Yes! You Still Need a Website.

According to the commercial director of Facebook in the U.K., soon we will no longer need our own websites. His rationale? Facebook will be so integrated into the web that businesses, even major companies with a huge web presence, will abandon their own website in favor of the social.

Not so fast.

Yes, Facebook’s welcome tabs, soon to be developed with iFrames, do have the potential to function as mini websites. Functions like e-commerce, forms, surveys and polls are some of the many features available directly on the tabs, allowing for a good amount of interaction right on the page. Include in that the multitude of third party applications built on top of Facebook’s interface that allow programmers to create custom programs, and it’s true, Facebook can function much like a website. Their hope, and their plan, is to eventually create a platform that will keep users contained within its walls, complete with branded stores where users can purchase goods and where content is organized around our social connections.

We’re not there yet, and I’m not convinced we will get there any time soon.Slow Down

I don’t know about you, but I’m uncomfortable putting my business in the hands of a third party, one over which I have no control. Haines states himself that “There have been eight iterations of the [main] Facebook design over the last few years… [and] it will look different in a year”  (Techradar.com). So, in a year your business page will change, and you have no idea how. Additionally, anyone using Facebook for awhile has experienced the “where’s my stuff” reaction when logging in to find the page rearranged and functions changed. I’ve had people contact me in genuine distress, not able to find the photos, status updates or pages they depend on for keeping in touch with friends and brands. Do you want your website subject to the whims of Facebook’s developers?

To top it off, recently I navigated over to my own Facebook page to post an update, and encountered this:

Yikes. So this is the state of Facebook right now. Frequent, often misunderstood changes, occasional pages down due to site maintenance or updates, and frustrated users ready to throw up their hands. Yes, Facebook has some awesome features, and they no doubt will rule the Internet in the not too distant future, but will they really be a substitute for corporate and small business websites?

Proceed slowly.

Are you ready to give up your business website?

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About Sue Reynolds
Sue Reynolds is the founder and owner of Carmine Media, a web and social media consultancy. She is the manager of social media and web design at R+L Carriers, where she works with businesses and non profits to build their web presence and nurture brand loyalty.

7 Responses to Yes! You Still Need a Website.

  1. James A. Lamb says:

    Hi, Sue.

    We were talking about using Facebook in my company’s social media campaign. For our purposes, I was firmly against it. It could just be me, but I don’t see the return on investment in advertising on the same site that hosts Farmville. Maybe FB could have a corporate version, separate from the minions, but I would still agree with you. I would want total control over my website.

    Tony
    http://tonylamb.wordpress.com

    • Sue Reynolds says:

      Thanks for your comments Tony. I’d like to delve a little deeper as to why you aren’t interested in pursuing Facebook as part of your social media strategy. Facebook can be an excellent tool for customer engagement, brand awareness, company culture etc, but it depends on your goals for the page and your overall marketing strategy. What is driving your social media efforts overall? What do you hope to accomplish? If I can help answer any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.
      Sue

  2. James A. Lamb says:

    Hi, Sue.

    I work for the Section on Statistical Genetics within the Biostatistics Department at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Currently, we are trying to increase the number of applications we receive for pre- and post-doctoral positions within the section, focusing on those candidates with an interest or background in biometrics, biostatistics, or epidemiology. So far, we’ve been using other schools’ like department websites to place help wanted ads, for lack of a better term. My suggestion was Twitter to market our positions. The constraint is time (budget is nil, and scope is up to us, but someone who is already very busy is going to have to manage our Twitter presence fulltime). As for Facebook, I don’t think it will hit our very niche target market.

    Tony

    • Sue Reynolds says:

      Yes, Facebook and Twitter marketing do take time to develop, and time to maintain. Facebook was developed originally for college students, and it still has that vibe to it. Twitter is a little easier to build up a following, but doesn’t always have as much interaction. You might also consider using LinkedIn for your purposes. They allow ad placement targeted to groups, and targeted to particular professions. Just a thought.
      Sue

  3. No, I’ll will use training wheels for a while ………then consider giving up my site!

  4. Sherri Krazl says:

    Totally agree Sue! Plus let’s not forget not everyone is on Facebook – he he. Love your blig and your entries keep it up! Sherri

  5. Sue, I can’t imagine anybody with an adequate level of concern for their business putting the fate of their website in Facebook or any social media site. I think Facebook is a great marketing tool, but it has limitations and as you pointed out, they can change their format any time and your site is merely along for the ride.

    But mostly, consider the value of having your company’s name as a URL that lets people easily find your site, and then consider the number of site visitors you’d lose if they had to figure out that Facebook.com goes in the URL somewhere. I just can’t picture too many companies letting that happen.

    Good article!

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