Social Media has become ubiquitous in today’s world. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and even Snapchat and Periscope are so common that they now come preloaded into most mobile phones and almost everyone, even everyone’s grandparents, have an account. In fact, social media platforms have grown to the point that large established multinational corporations such as General Motors and Apple use them to engage with customers and reach out to potential target markets. So the question must be asked, if a company is already using social media successfully, do they need a website?
The answer of course, is a whole hearted YES. Why might you ask? Here are a few reasons why it is just as vital as ever to have a comprehensive modern website as a part of your marketing strategy.
1) There are a lot of social media platforms and no way to advertise all of them in one place.
Sure, you can post your Instagram photos to Facebook and share you Pins on Twitter or even post a cohesive brand message to all of your accounts through services such as Hootsuite, but how will consumers see all of your various branded messages? A website can essentially act as portal to drive your customers to the message delivery that best speaks to them. Yes, someone who already uses Pinterest can search for your company, but what about the consumer who may be looking to your company for ideas who doesn’t have a Pinterest account?
2) Social media accounts can be faked – websites are much more difficult to imposter.
Anyone can create a social media account with your company name and post messages that may not reflect your marketing efforts. While it is true that someone could do the same for a website there is a key difference: how authority is derived. For a social media account, the more people who follow an account, the more authority it has. While some of these imposters may be quite obvious, some can be much more insidious. This can be seen in the fake Target Facebook profile created after their release of gender neutral toy aisles. While this can be amusing for readers, it is most likely not how Target would have chosen to respond to these complaints.
As the fake Target profile shows, if an imposter is good, or entertaining, they will likely garner more followers. As more consumers become duped, a snowballing effect will occur where more and more consumers, looking for your legitimate accounts, will believe that this fake account is real based solely on the amount of followers. While a website does, in some ways, gain a portion of its authority from traffic, other factors are considered such as URL authority, back linking, and the company’s own SEO efforts. URL authority is created by the length of time that you website has existed along with the associated traffic generated. This additional factor, time, makes it harder for imposters to organically show up in consumer searches. Likewise, a great deal of time would need to be put into both back linking (placing links to your website on other websites or on social media) and SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which many would-be imposters simply will not take the time to do.
3) Be able to specifically target geographic demographic areas.
While someone may take the time to search for you via social media, they are just as likely, if not more likely, to search for you on Google. Android phones come preloaded with Google Search as the default search option, and thus, consumers are always one click away from searching for your company – as long as you have a website. Through the use of SEO and PPC (Pay-Per-Click Advertising) you can take the additional step of reaching out to potential clients in areas that you want to target, even down to the exact zip code based on the things that they are looking for. While it is true that these type of marketing campaigns can be geared towards your social media profile, the amount of information readily shown to your target customers is significantly less, creating an extra step, and thus, a barrier, for them.
Likewise, Google Maps, once again a default option for Android based phones, is tied to your website. This can be detrimental to industries such as restaurants and retail stores, but it can be equally important to other companies where clients may be looking for your location to attend a meeting or potential suppliers looking to tour your facility.
4) Ability to run more than one marketing campaign.
Depending on the platform, social media allows you to create a marketing campaign with the click of a button – automatically adapting a post you have created into an advertisement that appears in the feeds of target customers. However, there is a major flaw in this process. While you can create as many posts, and therefore, as many advertisements, as you desire, they all go to a singular landing page which is essentially a summation of all of your various campaigns. This means that either you can have a cohesive voice and only run a single campaign or you can run multiple campaigns but suffer from a disjointed marketing voice. With the threat of imposters, it wouldn’t be advisable to create a different profile for each campaign – not only will they compete with each other but they may confuse customers as to if any are legitimate. Even if you buckle down and only run one campaign at a time on your single profile, you still risk losing those hard won conversions when you change campaigns.
Website based campaigns, on the other hand, can be directly targeted to a specific landing page. This means that you can have a different page for each campaign, custom tailored to that market, which allows you to not only run multiple campaigns at one time but also to continue that targeting long after your initial campaign has ended.
5) Don’t get lost in the noise.
One of the greatest things about social media is that everyone, theoretically, gets to market their company on a level playing field. However, this also means that anyone and everyone is vying for the attention of users and you can just fit so much eye-catching content into your social media profile. Some platforms limit you to a certain number of characters, other to a specific media form, but all limit you, in some fashion, in content or aesthetics. This means that, to some extent, all of the messages appear somewhat similar to consumers. One of the ways to help stand out is to produce your own unique content. Blogs, portfolios, and other forms of custom content are an easy ways to do this – but you need to have a place to house them. This is where your website comes in, giving you the freedom to create the content you need to get the customers you want.
6) Improve customer service.
While it seems counter intuitive, another side effect of social media content limitation is that is also limits the way that you can connect to your customers. Social media is an excellent portal, but it doesn’t necessarily give you the tools that you need for successful follow up and customer maintenance. On the front line, the only real time communication services available through social media are those that one must be logged in to use. It doesn’t make much sense to provide all of your customer service representatives, let alone all front line employees, access to your social media. Can you image all of those people with the ability to publicly post to your followers? However, with a website you are able to provide this real time support without having to give away such access. Services such as Zopim allow you create individual accounts to communicate with customers without granting any additional website access – limiting your employees to only what you want them to access.
What about when you want to follow up with your customers? Yes, you can follow up with your customers on social media – that’s what it was created for! But can you specifically target them? As we have already seen, the answer is no. Your posts are viewable to all of your followers. But a website allows you to capture the content information, along with demographics and other analytics, for your visitors which you can then turn into targeted mailing lists or other targeted, private, marketing campaigns. Nothing is more hated than spam and spamming can greatly hurt your brand image with customers, creating customer service issues, so make sure that your messages are only reaching those who find them valuable!
7) Bottom Line – Customers expect it.
Long gone are the days where a website is an add-on to a company’s marketing efforts. In fact, a modern, user friendly, website is a necessary part of company functions, let alone any marketing plan. Companies without websites are viewed as unestablished or out of touch with the current market, implying they are unable to satisfy customer needs in other areas as well. It also means that customers are searching for your website; if you don’t have the content they are looking for, not only have you missed a contact point, and thus an opportunity, but you have also failed to perform to basic standards.
Social media has forever changed the landscape of digital marketing and a well-managed, effective social media campaign is vital to business success. However, such a campaign simply cannot exist without a supporting website. Likewise, social media only represents half of the puzzle, don’t lose out on consumers and opportunities by not having a website. If you need help with creating a website or integrating your social media with your website, contact us today!