This is a question that recently came from one of our newest clients. And obviously, I can't deny that my answer will be a bit biased. After all, I am in the business of selling websites, but even if I put my own bias aside, in most cases, I'd say every business needs a website. Social media sites should be used to support and supplement your brand, but I wouldn't advise a business owner to rely solely on a social media site.
Before I started working with Adedia, I was a financial advisor and worked for a large Canadian corporation. We were allowed to have personal websites, but we had to pay out of our own pockets, so I found it a tough decision at first. Should I invest in a website? Or should I piggyback off the marketing efforts of the company I was working with?
Ultimately, I decided to go ahead and invest in my business by setting up a personal website - and for several reasons...
A website gives your business some legitimacy
My main reason for setting up a personal website was that I wanted more legitimacy a business owner. When people searched for my name, I wanted them to find my unique URL.
And I wanted to be able to market that URL. I added it to my email signature, to advertising that I placed, to any listings I added to 3rd party sites. And if you have any signage for your business, you can even add it. to your signs. It's much easier to remember a domain like adedia.com than it is to remember social-media-site/this/that/
Can I piggyback off the marketing efforts of the franchise I work with?
Absolutely! Companies that allow franchisees to have their own websites depend on companies like Adedia to protect their brand. They spend a lot of time and money perfecting the message and the image they want to portray. You should definitely piggyback off their efforts. In fact, you are probably obliged to help spread the corporate message! But the information shared on the corporate website will definitely be corporate information.
You might be able to share a little information on your company's corporate websites, but you can't share the things that are unique about you. When I was a financial advisor, we had a corporate site, but that site didn't tell my clients and prospects why they would want to work with me. I couldn't share stories about my background or my knowledge. There was nothing on the corporate site that enticed people to work with me. The same could be said for most franchisees.
Why would someone want to work with you as a business owner? What got you interested in your business or in the franchise? When did you become a franchise owner? Why should prospective clients come to you instead of going to some other, similar business? With your own site, you can answer those questions. With a corporate site, you can't.
Can I market my business with a Facebook page instead of a website?
Similar information can be shared on Facebook, but with Facebook, you're dealing with a 3rd party site. That means you have to live with their user interface and their terms of service - both of which may change. You also have to live with the fact that many people - for one reason or another - don't use Facebook. Those non-users are never going to see the info you share.
If you only have Facebook, you may struggle to rank on Google and other search engines. Facebook is a great place to share with your existing customers and their friends, but it's not easy to optimize your content so that new customers will find you.
With a website your statistics are your secret. You can see how many people are coming to see your site, but nobody else can. With Facebook, it can be very obvious - especially in the early days - that you're still trying to grow your following. If your competitors have more followers or likes than you, you can't hide it. A website provider can give you a great deal of analytical information. You'll be able to see where people are from, how many people are checking out your site, which pages they look at and which they don't.
So which do I choose? A website or a social media page?
I actually think it's important to have both a website and social media profiles. They work together, but one doesn't - and shouldn't - replace the other. You can use a website to share information about yourself and share that information on your social media sites. Those links between websites and social media profiles are what drive people to the information you're trying to share. The more you have, the better the chance of someone finding you.
Setting up a website can feel expensive - which is why we've introduced Websites Families. When our clients are part of a franchise, we are able to spread the cost of a site across multiple clients. The monthly cost of investing in an Adedia site is actually less than you'd pay to go out for dinner once a month. And if you ever decide you're not comfortable with the expense, just let us know and we'll pull the site down. There are never any penalties if you cancel.