Were you or a client personally victimized by the Facebook shutdown of 2021?
Chances are, the largest social media sites being down for several hours affected your own business and also your clients’. Ads stopped running, posts couldn’t be published, and some companies lost their entire web presence because they rely only on Facebook and Instagram to do business.
Which is the biggest mistake a business can make.
When Facebook launched business pages in 2007, there were comments made by the big marketing bloggers that gone were the days of the small business website. Facebook could provide an online presence for these small businesses and they wouldn’t need the expense of their own websites!
Sounds great, right?
Except that it’s very, very dangerous to rely on a third-party for the entirety of a business’s online presence.
The Continued Importance of a Small Business Website
If you’re struggling with getting small businesses to understand why they need a website, Facebook just gave you a big gift. My personal and business feeds were full of small business owners who rely heavily on social media to grow their business and communicate with customers. After a day of not being able to communicate and understanding that even the big tech giants can have, well, tech issues, you’re going to find people a lot more amenable to listening to why they need their own website.
The big problem with a business putting all their eggs in the social media basket? They have no control of that platform. It’s not just if Facebook and Instagram go down for 7 hours. It’s the fact that you can’t control how your content gets seen. The fact that you can’t fully control your brand standards. You can’t control in what order posts get seen and how people interact with you or your content.
Having a business website, customized for that business, gives your clients control over their brand story. It gives them control over how their story is represented and laid out. It gives them multiple ways to connect with and communicate with their target audience. There’s a reason why the website is the foundation to a business’s marketing – it’s literally the only piece that you can have full control over.
Websites Build Trust
Another key factor in all of this? A website builds trust. When a company relies only on Facebook and other social media platforms, there’s always that concern in the back of the consumers’ minds that they’re actually going to get what they paid for. Facebook pages can be thrown up quickly, can be taken down quickly, and you can take money without having to guarantee anything.
Without a website, a business can prevent their target audience to build that trust with them. Are you a real business? Will you be sticking around to deliver on the product/service you claim you’re going to deliver on? Will you take their money and run? Can you prove the results that you’re claiming you can help them achieve?
On the other hand, a website shows that a company has invested into their business. It proves that they’ve taken at least some time and a little bit of funding to provide a better experience for their customers. With a website, you need to ensure that you’re answering questions, working on building trust with who your business is, and using a custom domain name. These simple things show that you believe in your business enough to invest a little bit in it first.
I’m not saying that when a business is first getting started that having just a Facebook page is totally a bad thing, but it’s certainly better to not rely on only social media for as little time as possible.
Control Your Communication
When you rely only on social media, you run the risk of not being able to talk to your customers if something goes wrong with that platform. With a website, you can have multiple ways for a customer to reach you.
I think every business needs to have at least a contact form on their website that feeds into their email. However, I’d also highly recommend that you have some sort of phone number listed. Unfortunately for us introverts, the majority of people still prefer to be able to pick up a phone and call. You don’t need to list your cell phone number either; you can register for a free Google Voice number that can be routed to a cell phone or just be answered on a computer.
If your client provides a service where they might need to answer questions quickly, consider adding a live chat plugin to the website. Someone doesn’t have to be available all of the time to answer questions immediately, but it can help to give their audience a new way to get help quickly.
And never underestimate the power of an FAQ page. You can quickly answer the majority of a lead’s questions without them having to reach out for more information, either.
With Facebook going down yesterday, a lot of small business owners lost their ability to be contacted. Don’t let that happen to you or your clients. Instead, make sure you’re providing several ways for your customers to reach out and communicate with you. For many businesses yesterday, while Facebook was down their customers knew they could go to that business’s website and get a phone number or email address. You never want a business to be in the situation where that’s not even an option.
Google Likes Websites
The other important factor in all this? Google likes a full website over something built on a quick platform or social media account. If you want to get found organically through searches, there’s almost no way to do so and have your business be built largely on Instagram or Facebook. While yes, Google somewhat indexes social media content, its ability to properly index that content is restricted by the social media platforms themselves.
If your customer wants to be found long-term, having their own website is about the only way to have any control over that.
Communicating in Multiple Platforms
It’s not all about your website either. While social media is great and having a website certainly helps, you don’t want to rely on your only incoming traffic to be from social media either.
This is why building up an email list and even a texting list is so important to the longevity of a business’s success. Even having a presence on multiple platforms and not putting all your eggs in one Facebook basket means that you have a variety of ways to reach your customers.
Let’s examine a couple of things that could have happened to businesses yesterday. Say your client is in the middle of launching a new digital course and the doors close this week. Being able to have Facebook ads be seen and reminders on social media about doors closing would be huge to that last push to get sales. But what happens when Facebook goes down for 6 hours and you don’t have the ability to push your course sales any other way? Well, with an email list of quality leads or a texting list, you’re still able to push out messages to your leads and not lose momentum. Chances are, those leads are going to be higher quality and have more of a chance converting anyway because they’re not as cold as an audience on Facebook. The business owners who have high-quality email and texting lists didn’t skip a beat yesterday. Those without, well, they looked like the meme above.
Another example is communicating solely through Facebook and Instagram. If you only post on one or two platforms, there’s not really a way for your audience to see you if those platforms go down. While I’m not a huge fan of being on every social media platform for the sake of it, I do think that you need to be somewhat on multiple. You’ll notice that everyone migrated to Twitter yesterday and filled the feed with tweets about the shutdown. Big brands like Tampax, McDonald’s, Microsoft Teams, even the Israeli Defense Council (yes, literally) went viral yesterday with their responses to Twitter’s “Hey literally everyone” tweet. Even I was able to communicate and joke around yesterday via Twitter (and I kind of hate Twitter). I was also able to re-energize my LinkedIn and get a conversation going there. The point is, these brands took advantage of the shutdown to generate conversations about their own businesses and still get interaction with their audiences.
A Business Should Be In Control of Their Marketing
Notice a pattern in what we’ve been talking about here? With your own website and multiple communication platforms, a business simply has more control over their own marketing and how it’s presented. You’re not constrained by how many characters you can use in a post. You’re not affected by an algorithm and how much reach you can get. You’re not limited to the design aesthetics of the app you’re using. And you’re way less affected when the world’s largest social media platforms crash for 7 hours.
With its own website, a business gets to be 100% in control – of the look, the branding, the way they tell their brand story, and how they connect with potential customers. A business gets to choose how their customers can communicate back with them, too.
So yes, while you can build a business on a social media platform, you’re doing so on rented land. It’s not yours, it’s theirs. Don’t take that risk with yours or a client’s business. And the next time they tell you that a website isn’t worth the investment, start by asking them if they remember what they did when Facebook and Instagram were down for 7 hours on October 4, 2021.