In the world of small business in 2020, the easiest way to get online is to start a social media account. Social media has a myriad of benefits that help businesses get off the ground when they first start - it's easy to use, it's free, and it allows you to start reaching your target audience straight away. While it seems like a natural progression from a social media account to a website once your business starts to build some steam, it's important to know the benefits of a website and if it really makes sense for your brand. A website is an investment that requires time, care and money, so the decision to build one should be an informed one.
So - does your business need a website? Or will a social media account be perfectly adequate for the time being? Ask yourself the below 5 questions to find out.
There are some things people look for on Google - probably a dentist, a hardware store, an accountant, a plumber. Then there are other things that people don't look for on search engines and tend to stick to social media - a hairdresser, a personal trainer, a makeup artist. Investing time and effort into a website, climbing up the google rankings and pumping out blog content is all well and good, but it’s useless if that’s not where your customers are. If you’re directing significant traffic to your site from other channels it can still be worth it, but if the website doesn’t differ significantly in value offering over your social media account it’s mostly pointless.
One important distinction to make here is that if your business model offers services or products to other businesses (B2B), regardless of how people normally find you a website is a really good idea. When an employee is looking to do business with you on behalf of their company, they'll need approval from management first. You'll look much more legit and professional to said management if you have a website versus if you just have Instagram.
Social media is good for a lot of things, but hosting long form content that’s easy to read & easy to find is not one of them. Have you ever seen those huge captions that influencers sometimes put on their Insta captions or Facebook photos? A lot of time and effort is put into these, and they can yield great results when they appear in people’s feeds. But what about 5 days after? How do you search for that content later? How many people go back through an influencers feed for content they posted a few weeks ago? Sadly, not many.
Websites can allow users to browse through old content easily, segment content into categories so it’s easier to find, and give old content the chance to continue providing value through good SEO & high Google search rankings. If you post a lot of lengthy captions or statuses on your business socials, a website could definitely be of benefit to you.
Social media is great for engaging with your audience by featuring your most popular products or giving case studies of some of your most recent work. But if a customer was looking to browse your full product range in one spot, or find detailed information about the multiple services you offer (without enquiring directly), would they be able to do that on your profile? It’s probably unlikely. Even if you use social media as your main lead generation platform, if your business offering requires more explanation than a few paragraphs you’re better off not trying to squish all that information into your Insta bio.
This is another reason why businesses such as makeup artists, personal trainers and hairdressers don’t usually need a website - their services are pretty self explanatory.
If you're in the business of eCommerce, you should consider a website if your product range is anything more than 20 or so SKUs. Customers CAN shop on Instagram, but trying to browse or search is a nightmare.
When it comes down to it, social media is free and websites always cost money. Even if you build it yourself on an easy-to-use platform you’ll still be paying for hosting costs, domain costs and possibly integration/widget costs, depending on how many additional features your site has. If you do build it yourself, you’ll likely have to pay someone to manage your SEO if you want to get anywhere in Google rankings because that stuff is complex. If you don’t build it yourself, developers and designers don’t come cheap - they’re experts, so they charge professional rates.
Consider how much revenue you have coming in and whether it’s something you can afford. Even if it is, consider what your expectations are and how you expect having a website to increase your revenue (cause if it doesn’t do that, what’s the point right?).
The above questions are really important to ask yourself if you're smaller business, as a website is a big investment. However if you are in fact a ~~really big deal~~ and your brand is a household name, it's a good idea to get a website regardless of anything else. The main reason for this is that if you are a big deal, you want to be the main source of information about your brand. If people Google your name (and they will if you're like, you know, SUPER famous) you want them to find the information that your brand is presenting about itself - not the random commentary other websites might be providing. Let's be honest though, if you're a big brand you're not doubting whether you need a website. You're just doing it. Why are you even here? Get out there and get it done!
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