While building your business, I am sure you have come across one or two small business owner who claim they have struck gold by only using a Facebook page as their main and only online presence. They might have even told you that not only have they been able to keep their current customers satisfied on facebook, they can also attract enough customers to keep their businesses afloat. Then they say there’s no need to build a website for their business and you shouldn't either…blah blah blah…but in order to think that way, that business owner is focusing more on what’s currently working and less on what could be improved to grow their business in the future. A simple shift in their focus from present successes to future opportunities can quickly shed light on the holes in that theory and start to show what the business is missing by only using a facebook page as their online presence.
Web design can take a business to the next level. And if your SMB is serious about establishing a fantastic, conversion-driving online presence, it’s going take a lot more than ‘likes.’ A Facebook page might be a helpful nice-to-have for an SMB wanting to reach an audience, but it won’t do enough to help turn it into a reputable, respectable brand. To do that kind of heavy lifting, a website is needed for many reasons.
#1: A Facebook Page is a tool, not a site
A Facebook page does have its benefits (note: we said benefits; not advantages because there is nothing that a Facebook page actually does that a website doesn’t). It’s free, easy to set up, and with a monthly active user base of over 2 billion, the social media behemoth provides business owners with the opportunity to attract numerous leads.
Facebook also provides a nice way for SMBs to engage with customers. There, they can answer questions, promote blog posts, post photos and keep customers up to date with the latest-greatest offerings that you might have. The only trouble is, anything posted on a Facebook page is time sensitive. With each new post that is created, the previous post gets pushed further down the page’s timeline until it’s no longer visible. To find it again, visitors will have to do some serious scrolling. There’s no effective way to retrieve important information, and all you get in terms of search options is the standard search box that appears at the top of every page. Also, there’s no way to keep posts static, except for one post that can be pinned to the top of the page’s timeline for easy access. Not bad, if your business has only one important thing to say.
#2: A Facebook Page has limited SEO
Speaking of searching, a Facebook page offers very little in terms of SEO other than simply being discoverable through search engines. Since all Facebook pages follow the same template, there’s virtually nothing that can be done to tailor content and keywords for better discoverability (especially from organic searches). And even if there were a way to optimize SEO on Facebook, visitors would still need to have an account to log in, access and interact with the page beyond what you see on a SERP.
In terms of design, the options are extremely limited on a Facebook page. All a business can do is park its important info and a few design elements such as pictures and logos in their designated spots –– P.S. Don’t forget to make sure that the image file type, size and dimensions meet Facebook’s requirements and community guidelines, which are subject to change. This brings us to our next reason.
#3: Facebook Pages belong to Facebook
With its updates to its Business Pages, Facebook is on its way to establishing itself as a micro-web of sorts (whether they intend to or not), where any business (and customer) can occupy a space, seemingly free of charge. And while no money might be involved, there is a price: anything created on Facebook belongs to Facebook first. Whoever set up the page or profile merely rents it.
Sure, you as a business owner might have access to solid marketing and analytics tools along with some creative say in what goes on the business page, but ultimately what Facebook says, goes. The page is still subject to all rules, regulations and most-importantly algorithms that Facebook uses at its discretion. Consequently, no reward can be guaranteed for any efforts made to boost engagement. All a ‘like’ on a Facebook page means is that a user is interested in the page’s content. That’s it. They still have to engage with the page on a regular basis, or Facebook’s algorithm will remove its posts from their timelines.
#4: Sites belong to You
A website, on the other hand, belongs to the business that has created it. It is square one; the raw material over which a designer has full, limitless creative control. You’re free to mold and shape it from scratch to meet your client’s needs, with little to no restrictions.
On a website, the business comes first. Thus, anything done with it, and any tool used on it, will be for the benefit of the business first. For every business-boosting tool (eCommerce, Marketing, Analytics) that Facebook might offer on its platform, there is a better, more-robust real-world counterpart that can easily be used for an SMB site. In fact, many agencies use these tools to offer niche services such as marketing, SEO and even social media packages to SMBs. Hard to get that with just a Facebook page.
Say you have special marketing materials that you would like to make available for download; you’ll need a website for that. If you try to do it on your Facebook page, all you’ll be able to do is create a post telling your audience where to find the special materials on your sites. There is no place on Facebook to actually house them for direct download.
Reason #5 Websites = Brand Power
What can a site tell us about your business? Everything you want us to know about your brand. Not just who you are, but also the where, when and why of your businesses –– in whichever way you want to tell the world. On a Facebook page, business info is relegated to the design equivalent of assigned seating. And if your SMB wants to deviate from the rigid template that Facebook currently offers, it can, at best, get creative with images. For example, you could upload a banner with some creative copy in it as a background image. There’s no way to modify the page’s template.
With a website, there are no seating assignments for your design elements. You and your client make the rules. Every component, from business info to maps and customer testimonials, can strategically be placed (and rearranged, if something doesn’t work) for the best-possible UX. As a result, your clients will reap the maximum benefit from visitor interaction, rather than just leaving things up to chance or curiosity –– as one is forced to do on a Facebook page.
#6: Websites tell a story
Every business has a story to tell. Perhaps it’s an inspiring tale of a beloved local business that has been the bedrock of a community for 30 years. Maybe the story is an underlying brand message (i.e. “Just do it”) that your client wants to deliver in every part of their SMB. With a website, you have the power to tell it through specially-curated designs and content.
#7: Websites show experience
You deliver more than just products and services to your customers; you also create an experience with your brand. Which of these resonates more with you: a “home-repair service that does quick, good work,” or a “family-run business that always goes above and beyond the expectations of its customers; where the employees always greet you with a smile and you can rest assured that no one will ever cut corners with their services?” Customer experience is what turns a business into a brand and distinguishes it from similar service providers.
Yelp reviews are a powerful way to build a reputation for your business and generate interest. That’s why a business owner might be tempted to just park their info on a Facebook page and let Yelp do most of the work. But a stellar website can be the converting factor for many potential customers (especially those who expect all businesses to have websites). A website helps SMBs capitalize on Yelp reviews by effectively showing people why they’re receiving such acclaim. Can you put fancy images, text, and videos on a Facebook page? Yes, but without the full creative power to show what a terrific experience it delivers, an SMB runs the risk of under representing itself.
Survive on Facebook. Thrive on a website.
Yes, an SMB can get by with a Facebook business page as its primary web presence. But we guarantee it will miss out on several opportunities to flourish as a business. If a brand can be great, why should it settle for being ok? Check out our iWeb program and let's find a solution that works together!