This was the question asked of me at the Leitrim Business Network ‘IT expert Q & A’ this week. I’d like to expand on my answer here.
It’s a valid and pretty common question and to be honest, not one I knew how to answer when people first started asking me. After all, you can probably reach a hell of a lot more people on the likes of Facebook, Linkedin & Twitter than your own freshly made website.
My simple answer is that you should have BOTH your own website and a presence on all the major social networking sites. The bigger footprint you have online the better. The only valid reason I can think of for not having your own site is if you have absolutely no budget, but many people still don’t realise the cost of web design has come right down these days.
What I would try to avoid is that old problem of having people think that you’re a business that can only afford a free web presence. It’s like having a fancy business card and a big ugly hotmail or yahoo email address on it. Nothing spells success and professionalism than a nice modern website. It can be just as much a mark of quality as a marketing tool.
Here’s a breakdown:
Facebook Pages & Twitter profiles are pretty basic
All that’s on anyone’s Facebook Business page (unless they spend serious money on having Facebook apps developed) is a small ‘About’ section, a news feed and maybe some photos. Same with Twitter. A small bio section then just a list of posts. Is that really the only business presence you want people to see!?
With your own site, you can lay it out how you like and have content presented more logically. I like to think of Facebook & Twitter as a teaser for your company, like a fish hook that you dangle in the stream of people. You give them the basics of your company and have them click through to your proper website where you present them with your full, properly branded business information.
Facebook in particular are forever changing things around, whether it’s the size of banner images, logos or just the general rules on what you can and cannot do. With your own site you don’t have to be at their mercy, you control everything and always will.
Facebook wasn’t always popular and may not always be. What if you spend serious time and money cultivating followers and likers only for Mark Zuckerberg to get bored and sell the site to move onto something new? Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
My blueprint for a modern online business precence is as follows:
- Create a profile on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and any other Social Networking site that may be particularly relevant for your business, ie – if you sell visual products, maybe a youTube account too to show them off properly,
- Make sure to properly fill out each site profile with your business info, service list, location and web address link,
- Build an audience by spending some time connecting to new people on each site. Most of them make this pretty easy by suggesting friends based on your email contacts or location,
- Build a standalone website with a modern web publishing system like WordPress,
- Concentrate most of your efforts on your own website by regularly writing relevant news content/blogs,
- Integrate your website with all your social networking sites to automatically send news posts through to them. Dlvr.it is good for this and FREE. This way you can be active on a pile of sites at once, from one location without really having to be on them.
If you’re like me and sit in front of a computer all day, you’ll have that extra bit of time to go in an be active on the networking sites too. Interaction gets you noticed remembered and liked. Reading other peoples news also keeps you in the loop as to what’s going on and what the prevailing mood is which can be helpful.