Today, it feels easier than ever to share your ideas, message, and your business with others. Whatever kind of company you run, it has become nearly essential for your business to have an online presence in order to thrive in increasingly competitive markets.
In the early 2000s, no one could have foreseen how important and impactful social media would be, changing the landscape not only of our personal relationships but our professional ones. If you are just starting out with your small business, it can feel like social media is a great way to create a strong and present brand. But there is more to it than posting a picture or tossing out a pithy statement. In 2021, regardless of how powerful social media seems, it is more important than ever to create a website for your business.
But why? In this article, we will look at the perks of social media, what the benefits are to having your own website, the drawbacks of over-reliance on social media for your business, and how you can master the art of using both.
Read on to find out more.
Do reach out
Social media is in no way “the enemy”. It can feel challenging and overwhelming when you are using it for business purposes for the first time, but platforms such as Twitter and Instagram are truly invaluable for creating connections with your customer base. These are great tools for allowing you to show your brand personality and be a little less formal, and it usually costs nothing, making social media a tempting sole option for burgeoning SMEs.
You should totally use social media to reach out and “plant a flag” in people’s consciousness. However, using this as the only way you promote and market your business could end up losing you opportunities in the short and long term, as quite frequently, the conversion point for most people is a website, not social media.
As we have said, social media is an excellent way to broaden your horizons and create awareness for your business. However, there is one very good reason to not rely on it completely.
You cannot own any kind of social media platform.
This might seem like an obvious statement, but if you take the time to get your own website up and running, you will control that space. The instant interaction you get with your customer base on social media is amazing, but that comes at the price of tight guidelines you will need to follow in order to remain on the site. It often only takes one wrong move for your page or account to be suspended and potentially banned for good (sometimes when it is not even your fault...). This is not a future-proof way to run a business of any size.
With a website, you have ownership, and, while it may take a little more effort to get the customer base you want, the initial financial outgoing is more than worth it when you are safe in the knowledge your website won’t be going offline unexpectedly.
Legitimise your brand
What is the best and worst thing about social media? Anyone can have an account.
Relying solely on social media for your business can sometimes make your business look less legitimate. While it takes capital to set up a website, it will look more professional to both potential customers and possible investors. Your business gains an air of being more legitimate than any one of the thousands of businesses battling to be seen on social media. And quite simply, many customers that are interested in you through social media, want to go and find your website to learn more and buy from you.
With your own website, your logo is not doing battle with the logo of some social media giant, helping your brand message to stand out. You can also control the customer journey from start to finish - there is enough temptation to click away as it is in this fast-paced digital age, without a notification about a friend’s birthday distracting them!
Control your image
Social media is simply a tool you can use to amplify your image, so having a strong image to start with is important. Think about businesses and brands that you know and love and the websites you use every day. Their image is one of the most powerful things about them, from their company colours to that logo you would recognise anywhere.
Your website is your world. You can create and develop your image exactly as you want it to be, unconstrained by character limits, image cropping, or following the latest hashtag trend.
Creating a brand voice that is independent of the social media melee is a fantastic way to distinguish yourself from the crowd. After all, you don’t control social media, and if the micro-blogging site you love changes its algorithm and your reach drops off, you still need to be standing strong.
Are you a marketing maven? Then you have probably used social media to gain insight into how your customers interact with your posts. However, it is worth noting that this is not the best way to get an overview of your customer’s journey or to get valuable data on your core customer base.
By setting up your own website, you open up a whole world of other marketing opportunities such as search engine optimisation (SEO) and Google Ads. This means you can control how people find you and improve your search engine ranking through clever marketing. Not only this, tools like Google Analytics can give you a better insight into how your customers are finding your website and exactly how they are interacting with your content, allowing you to more successfully target your base. You don’t get that kind of insight through your socials.
Live in both worlds
This is in no way a call to shut down your social media accounts. Far from it - the personal connections you can make by using social media as a marketing tool can support your success, but make sure you are using social media in the correct way; to forge connections and to strengthen your message so when your customers are ripe for the picking, your website and social media work together to drive new business for you.
As you can see, there are huge benefits to having a brand presence on social media. And yet direct selling on social media channels is not the success story we want it to be - conversion rates are not high when compared to “old fashioned” websites. Therefore, it is best to use a combination of social media and running your own website in order to create the best journey for your customer, and a successful business for yourself.