A strong digital presence is key to success in our tech-oriented society. Maintaining a website, however, requires time and money that small business owners don’t always have in great supply. If you’re looking for ways to simplify your online efforts, Facebook’s recent updates might seem pretty appealing. But are they good enough to stand in for having your own small business website?
New and Improved Business Pages
In early September, Facebook rolled out some significant updates to Pages, including new sections that business owners can add to Pages as well as a bigger call-to-action button and improved page layout on mobile devices. They’ve also added ability for page owners to make updates pages from mobile.
Could these more customizable Pages take the place of maintaining your own small business website? Here are the four main issues to consider so can decide what works best for your business.
1. Easier and Cheaper
Since so many people use Facebook for personal social media, it’s often easier and more familiar than using a website builder or blog. And Facebook is free, whereas there’s a cost involved if you hire a firm, a freelancer, or an employee to build and maintain a business website.
The ability to both reduce the time and money cost of digital marketing is, understandably, appealing to many small business owners. Using a Facebook page as both social media tool and business website can make the work of building an online presence simpler, easier, and cheaper.
2. Built-In Limitations
However, while Facebook allows customization of your page header, your store sections, and of course, the content you share, that’s the limit of the branding and personalization you can do on your business page. Your business branding is subordinate to the blue Facebook brand, and your content, including offers, promotions, and updates, must stay within the guidelines established by Facebook. Any content you post on Facebook can be used by Facebook for their own purposes (until you delete it from Facebook), so you lose the appeal of exclusive, unique content.
With 1.4 billion active monthly users, Facebook brings what small businesses need the most: access to a growing customer base. This may seem like a no-brainer as far as making your decision: go where the people are.
However, it’s important to remember that millions of people using Facebook does not mean millions of people seeing your page and your updates. Your fans will see what you post to Facebook, but not all of your fans will get all of your posts on their newsfeed. You’ll still have to work hard to gain an audience, just as you would with a website or blog.
3. Mobile Friendly
Since Facebook is a huge company with billions of people using their platform, you can count on regular updates and continual mobile optimization of the Facebook app. Having a big company take care of mobile optimization for your digital marketing is a huge relief, for example; you know you shouldn’t ignore mobile consumers, but keeping up with mobile requirements can be a real headache. Using Facebook guarantees that your efforts, on the Facebook platform, anyway, will be mobile optimized and kept up-to-date.
4. Facebook Dependency
There’s a built-in problem with depending on a big company to do your optimizing and updating for you, however. That problem is twofold: lack of control and lack of accessibility.
When you pay a small firm, a freelancer, or an employee to build and maintain your website, you have input over the look, the content, and on which features are a priority and which are not. Similarly, when you experience technical issues, you can get to a real expert, on your payroll, to help you solve the problems.
When you depend solely on Facebook, you have very limited control. You have little, if any, input on priorities and decisions made with each new update or improvement. And you have no direct line to call when Facebook is down, when an upgrade doesn’t work, or when there’s any sort of technical issue with your Facebook page.
Facebook still may be the best tool for your online efforts, but it pays to understand what you give up in exchange for an easy-to-use, popular platform. If you’re comfortable with the dependencies and lack of control, Facebook can definitely simplify your digital outreach, especially if you’re a new company. However, if you want to have more say in your branding, your content, and your priorities, keep that website going; use Facebook as part of your online strategy, but not your only tool.