One of our clients recently inquired about the relevance of her website. She said that someone informed her that websites don’t serve the same major purpose they did even a couple of years ago and that social media is replacing websites.
This feedback is nothing new. As social media continues to evolve, there’s been speculation that it will replace websites, email and even the phone as a customer service outlet.
My simple response is one that I’ve reiterated countless times – social media is a relationship building tool that works best when it’s integrated with other marketing outlets. And websites are no exception. Social media is not nor should it be a replacement for other communication vehicles, especially your website.
I firmly believe that a website is the heart of a solid marketing presence. There are some folks who want to take a short-cut and bypass a website. I also see a few - very few - cases in which a website is not always necessary. Overall, though, it's fundamental. In fact, it's the first thing we evaluate when meeting with prospects for the first time. When used most effectively, a website works in conjunction with all of your other marketing - including social media.
I could list a number of arguments about why a website is critical, but my overarching reason is this: You own the content and the web space. Sites like Facebook or Twitter can disappear at any time - and take your following with them. As we've seen over the years, these sites change a lot. And there is very little we can do about it. I would never advise someone to put all of their eggs in one basket, especially one that can disappear without a trace.
I've found that websites don't 'work' for some people for one of two reasons: either they do not know what exactly they want their website to do or they have not built the site in a way that does what the business wants it to do. While that's an oversimplified version, it's one I stand by because I think people get “starry-eyed.” They want their website to be the holy grail of leads, when again, it’s one piece of the puzzle.
Each quarter, we evaluate and develop marketing goals for our clients and we develop a plan to integrate all of their communications outlets to meet these goals. While we don’t specialize in website development, e-mail marketing or graphic design, we understand that these pieces are critical to the success of a social media plan. We would be doing a disservice if we did not evaluate them – and refer our business partners who can help effectively execute these pieces.
In fact, one of my website partners, Eric Karkovac of Karks.com sums it up well, stating, “Your website should be a place where visitors can get more information about your brand. Customers won't necessarily want to scroll through social media archives for that information.”
Have you ever considered ditching your website in favor of social media? Why?