Time and time again I come across websites that only have a Facebook site, and I shake my head, furrow my brow, get all annoyed, and usually don’t visit their business.
Now of course as a graphic designer, I am probably especially attuned to this. Also as a psychologist, studying consumer behaviour, it is super noticeable to me.
Now I am not against Facebook at all, it can be really great for growing your business. It can be great for connecting people, sharing stories, socialising, networking and definitely getting your business out there. But is it enough to have Facebook only? No, and that is what I will explain here.
So I have put together 7 easy to understand reasons why having a website is super important, even for your small business.
1. Time is important.
Time is an incredibly important commodity. To all of us. And while I might feel that sometimes we spread our time too thin, and we still need to focus on taking time to look after ourselves, the truth still remains that time is not finite in terms of our day to day life. There are only so many hours in the day, and so we want to get things done quickly. This is even more true today then it has ever been, given that we can watch something now, we can send something to someone else now, we can buy now- we don’t need to wait like we used to (when mail was only ever slow, and we had to wait a week for our next tv show instalment). We want things quick, and when they aren’t we get annoyed.
When a consumer is looking up a business, especially for the first time, they want the essential information quickly. Information like:
- What hours are they open
- Where are they located
- What do they have on their menu / or what products or services do they provide
- What are they about
- What special products, services, or entertainment do they have on right now.
How long does it take to find this on Facebook? If they have a menu at all on Facebook it is usually uploaded as a photo in one of their albums, but which one? How many photos are on their account? If this takes too long, people leave the site. New research suggests we have 3 seconds to help capture our audiences attention. Can they find that key information in that time? Not likely.
2. Selling yourself online
If you have a website you can have an easy to find button that points to your services, products or menu online. Easy. People can immediately find what you're selling. And then once they find it, they can buy immediately from your website.
While Facebook allows you to sell products directly from your business page, you have to manually manage all your orders one by one- which can be quite time consuming for your business. And you can’t sell through multiple channels at once this way, not ideal if you want to grow your business. However on your own website you can sell as many items as you want, however you want. You can also still sell those same products through Facebook as well, so you are essentially doubling your sales chances.
On your own website you can also sell services, digital downloads or vouchers. So if you own a cafe or restaurant you can sell dinner vouchers right from your site. So after showing how amazing your food is and your dining experience is, someone can buy a lunch voucher right then and there, and give it as a gift or come in later. A sale straight away! You could also add online bookings or reservations - further reducing your time as you don’t have to take a call and manually enter the booking yourself.
You could also sell services if you are a professional- like singing lessons, coaching or classes. Or provide digital downloads like planners, eBooks or workshops. All one on location, your website.
3. Your site is your aesthetic.
Your brand identity is what makes you known and ultimately what gets you sales. Your brand identity encompasses everything - your tone of voice (written or spoken), your images, your style. It is also your logo, your colours, your fonts. And with social media these choices are limited.
When you own your website you can completely control your aesthetic. Do you want your site to look busy or do you want more white space? Do you want monochrome or colours? Do you want fancy script fonts or bold chunky fonts? All of these things not only look cool, but they say a lot about your brand to the consumer. I’m sure you know the saying- a picture is worth a thousand words. Images, colours and information we can see plays a huge part on our subconscious idea of a brand and what it stands for. However with social media only a small part of this can be modified or truly customised.
Facebook is a brand too - so it needs to provide a cohesive look in order to allow its consumers to identify that they are dealing with their brand. So when you have Facebook only you are adhering to their brand aestehcic, and not your own. While this is completely fine for socialising and connecting (what Facebook is best at) it doesn’t allow your brand to really speak on its own terms.
4. You control your site.
Social media is always changing. They can change the algorithms, aesthetic and rules at any time and you don’t get a say. They can also be taken down or become unpopular at any time. Remember MySpace? It was HUGE! And now it’s hardly ever talked about. While I doubt this will happen to Facebook, we never know what the future holds. And using social media as you main hub means that you are at the whim of change. What happens if a social media site crashed? Or something happened? Can people still find you? Can you still advertise your business and sell your products?
If you have your own website then you are in control. You choose when changes are made, and you can stay consistent to your customers regardless of external changes. This makes you a trustworthy and reliable brand, that your customers can turn to no matter what.
5. Not everyone online has Facebook.
At the moment (July 2017) there are over 1.94 billion users on Facebook. Definitely too big to ignore, and absolutely worth having your business on there. Now for total transparency- I don’t have Facebook. This was both a personal decision and a professional one.
As I work as a psychologist I am constantly checking in with my emotional responses. I found that over time Facebook just didn’t feel good to me. I found I was often comparing myself to others in unfavourable ways, and I also felt that my time was sucked in to something that often didn't feel productive or valuable.
I also felt professionally I would prefer not to have Facebook. As a psychologist I am often seeing quite vulnerable clients, and I didn’t feel comfortable about having people be able to see things about me online. I know I can keep my page private, but we all also know how easy it is to connect to other people- and I live in a small town and so this happens all the time. Someone I know is related to a client, or a client is a shop owner of a business I go to- the connections are easy. This is what can be cool about Facebook, but for me it didn’t feel right.
Now it has been 4 years and partly I am just super stubborn, and I want to keep to my choice and buck the trend! But also I want to be careful with my time, and do what really feels right as well as what can work. So I have not returned to Facebook.
Pinterest is totally my jam. I literally spend over an hour on it every day, without getting bored. I feel inspired and motivated while on Pinterest, and I am constantly learning more things. So I wanted to use the media that I like the most, and one that also works well with the demographics that I am targeting. I might be losing out on business by not having Facebook, in fact I am sure I am, but I want to stay true to me, and I also want to be a role model for some of the young people I see to show them that you don’t have to follow every trend, no matter how big.
Phew! So that’s me!
But there are others like me. And when you don't have an account and you can only find a business on Facebook it is super annoying. Every few minutes a huge block comes up on the middle of the page obscuring everything - trying to get you to sign in. And when you close it then it just sits at the bottom, still cutting off lots of valuable information.
Also some business forget to make their page public, which means I can’t actually see anything without an account.
6. Your website is like quiet office space
I read recently that Facebook is like a pub- social and fun and noisy. It has a few columns as default and so it has lots of constant distractions, things that catch your eye, and pull you away from the brands message. When your customers are looking at a business page and logged in to Facebook they might see their friends come online, they might receive a message from them, or a customer might notice that someone they know has commented or liked something, which might pull them away from the business. The customer might also see "people also liked" in the right column, and click to a different business, away from your brand. There are constant distractions and so many easy ways to be pulled away from your business.
Your website, however, is like your office. A quiet space where customers can easily see and hear your business. Your message is easily conveyed and you donâ€™t need to fight for attention. You completely control what people see and hear and so you can limit how many things might take them away from your business, or how much you hold their attention. Your website is a professional space for people to quietly take in what you have to say and can really connect to your business more completely.
7. Having a website builds trust.
A website helps consumers to build trust in your brand. It shows that you are genuine and that you take your business seriously. You are willing to spend time and money on your business, because you know it is worth it. Your website is your quality product that you curate and construct. People know that Facebook is free, and there is nothing wrong with that at all, but free products donâ€™t denote the same level of quality as something that is paid for and something carefully crafted.
Having a quality, professional website builds customer trust, and trust builds sales.
What are your thoughts? Do you feel the same way, or has this changed your mind about getting a professional website? Let me know below!