Digital Marketing Bias: “A website is no longer necessary.” or “A website does everything a social media page can do.”
The role of the website has become a lot more convoluted over the last several years as social media platforms build in more and more functionality for business and user pages. This complexity has led to two simplistic and opposing views of the landscape which boiled down is “Social Media platforms can handle my entire online presence.” or “My website can do everything social media can.” Neither view is the most advantageous but let’s look at them individually.
Social Media platforms can handle my entire online presence.
This is most often stated from someone who does not want to invest the time, energy, and/or money into a site build or rebuild. And to be honest, if your website is a brochure site with an intro message, a few photos, and a contact page then social media can do all those things. But to say that social media can do everything a website can because it’s able to mimic a half-assed website is flawed logic.
There are a few things to think through on a website that social media pages can’t or won’t do well:
- Dynamic functions or apps – social media platforms won’t be able to support any dynamic web builds. If you plan to use the site for anything outside of the pre-set social posting framework or API builds, a website is necessary.
- You own it – Content you place on social media pages isn’t really yours. It becomes part of the platform. The reverse is also true. Associated content and ads are becoming more prevalent and more sophisticated in correlating to similar subjects. You are giving up a level of control on what content is associated with your pages as these automated feeds are placed.
- User Experience – Social media pages are template driven. While those templates can be customized, you can’t break out of the framework. The framework is often much more convoluted than a focused website and can result in a much poorer user experience.
A website does everything a social media page can do.
This view is typically stated by those that don’t like or don’t understand social media. It’s often an excuse to stay off the platform because it’s not “me”. Many people don’t like using social media personally, and that’s fine, but eliminating your business from this valuable channel is foolish.
Here are a few things that your site will not do as well as social media platforms:
- Generate an Audience – No matter how good your blog or content is, you’ll be able to generate an audience for it more effectively by including it on social platforms. It’s impractical to build the amount of exposure social media offers independently.
- Information Exchange – Social media is designed for intercommunication. Furthermore users have embraced the platforms and are comfortable with interacting through it. Even if you built a sophisticated posting and communication application on your site, you would never achieve the same mass acceptance and sheer volume of users that can be accessed through social media.
As with all biases, a balanced view is likely the most advisable. Set your website up for a comfortable user experience and for any advanced functions you aim to build. Use social media to drive target audiences to that content and interact with them on a ready built platform. In this way both channels support and improve the other for maximum effectiveness.