Social Media or Website? How To Know Which One Your Business Qualifies For
For a while, I’ve been observing very forceful behavior directed at local founders who prefer the comfort of social media over investing in a website. Intentions aside, force fails because it’s a violation of clear boundaries. Can you imagine what it would feel like to have someone jumping through your window after being turned away at the door? And it’s completely unavoidable if you understand who your ideal clients are. Having a business doesn’t qualify someone to own a website any more than going to church makes someone a Christian.
These are the blind spots that can easily have web designers and web design enthusiasts probing at the social media situation with the wrong key. Click here to learn the 10 things that qualify you to own a website.
The Marketing Dilemma
For those hung up on social media, they have a wrong concept of what it means to have a website for their business. They consider it more of a liability than an asset. (I spoke about why that is, here). Within context, they are absolutely right. No clear voice, understanding of what makes them the person to work with, or clarity on who they work best with, their investment will be a complete waste of time if this was the focus. But their thoughts reside more around the numerous costs attached, like domain, hosting, design, business email, updates, and more. But, being conscious of needing an online presence to keep up with the digital age, they swap marketing their business online for the “convenience” of social media. Not discerning that they’ve technically decided to become a squatter or a roadside vendor.
Okay, yes, these platforms allow us to use them for free, but, the reality of the arrangement is, you’re setting up shop in someone else's store minus any rights and ownership of that space. How else would you explain the ability to wipe out an account without liability? And because you’re not paying for any consideration or security, a sitting duck is what you are when Facebook or Instagram decides to block or delete your business account due to violation of their community guidelines, even despite not finding any evidence to support their claim.
Wouldn’t you rather build on property that belongs to you?
This is the advantage of owning a website for your business vs having a social media page for your business: you’re not just investing in a deed, you are also providing a safety net for yourself. Think of it like a musician's ownership of their masters: creative freedom to release content however you want, via (in the case of a website) a channel you control. And just in case the elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top floor, the casual suggestion of just “starting a new social media page” should you lose the one you have is a tone-deaf response to the urgency of what’s being covered in this article, and a reason you’re not a good fit for owning a website. Someone like you will likely let missing your hosting payment for an entire year roll off your back like water on a dasheen leaf: no worries.
...A new page will not protect you from future malicious trolling possibly set up to impede your ability to market your services if social media is what you use to get clients. And yes, there is always reporting the situation, but until you’re actually engaged with making a report, you’ll never know how unhelpful these platforms really are.
We’ve all learned of the horrors of business owners who’ve lost followers and even business because their social media accounts got deleted by those truly in charge of the platform. What we don’t know is how many of those accounts were maliciously targeted. Therefore, you’re not only at the mercy of the information they don’t share with you so you can protect yourself moving forward, but as it would seem, you’re also at the mercy of their patience.
...Unfair? Yeah, but that’s the reality of having no upper hand.
Something Greater Than Social Media is Here!
You’re spending time doing all this content marketing, but towards what end? The numbers, shares, saves and your engagement rating are milestones towards a specific goal. Part of your strategy should also involve driving that interest generated back to a space you control that is capable of converting the right interests out of all that visibility into actual business. That space (for those of us with real expertise to offer the world) is called a website. Without it, you’re missing a fundamental piece of your sales funnel.
This is the misconception with tools; not understanding where they fit, when you need them, and who actually needs them.
Your social media page is not meant to be a substitute for a website. But, you also shouldn’t invest in a website if you don’t have the reputation to leverage, but I digress. Avoid leaning into the narrative of ‘the convenience of social media’; it's an illusion. Ask yourself, if the cost of owning a website is greater than the cost of your inability to reply to a job inquiry or someone’s genuine interest hindered from being explored due to broken links.
I am the Founder and Visual Brand Strategist at The BrandTUB