As social media becomes increasingly popular on the Web, some businesses find it difficult, especially if you are a small business owner without the resources to have dedicated staff to work on your Web presence, to keep both a company website and Facebook page up-to-date. There are also other social networks, video, and email among the other online marketing channels all competing for attention.
In order to help business owners focus on how to invest their time and money online, it is important they understand their customer base and how they might reach them online.
Look at the Business Needs
To decide whether your focus should be on your company website or Facebook page, you need to take a good look at what your business does and how it most benefits from its web presence.
Do you make sales online? Do you developer deeper relationships with customers or meet encounter ones on your Facebook page leading to more sales? You want to target your time to the format that allows you to best connect with current or prospective customers and brings in sales.
If you make a large number of your sales online, it is key to keep your focus primarily on your website. However, like a social gathering, Facebook and other social media are places where people can share what they like and their opinion. This can make for great word-of-mouth referrals. However, Facebook is principally about building a brand and customer relationships, which may not be directly tied into sales.
Add to that the fact that visitors often don’t think of sites like Facebook in a commercial sense. Customers visiting your profile are more likely to go there for information, not to make a purchase, while they may seek both information and expect the ability to buy items if they visit your company website. With a Google search that brings up your website, a prospective customer can have more specific intent to purchase a product or service.
On Facebook, as more ads are introduced, other businesses may be competing for that customer on your own page.
As a marketing and informational tool, Facebook is a fantastic option for the average business. For service companies or restaurants, a well-designed and active Facebook page can generate interest and draw clients in to brick and mortar businesses.
Facebook allows for interaction between customers and business owners and representatives. It also provides an easy format for you to provide all the necessary contact information and even keep your regular customers updated on events, specials and sales.
Talk to Your Customers
Feedback is always a great thing, and if you think you are going to need to realign your focus to either a web page or a Facebook profile, you need to know how your customers use your online information.
Find out how your customers find you. Do they immediately look on Facebook for you, or do they seek out your business through a search engine that would be more likely to pull up your website than your social media profile?
Do they conduct any transactions through your website or do they just locate your company contact information, which is readily available on Facebook without the hassle or cost of maintaining a business website?
When may Social Media be Better
Some types of products and services lend themselves better to social media promotion than others. For example, a clothing store might have more success in attracting a social following to see the latest fashions as opposed to a plumber.
I recently spoke to a local jewelry storeowner with one location and she told me that they spend almost all their online marketing time on Facebook – posting pictures of new products and interacting with customers. For a fun, visual product like jewelry, this makes a lot of sense. Also, Facebook is quicker and easier to use than getting into the backend of a website.
Even if Facebook is all the rage now, its popularity could wane in the coming years. And with a Facebook page, you don’t own the page, Facebook does. With a website, you own the right to the domain and you own the content. Like a lot of things in life, you want to be diversified and not put all your eggs in someone else’s basket.
Which to Choose?
There is no single answer for everyone to this question. Since each business is unique, this decision is one that needs to be made based on knowing your business and customers the way only an owner or manager can. Ideally you are active on both Facebook and your website but knowing your customers can help you allocate your time in a more focused manner.
Business should also consider other social networks such as Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest, among others, as they can also be effective ways to reach customers.