I see a trend among small business owners toward bypassing the traditional web site and adopting Facebook as their only online presence.
This is fast and cheap, of course. And it could be somewhat effective for select businesses. "Mom and Pop" retail comes to mind. But for most companies it's shortsighted at best and potentially crippling at worst.
Why? Let's look at what you get with Facebook vs. a web site.
What you get with Facebook
– The ability the create relationships with customers. You begin to engage in a conversation, and it leads to permission-based marketing. People who would never sign up for your newsletter will "friend" you on Facebook.
– Almost instant Google search ranking – for your business name, at least. More on keyword optimization later.
– An easy interface. Posting text, photos, and video is pretty much a no-brainer.
– Lots of useful plugins/add-ons that can increase activity on your page and help make you more relevant to your audience.
– It's fast and "free". While Facebook is free in its price, it's not "free" in its nature. More on that next.
What you get with a web site
– Control over your content. The web site is "free" in its nature. Everything runs on your server, paid for by you. If you don't like your service provider, you can up and move to another. And the code that runs your site – WordPress, etc. – makes no legal claims on your content. Unlike what you'll find in the Facebook license agreement.
– Better search engine optimization for keywords. Content management systems like WordPress have plenty of SEO plugins that help you place good keywords in places where The Google likes to see them.
– Better control over your presentation. You design the web site to convey the intended message about your company. Hopefully, your lawyer's site doesn't look like that of your favorite pizzeria. For the most part, Facebook looks like …. Facebook.
– Lots more useful plugins/add-ons, depending on your platform. WordPress now has more than 21,500 plugins available.
– Easy integration of Facebook content. Many plugins are available to help you display Facebook activity on your web site – so that the two types of content complement each other.
Bottom line: While Facebook provides an excellent platform for jump-starting promotion of a business, beware the temptation to make it your only resource. A plan that integrates the advantages of a web site will serve you better in the long run.
WordPress designer Robert Pitts of Lakeland, Florida, is the owner of Web Designs by Robert G. Pitts, which specializes in the WordPress content-management platform. View the company's "No-Surprises Pricing" policy.