Is There Business Value In A Website In The Age of Social Media
Things are always changing. We get born, go through life and die. Through life’s journey, we experience changes in the world, some of which revolutionize our lives. Naturally when we experience the new, we tend to assume that it is time to do away with the old.
The Old and The New
It might seem that I am about to blog on something as profound as life itself but my objective in this blog post is to focus on the old and the new in the form of websites and social media.
The advent of the Internet and the World Wide Web saw the rise of websites in the early 90s. Websites were an exclusive domain where only a few and mostly corporates had the financial and technical means to run them.
This trend has lessened over the years because now the ability to get a website is within the means of most people and organization but it is still an exclusive club when you compare those who have one to those who do not.
Having a website gives the owner the potential to reach out to multitudes and do it cost effectively. A website gives the owner a voice. It gives them the ability to create content and reach people with their opinions and disseminate information to a wide audience.
It can be said that owners of websites held a sort of monopoly over those who did not own one. This was a monopoly that was broken by the rise of social networks in the early 2000s.
The arrival of social media meant that the majority of humanity now had the same power to create that owners of websites previously called a privilege. What’s more, the cost of ownership of this power was only limited to their ability to get online.
It can be argued that there is a hidden cost to using social media but that is a topic for another blog post. Whilst websites involve actual monetary expenditure to run and own, social media is essentially free.
The old had made way for the new and the new does not require expenditure. The main objective of the old and the new is the same- to share content and ideas.The question then becomes, is there business value in a website in the age of social media?
I would like to think that the answer to this question is a resounding yes! You have to understand that even though the new and the old have the same main objective, they have their nuances which makes a case for keeping the old, especially for businesses.
People tend to rush into thinking that the old has to make way for the new and be discarded. This is not always the case because sometimes the nuances of how the details in how the old differs from the new dictate that they be used in parallel or in combination.
A website is suitable in meeting certain objectives that make it more suitable in those roles compared to social media.
Control of Own Narrative and Brand Ownership
It needs to be understood that social media platforms are essentially websites and apps that have positioned themselves as platforms for sharing content for the masses. As a result, those websites and apps dictate everything that goes on on those platforms.
Take Facebook for example. If you are going to participate as a user on the platform, you have to abide by Facebook’s guidelines and rules that dictate what you can and cannot post. Of course these platforms are not unreasonable when setting these rules and guidelines but it means that every organisation using such a platform is restricted.
As an owner of a website, you have essentially no such restrictions and are free to post whatever you like on your own website, within reason of course, especially with legal parameters in mind.
For business, a lot of consideration to the marketing potential of both websites and social media has to be at the forefront. Just as the social media platforms dictate what you can post, they also dictate how you should post it.
Therefore, the way you present your brand on social media is dictated by the platform. With a website you are able to specify in the design how you want the design aspects of what you are posting to be structured.
Visibility and Posterity
The most prominent feature of social media is the news feed. Typically, you would have an infinitely scrolling news feed which is populated with what the social media platform considers your interests.
Whilst the news feed is OK for scrolling through your interests, it means that for a business who is trying to catch your interest, you have no way of easily looking at what they posted last week. In order to do that, you would have to go to their profile which is not really what most people tend to do on social media. People typically focus on their news feed.
Like discussed above, a website can be designed any way you want and not dictated by another party. Which means the owner can decide that some content could be placed within easy reach or it can be placed on a feed.
This way, content which is meant to linger longer can be placed on areas of a website where visitors will be able to easily find it. This cannot be done on social media. If you want content to persist and have posterity, a website is the way to go.
Search engines are still the best way to get found online. Whilst a profile on social media can help in this regard, a website is still the best way to rank and be found in search.
Search engines only index profiles on social media and not the content itself. For a business, it is important that the business gets found in search based on the content it puts out in addition to the social media profiles.
A website allows a business to put out content and have that content indexed by search engines such as Google. It is not possible to implement a good search engine optimization strategy without owning a website.
Not A Case of Either...Or
To reiterate, the arrival of the new does not necessarily mean out with the old. There are two possibilities here; the old and the new can work in parallel, or they can complement each other. This later case is what is the case for websites and social media.
Just because we have social media on one hand does not mean we should abandon the idea of having a website. On the contrary, the two work well together and business should use them to meet their objectives.
Content created on the website can be shared through social media, thereby increasing exposure and the conversations on social media can also be posted on the website, thereby closing the loop.