Is it Time to Dump Your Website for Social Media?

Old fashioned photo to illustrate possible shift from using a website to using social media to promote a business.

Last updated March 13, 2019.

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 to a strategic weapon. As business participation on social platforms continues to grow and the platforms themselves offer more capabilities it begs the question. Is it time to dump your website in favor of a robust presence on social media?

Website vs Social Media, a Reasonable Discussion

Considering the time and expense required to maintain a website and develop content, it’s not an unreasonable question.

The only absolute in digital marketing is change. I’ve written about the topic of websites vs social media before. Initially, I completely rejected the idea. And while I continue to believe most businesses still need a website, there are cases where this is starting to make sense.

There are a number of celebrities, sports stars and a company called “Obsessee” who don’t have a website. Instead, they focus completely on social media. And I recently read a blog post by Jay Baer, about Facebook and its push into messaging, where he predicts that the shift to mobile devices will push websites out of existence.

Old, beat-up car to show that things (and concepts) become outdated.

I know, I know . . . you’re not a celebrity. And you very much depend on your website. So, why is “website vs social media” even a discussion?

There are definitely some advantages to this approach. If you run a 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 cost 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 makes it easy to add functionality without custom coding.
  • Built-In Promotional Capabilities – Social platforms sometimes reward native content with extra visibility. And, if you wish to further expand your reach, there are plenty of targeted advertising options.
  • 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 the 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’ve never heard anyone proclaim they’re quitting Google, but people give up on Facebook every day.
  • 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.

Website vs Social Media, What’s the Verdict?

Gavel and books to represent a verdict.

If you’re already a well-known public figure or run a very small business, dumping your website 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. A social media only presence will eventually become a viable choice for more businesses. I also think there could eventually be a technological shift that completely changes the game. Similiar to how cell phones really took off when they became “smartphones.” But, we’re not there yet.

It’s true that the digital landscape is complicated and costly. But your customers are online so you must be available to them wherever they expect to find you.

You could explore the concept of building an online presence on social media only. Choose one social platform to be the hub of your social media efforts. Create original content for that platform and promote it natively. Then measure the results compared to the content hosted on your website.

There’s nothing wrong with experimenting with this concept. It will keep you competitive, agile, and ready to shift with the times. But work with professionals who make it their business to stay abreast of the constant changes in this space. And until you’re ready to pull the plug on your website, leverage the symbiotic relationship between all of your online assets.

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