Some small business owners I know have asked me about only having a Facebook Fan page and not a website. “Hey, its free and everyone’s on Facebook – so why not ?”
With budgets getting tighter and tighter I will be the first one to admit it’s worth looking at free alternatives for certain services from time to time. However, in this case it is an unwise move. Here’s why.
#1. You don’t own facebook. Unless your name is Zuckerberg you don’t own Facebook and therefore you have very limited control over the content on it. What if facebook suddenly makes a policy change that hurts your business ? too bad, you ‘re out of luck.
#2. You can’t directly sell products/services on facebook. No shopping cart, no ‘click here to buy now’ action. (at time of writing this article)
#3. The comment “everyones on Facebook” may have some validity. There is no question about the popularity of facebook. What business owners have to ask themselves “is facebook the best media to reach my customers to reach my goal of XXX”. Facebook is a “social media” platform and one would think that the majority of people using facebook are there to connect with friends and family hence the “social” part of “social network”. Are they really interested in products or services ? Only you can answer that for your own specific circumstance.
For those that have a Facebook Fanpage I suggest that they use that medium strategically to drive traffic to their own websites. Now there is a vital caveat here – You have to put the time and effort into updating your website. There’s no point directing people to an outdated website. You will have the reverse effect and drive traffic away if it is stale with outdated information.
An example on how to do this.
Let’s say you sell bicycles.
1. You write a blog article on How to maintain your bicycle.
2. Then you post the article on your website.
3. Then you take the first sentence (or two) of the article and post it on your Facebook Fanpage.
4. For people to read the entire article they need to click on a link that forwards them to your website so they can read the entire article.
5. Assuming you have been updating your website, you can further entice them for more actions: i.e. sign up to your newsletter, offer a coupon or discount etc.
So to summarize, don’t overlook the importance of having (& owning) your own website. Yes Facebook can add value to your marketing tactics when used wisely and with forethought but be cognizant that facebook may change for the good or bad at random intervals but you have ultimate control over your own website and you decide the what, where, when, and how of it.