We are in the age of the Internet – gone are the days when your biggest marketing tool was word-of-mouth. While word-of-mouth is still important, how it spreads has drastically changed. Hashtags, reviews and online presence can make or break a business.
In this era, you have a large variety of marketing options and avenues to explore. Broadly, you can promote your business through either websites or social media pages (or even both). Choosing the correct online platform for your business depends on a number of factors, including the size of business, how famous it is, how important customer feedback is, and a variety of other factors.
So should you opt for social media marketing, or create a website for yourself? Hopefully, you’ll have a clearer idea after reading this blog!
Websites and social media both have their ups and downs, and the time and money you should invest in either should only be decided after you’ve given it enough thought.
So what advantages does one avenue have over the other?
When you own a website, you have complete control over everything, from layouts & colors, to photos, content & web applications you might want to include.
While there are laws and restrictions, what you do on your website is solely dependent on you. It offers you a platform through which you can make sales and display your products and services.
Unless you’re running a content curation website, everything on your website is owned by you. You have complete ownership of the content, graphics, images, and even applications within the website.
24 hours availability
Unlike running physical outlets or offices, your website and all its services will be available to all your customers 24/7. This is a huge advantage, especially if you do business internationally.
Maintenance costs & time
A website is something that needs to be updated regularly. Whether it be content, services, products, or even the layout, you need to be constantly be spending time and money to make sure that your website is up-to-date and relevant.
Having a simple website is pretty similar to having a social media page, but the more features and customization you want in your website, the more time and money it will take to set up.
Stronger marketing campaigns
Generating traffic and increasing visibility through a website is a lot more difficult than doing the same with social media pages. To achieve this, a strong and detailed marketing plan needs to be hashed out, and implemented effectively as well.
As of 2019, Facebook boasts 2.32 billion monthly active users, and Instagram comes second with 1 billion. With such a large potential customer base already set up, gaining visibility on social media platforms is a lot easier than doing the same on your website.
Little to no technical expertise needed
Social media pages require very little technical know-how to operate effectively. The technicalities of social media websites (running ads, making sense of analytics, and similar tasks) can easily be learnt through free online resources and experience.
The platforms themselves are designed to be very user-friendly and provide adequate learning resources.
Pre-optimized for search engines
If you do an online search for any business, chances are that the social media pages rank higher than the actual website of the business. Social media pages are pre-optimized for search engines, and can save you a lot of time and effort in this regard.
Easier to market
Social media pages, in essence, are used for marketing. The services, features and functionalities that they offer provides you with a marketing avenue that is easy to pick-up and master.
You might own your business, but you do not own any of your social media accounts. This can pose a variety of problems to your business. For example, if your main marketing platform is on a social media site and the service provider shuts down, you have to start from scratch again.
Google+ recently shut down, rendering any marketing efforts on the platform void.
When creating social media accounts, you only have control over the content, images and videos you put up. The layout of the page, information you can provide and such factors are controlled by the service provider itself.
Websites analytics can be customized according to need. You can track any and every metric you can possibly think of (who came to the website through which channel, how long are they staying, what are they looking at, and more). However, you can only track and analyze data that the social media platform provides in the case of social media pages.
So what should you opt for?
Your choice of marketing avenues depends upon your business.
If you’re a small start-up with limited funds, you may want to opt for a strong social media presence over a website. They are easier to use, and can help you build a community of customers and well-wishers. Most importantly, they are free and you can set them up in minutes (in comparison websites require paying for domain, hosting, emails, etc.).
A bigger business should invest in a website as it increases your credibility, and strong SEO (Search Engine Optimization) will allow you greater visibility than social media pages offer. Most importantly, larger businesses have a bigger budget to customize their website according to their brand guidelines. This is also helpful when running any marketing campaigns (e.g. creation of custom pages for custom campaigns).
At the end of the day, most businesses will still need both – just the time and effort invested into each will differ. How you determine which is a higher priority is up to you and your business goals.