Personalized websites designed by agencies can cost thousands, which is why small businesses sometimes consider substituting this tool entirely with social media, thinking they'll save time and money. Social media, however, can't replace a website: although it can be a cost-effective approach, social media platforms may not offer adequate features for most small businesses, especially when it comes to online sales. Here's why.
Let's dispel one myth
Building a website doesn't have to cost a lot.
There are free tools like WebSite X5 Go that allow you to build one for free, although with some restrictions. If you’re looking for more advanced tools, you can also find complete solutions at affordable prices, like WebSite X5's Evo version.
Basically, you don't necessarily need to work with a big web agency and invest thousands to get started: for less than €500 you can build and launch a complete, functioning online store and start earning money online.
Social media? Being online isn't enough
For a few years now, we've heard people say that having a website is superfluous, and that you can access everything you need for your online presence through networks like LinkedIn or Facebook, or others. There's a grain of truth here, in the sense that you can definitely create a huge presence if you're consistent and persistent, and you communicate well through social media. However, having a good website is the foundation for it all: that's where you should be directing the traffic your gain from social media. Let's examine the pros and cons of social media:
Social media pros
- you can create a free profile;
- you can build strong brand awareness;
- you can reach millions of people, including potential clients;
- social media is generally easy to use and understand.
Social media cons
- you don't own the platform If the platform decides to discontinue a tool or change the way things are done, and this was your main means of company development, your strategy could suffer heavy consequences. Consider those people who built programs based on Instagram's API, which was then changed in later releases. That software failed and the developers were bankrupted;
- even though signing up is free, the platform's goal is to have you post ads or subscribe to their professional versions (like LinkedIn premium, for example) to gain more visibility. Sometimes, the tools you have to pay for to grow your business can be hard to learn, or become expensive;
- social media platforms are full of sponsored content, so if your posts aren't timely and precisely planned, they could get lost in the abyss of “information overload", which leads people to ignore your messages.
Your website: the core of your online presence
Social media should only be used as a marketing tool, while your website should be the core of your online presence. Your website grants you total control of the situation, and you can do whatever you want with it:: you can use it as a display website, run a blog and use SEO tactics to appear in Google's top results, or make sales through a beautiful online store.
Whatever your goal is, social media can always help draw traffic to your website. That's how you should treat social media: as a marketing platform that re-directs traffic to your website. You can then use this traffic to grow your mailing list database, so that you can communicate with your contacts at any time, from anywhere, and on your own terms.
Although social media is a very important tool for increasing traffic, it's much more important to invest in something that you actually own, rather than building on somebody else's property. If you're not in control, the rules could change any day, as they already have, with huge impacts on your business. That's why we strongly suggest you invest in a website, and then use social media to reach new audiences and grow your business.