Why startups and small businesses shouldn’t isolate their online strategy to just Facebook

Last weekend I wanted to try a new bagel shop I heard about down the road from my place. So I looked for it online. After searching, all I could find was their Facebook page.

No menu, no opening hours, so I didn’t bother even checking them out.

This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed businesses that only have an online presence through Facebook. That’s probably because for years it has been drilled into small business owners that social media is the best way to engage with their customers.

Facebook is attractive to small business owners because it is quick, easy, and it opens up their brand to the massive international user base. In the abstract it’s great, but when you dive in you’ll find Facebook can seriously limit the ability of your business to grow and reach new people

Is it a good idea to leave the traditional dot com website in favour of a single Facebook page?

In short: no. Here’s why:

Reach

Facebook isn’t the internet. Keep in mind more people worldwide aren’t on Facebook than are on it. Relying on it exclusively means your business’ profitability and audience is at the whims of a Facebook algorithm change.

A recent Forrester research study shows that top brands on Facebook are reaching only 2% of their fans, and only 0.07% of followers actually engage with each post. Facebook is geared in a way that even if someone ‘likes’ your business, they don’t necessarily see all of your posts unless you pay for an ad to boost your content. Traditional websites don’t need ads to grow an audience.

Facebook no longer holds the social media monopoly, with users now branching out and using other platforms like Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. If your fans move on to another social network, migrating to another platform would be challenging, and in some instances impossible.

Another side effect of having everything on Facebook as images is that those who are vision impaired cannot get that information easily – nearly 400,000 people in Australia are blind or have low vision. Putting content these people can’t access is telling potential customers you don’t care about them or their needs.

Categorisation

If people are searching for a local cafe, restaurant or dry cleaning business, it’s more than likely that they will search Google first rather than logging into Facebook.

Users can’t find the content they’re after through searching by genre or category like you can in Google. They want to see what a business offers, the opening times and contact details without having to sift through Facebook for 10 minutes, or worse, get distracted by content that their friends post instead of viewing your business’ page.

Websites offer a way for search engines, and the people who use them, to find your site based on the keywords/phrases you use. Ultimately Facebook controls the way your page is discovered, and they can change it any time, potentially killing your business traffic overnight.

Growth

If you isolate your online strategy to Facebook, it’s going to be difficult to grow the business beyond the confines of your own friends without paying significant fees to boost your page.

Another important thing to be mindful of is that by exclusively having a Facebook page you’re limiting your identity and credibility as a brand as you’re essentially riding their wave.

Whilst you are able to slightly personalise your page with a cover photo and profile picture, you become a faceless brand; it doesn’t have the same individuality as a website uniquely designed for a business.

The tools that are out there today are absolutely stunning and even those who aren’t particularly tech savvy can build stylish, usable and easy to edit websites in less than an hour. Services like Squarespace and Wix are cheap and really user friendly.

Don’t let Facebook dictate how you sell your business online, put your own flair and spark into it, your customers will love you for it.

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