What about Facebook?

Sometimes, a small business owner might think they’re covered if they just make a Facebook page, and not actually have a website.  There’s a lot of problems with that though…for example, you wouldn’t kick 3 out of every 10 customers out of your store, would you?  But that’s kind of what you’re doing if you only have a Facebook page – according to Pew Research, about 30% of internet-using adult Americans don’t use Facebook at all.  20% of online American adults who don’t use Facebook report that they used to…and quit – and in that same Pew Research study, over 60% of current Facebook users say they take breaks from using it for several weeks at a time…or more.  And how many times have you heard someone say “I have a Facebook account, but I don’t actually use it” – which drops the effective reach of Facebook even further.  Even worse, it seems that younger generations may be abandoning Facebook all together.  But everybody uses Google (or some other search engine, like Yahoo! or Bing)…and when someone searches for a business (or a product, or a service) online, they’re looking to find a website.  If you don’t have a website…they’re not going to find you.  They won’t know you exist.  And that potential new customer just takes his business to someone that he did find a website for.

Here’s the thing about Facebook – it’s a great social networking service…obviously!  That’s what people use it for.  But…think about who actually goes to your Facebook page.  People who go to your Facebook page are people who already know you and like you.  And it’s fantastic that those people know you and like you, and it’s wonderful that they might want to come to your Facebook page and make a post or like something you posted.  But here’s the thing…Facebook doesn’t help you get new customers.  If someone doesn’t already know you…and already like you…they’re not likely to discover you on Facebook.  In point of fact, think of your own behavior – say you’re thinking about finding a new restaurant to try that you haven’t even been to in a particular area.  Are you going to try to navigate Facebook to figure out a way to gather a list of restaurants in a given area?  Or are you going to go to Google (Yahoo!, Bing, etc.) and just simply type in “restaurants” to see what comes up for your local area automatically…or maybe “restaurants Minneapolis” if you’re planning on hitting the town in Minneapolis for your night out?

So here’s the fundamental deal – Facebook and other social networking services (like Twitter and Pinterest, for example) are nice ways to have something that your current customers can go and see and interact with.  But the point of having an internet presence for a business has to be predicated on helping the business grow – which is to say, your web presence needs to help potential new customers discover that you exist, and then help convince them that they should bring their business to you instead of to someone else.  Facebook doesn’t help with that – but a good website does.  And smart business owners leverage a great website along with Facebook and other social media they use to really create a compelling web presence to maximize their exposure and grow their business by reaching out to potential new customers…not just catering to people who already know and like you.   It’s also impossible to differentiate your business on Facebook…you know what your Facebook page looks like?  Every other Facebook page.  You don’t really have the ability to control and present your business the way you should on Facebook – at least, not if your intention is to try to use it as a replacement for an actual website.   Which isn’t to say you shouldn’t have a Facebook page for your business – as noted it’s a popular way to interact with your friends and fans…but just recognize that Facebook is for and about your existing customers, while an effective website is about getting you more customers.

Here’s another thing that you might not have thought about…ever see ads or other “sponsored content” on a Facebook page?  Advertising makes money.  But who’s getting the money from the advertising on your Facebook page?  Are you getting that money?  Of course not…that’s how Facebook makes money – by leveraging your information as a vehicle to get ads on their website.  Call us crazy…but if someone’s going to be making money by selling ads fueled by information about you and your business, shouldn’t that someone be you?

Google and other search engines also create handy categories and collections of businesses, with different kinds of presentations of that information for their search engine users…like automatically showing such businesses on a map, or as collections of Restaurants or Auto Repair Shops.  You know what your business needs to get that kind of special treatment from Google (and other search engines)?  A website.

You might be thinking something like “well, all of that may be true, but I can’t afford a website.”  There’s a couple points about that we’d like to make…first, granted that you’re in business to make money, and making money pretty much depends on getting customers, the inevitable fact of the matter is that you probably can’t afford to not have a website.  But secondly, having a great website probably costs a lot less than you think!  At Northrup Systems we can custom-build for you a wonderful website to help you get new customers and leverage any social media you may be using for a very affordable price.  Please contact us and we’ll be more than happy to pay you a visit and discuss some options that will help you take command of your online presence and grow your business – quickly and inexpensively!

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