart, a website is better than Facebook, obviously. For a personality, FB works better.

  25. James says:

    I have had this discussion a few times even now where people have become obsessed with developing social media presences at the expense of designing and developing their own website first.

    I think one of the key problems is still fundamentally that people have blurred the lines on what makes social media work. Facebook did not obtain over 1bn users by it being renowned for pushing products at you all the time.

    I think the key is to appreciate that a social presence is important but it is that, to have a social presence that complements and assists your other on-line elements i.e. your website

  26. Joey Ambrose says:

    I see hear the social media “gurus” go so far as to say you don’t need a website, and I just have to smile. Great points here, Matt. Social isn’t going away, that’s for sure. There are some strong benefits, but it’s all in support of the websites, not to replace them.

  27. Tristan Walker says:

    I see Social Media as a vehicle in getting your site more visible. The site is the hub/core, where content is centralised. Social Media is good for spreading your content, where people can engage and share. When this happens, then SEO organically steps in and starts ranking your site content. It’s like one big chain reaction. Sites and Social Media work more as a symbiotic relationship. It’s all down to quality of content. At the end of the day, sites are so important (as long as it’s optimized) :-)

  28. Mike Best says:

    Thanks for the article however I can’t help but to question some of your points.

    1-You own your site. Yes, this can be true….if you have the budget. Most small businesses can’t afford to run and host their own sites, or afford to have someone create one for them so rely on WordPress, blogger, etc. So then no, they don’t own their own site. What we should be saying is that you own your own content, it’s the vehicle you use to share that content that differs.

    2-If they invest all their time on Facebook and it crashes. The same argument can me made for websites. Are they not susceptible to crashing?

    3-Great websites work around the clock. To the best of my knowledge social sites don’t shut down. If someone is seeking out your brand at 2am, they will go where they want to to gather the information they seek, whether that be your website or Facebook, G+, etc.

    I think we can all agree that having multiple channels to promote your business is the best way to go. And yes, some avenues work better for different industries than others. To say that one is better than the other is so subjective that it’s a non-issue in my humble opinion. Most smart business people will go to where their audience is, and to fool yourself in thinking that you can force consumers into another direction, could be a fatal flaw.

    We work in a small community with small businesses. Our clients are going head to head with national advertising budgets and big box stores. Where we succeed every time, and we know this through our metrics, is with social media. So for our clients, Facebook and Twitter are more important.

    • Matt McGee says:

      Hey Mike,

      1) Small business don’t need to host their own sites. You can get excellent hosting from a company like Tiger Tech (where I host all my sites) for $10/month or less. WordPress is free. There are excellent free themes. The “if they have the budget” argument just doesn’t fly at this point. Cost is no longer a barrier to entry.

      2) Define “crashing” please. Do you mean shutting down permanently or going offline temporarily? If Facebook shuts down, you’ve lost all that content and you’ll never get it back. If your webhost goes out of business, you still (should) have all of your own website files and it’s very easy to start with a new host.

      3) Yes, Facebook is open 24 hours, but numerous studies have shown that almost no one goes to Facebook to search for businesses. They go to Google. And when they go to Google, they’re going to get sent to your website in all likelihood, not to your Facebook page.

      I respect your opinion and glad that you shared it here, but I’ll stick with my belief that websites are a better long-term investment. I hate to see small businesses trying to build their on property that they don’t own. You’re beholden to whatever rules Facebook or Twitter want to put in place and you can lose it all at anytime — things you don’t have to worry about with a website.

  29. All your points are still relevant augmented by quality comments. More than ever your website should perform as the hub of your social media network; different social media channels cater for different audience segments that can be tapped into with targeted posts that pull people back to one authentic source of content that you own and control. Great article Matt; concise and just what I was looking for. Cheers!

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