Do you remember when you decided to cancel your landline in favor of your cell phone? That amazing device had transcended its image as a luxury to become an essential tool. Out with the old, in with the new.
Compare this to social media for business, which has gone from a novel experiment (mostly for interns) to a strategic weapon when managed by seasoned professionals. As business participation on social platforms continues to grow and the platforms themselves offer more capabilities, some have begun to ask, “Is it time to dump our website in favor of a robust presence on social media?”
Considering the time and expense required to maintain a website, develop content and get value out of social media, it’s not an unreasonable question.
The only absolute in digital marketing is change. I wrote about the topic of websites vs. social media a year ago and while I continue to believe most businesses still need a website, I now believe there are some cases where this is starting to make sense. In fact, I recently read a blog post titled “Is This the End of Websites as We Know Them?” that pointed to a number of
celebrities, sports stars and a company called “Obsessee” who have chosen to forego building a
website and focus completely on social media.
I know, I know . . . you are not a celebrity. Why should you even consider this?
There are definitely some advantages to this approach. If you run a fairly simple business dumping your website could make your work life easier. For example:
Advantages of a Social Media Only Presence:
- Lower Cost – Building and maintaining a website costs time and money. Add in the expense of SEO and SEM and it can seem downright prohibitive.
- Leverage a Pre-Existing Audience – If you already have a strong following on at least one social platform, strengthening your presence on that platform could make more sense than trying to drive them to a separate website.
- Easy Updates – Some social networks allow you to customize your social profiles with optional features. This make it easy to add functionality without custom coding.
- Built In Promotional Capabilities – Content that is housed natively on social platforms is sometimes rewarded with extra visibility. And, if you wish to further expand your reach, targeted advertising options are available right within the platform.
- Present a Cutting Edge Image – One could argue that choosing to abandon a website is a sign of an incredibly forward thinking organization.
I could continue to add to this list, but I’m sure this gives you the idea. Of course, there are also some very serious downsides to consider.
Disadvantages of a Social Media Only Presence:
- Validation – Customers still expect to be able to search and find an original online presence. If you only exist on social media they may not take you seriously.
- SEO – Public social media profiles and posts are searchable but they don’t hold as much weight as a website. Maintaining an original website AND social media accounts will create a stronger online presence.
- Ownership and Control – Building your primary digital presence on a social platform leaves you vulnerable to any restrictions or changes that platform decides to impose.
- Loyalty – Social media platforms rise and fall in popularity which means you could lose the community you worked so hard to grow. I have never hear anyone proclaim that they are
quitting Google, but it is not unusual for people to give up on Facebook.
- Lack of Ability to Differentiate – You can add bells and whistles to your social profiles but at this stage it can be tough to stand out if your only online presence is a social media profile.
If you are already a well-known public figure or run a very small business, dumping your website to concentrate on social media might make sense. For the majority of businesses, however, the disadvantages still outweigh the benefits. Take the time to clean up that old website and carry on.
I think there will continue to be strides in this direction and a social media only presence will eventually become a viable choice for more businesses. I also think that similar to how cell phones really took off when they became “smart phones,” there could eventually be a technological shift that changes the game completely. But, we’re not there yet.
The digital landscape is complicated and costly, but your customers are online so you must be too. Companies who wish to explore the concept of moving to a social media only presence could start by choosing one social platform to be the hub of their social media efforts. Create some original content for that platform, promote it natively and measure the results in comparison to content hosted on your website.
By staying abreast of your options and experimenting with this concept on a small scale, you can stay competitive and agile and be ready to shift with the times. Work with professionals who make it their business to stay abreast of the constant changes in this space so you can best leverage the symbiotic relationship between all of your online assets.