Over the past few years, more small businesses and sole traders have made the decision to try and save money by not making a website for their business, and instead, creating a business page on Facebook. This can seem like a good idea to get your name known locally but what is the better option? A business website or a Facebook page.
Getting Visitors on a Facebook Business Page
A Facebook business page allows any company or sole trader to add their business details to its own dedicated page on Facebook. The hope is this will give exposure to their business and it does to some extent. However, It is important to remember the limitations of Facebook. Obviously, you want to get as many potential customers as possible see your business. The more people who know about you or your company, the more who will hopefully buy services/products from you.
When considering a business website or a Facebook page you have to take into account the user base. Most people assume that advertising (sometimes paying for ads) on Facebook is guaranteeing exposure. Facebook is the biggest social media network in the World after all, with over two billion registered users. However, as a small business, do you really think to have that amount of users spread across the World is actually of any importance to a small local business? Realistically, how many people will look at your business page?
Another massive flaw on relying in Facebook for obtaining customers is that not everyone uses Facebook. Additionally, those who do use Facebook are predominantly doing so to look at family and friend photos, chat with friends, etc. It’s not a social media platform dedicated to advertising and promoting business. Which brings us to the next problem.
It is Easier to Search for a Specific Business Website on Google
Finding a business on Facebook is actually quite cumbersome. You have to know exactly what you are looking for or be a member of business groups that may or may not cover your area.
Compare that with a website. With a properly designed website; with well-written content that takes into account search engine optimisation principles; it is easy to search for a specific type of business in a particular location. You simply type your query into Google and the most popular results are returned.
Additionally, when you have a website it tells your customers you are a professional business and not a cowboy. Do you really trust someone with no other evidence of running a business than a Facebook page?
I’ll give you a recent example of the dangers of using Facebook. I saw a woman in one of the local business groups on Facebook get into trouble recently. She paid a business on Facebook to remove some rubbish from her garden. She was assured by the company that it would be disposed of at a refuse site. Instead, her rubbish was fly-tipped illegally. She was able to prove that she had paid money to the company to remove the rubbish (she had all the Facebook correspondence). Unfortunately for her, the law in Scotland holds her responsible despite her best intentions. She was fined for illegal fly-tipping. The business was just a cowboy trader. A ‘man with a white van’ with no credibility and crucially, no website.
If she had searched for a business website she would have reduced the risk. It’s possible to check how long a website has been established. Also, larger companies will display their business details in the footer of the website. That information can also be cross-referenced on the Companies House website to ensure the business exists. Even if it is a self-employed person, you know they are serious of they have a website.
Now I hear you say, “my business is professional”. I’m not a cowboy. I’ll do good work and the comments that are left on Facebook will prove it. However, how useful are comments to a small business, really?
If for example, you are a boiler repair engineer. Your first job of the day takes slightly longer to repair, which means you turn up 10 minutes late for your next client. You fix their boiler. You think you’ve done a good job. But you get a bad review for unavoidable lateness. Is that fair? Do you want difficult customers leaving snarky comments?
Comments can be a great way of demonstrating you are a competent worker but they can horribly backfire unless you are always delivering perfection. Let’s be realistic. Nobody on planet Earth is delivering perfection all the time. Unforeseen circumstances will always affect you in some way. This is important to consider when deciding on a business website or a Facebook page. Comments can do more harm than good.
Compare Facebook comments with website testimonials. A positive aspect of a WordPress website for your business is you can add customer testimonials. Unlike Facebook, you can moderate the testimonials, so you ensure that unfair comments are excluded. These could either be a short section on your home page or you could allow comments on your blog page (assuming you want a blog on your website). Regardless of where you allow comments, you can moderate them all.
Developing Your Brand and Reputation
Designing your brand and becoming well-known in your field attracts repeat customers. Facebook has limited functionality when it comes to designing your brand. You can upload a header image and that’s about it.
If you hire a web designer, such as myself, I can design a website that showcases you to your target audience. It obviously costs money to set up a website but that cost is offset by approaching your advertising in the right way. By appearing professional through having a website. By developing trusting relationships with customers by having a website. You simply cannot replicate that trust and professional authority through social media.
It is always best to let a professional designer/developer build your website. Do not cut corners by taking the DIY approach. Designers, developers and content writers understand how best to attract customers. It starts by ensuring that on a technical level, your website works flawlessly on all devices. But then you have to create the branding which makes you memorable. That takes specialist knowledge to achieve.
Facebook is Supplemental to your Business Website
Facebook is not entirely without value. It does help expand your brand. Having a link on your website to a Facebook page is fine. You can always let customers know via Facebook if you have new blog articles, or special offers.
It also helps with search engine optimisation. Google looks for valuable links between your website and other websites in order to decide where your website pages should appear in a Google search. It’s a small part of SEO but it can be useful to interlink your social media and your website. However, social media on its own has no SEO value as you do not have a business website to try and push higher in Google rankings.
I hope this has made it clearer as to why you need a website for your business. It can be unclear and I understand why. Facebook has the financial power to advertise itself as a one-stop solution. I hope this article has informed you to some of the reasons why that is simply untrue.
Your business will never be taken seriously if you do not have a professional website with appropriate branding and content. It is essential to have this to build up a loyal customer base. Think of any company you have bought services or products from. Do they have a website? Of course, they have. Serious business people do not operate without one. You should have a business website instead of a Facebook page too.