I’m going to set aside my conviction that Facebook is evil. It’s alright to have a Facebook page. It is after all free, or nearly so. You may even benefit from it. But do not make the mistake of being lured into thinking it is a replacement for your website.
It is an appealing notion, like easy money on the Internet. But you wouldn’t build your house on someone else’s land, not even if they said you could use it for free. You might put up a tent. When you start to consider where to build your Internet brand, give some thought to it before you make some big mistakes.
There are dozens of reasons a Facebook page does not take the place of your website. Here are seven significant ones:
- You Don’t Own It. Facebook owns your Facebook page. They can shut it down without warning. They can change the way it is displayed without notification. If they accuse you of violating their rules you do not get “your day in court” and there is not another Facebook to do business with in protest. Putting all of your eggs in one basket is not good practice, especially if you do not own the basket.
- It’s Not Your Domain Name – Your Domain Name is part of your brand. It should be an address on the Internet where people can find you. It should be on your business card and on the signature line of your email. When you use your Facebook URL, you advertise that you are using space for your business for free. It gives the impression that you are cheap and possibly a “fly-by-night” operator.
- You Don’t Control It – Besides not owning the space, you don’t control it. You may spend many hours and/or hundreds of dollars customizing your page only to have the design wiped out by a Facebook change the next day. You can only put images where they let you. You can only reference your videos as they like. You have precious little control over how your Facebook page looks or acts. Your Internet presence should reflect your brand, not Facebook’s.
- Lack of Functionality – Your own website gives you the ability to collect email addresses of potential customers interested in your product or service. You can create a questionnaire or survey for free on Google Docs and embed that in your website (contact us if you want to know how). You can schedule when information is posted. You can create different content for different customers. And you can sell your products or services straight off of your website. You can’t do these things with a Facebook page. Even if you do not want to do any of those things at present, do you think it is wise to build your brand on a platform where you will never be allowed the flexibility of function you need?
- No Analytics – With (free) Google Analytics or Statcounter, you can see how people are interacting with your website. You can see what information they are drawn toward and how long they consider it. You can see where they are not interested to limit your investment toward advertising those benefits and features. You can see what time of day your customers are considering your particular offering to coordinate your social media activity to those times. Your website can give you reams of information Facebook will not.
- Unreliable Message Distribution – When you post an update on Facebook it is Facebook who decides who will get that message. When you announce a new sale in your status update most of your Facebook friends or fans may never see it. You have no control over who gets that message. It is okay to update your Facebook status. It’s not okay to base your business on it.
- Limited Network – If you have been following the news about Facebook you have seen it has almost stopped growing in the United States. Anecdotes are flying about people abandoning Facebook for a variety of reasons. Facebook is losing it’s new shiny luster and there is some question whether a social network where people go for fun was ever appropriate as a business network. And the bottom line is the millions of people who are not active on Facebook will not see your Facebook page.
Again, I’m not saying you should not have a Facebook page. If you are in business (and you are whether you realize it or not) you should have a Facebook page. Just don’t put the heart and soul of your online presence into something owned and controlled by someone else.
Social media has it’s place. LinkedIn is a business network and if you are in business you definitely should be involved with it. Twitter has it’s uses. But however tempting it is to use a web page you don’t own or fully control as the basis for your Internet presence it is not a good idea. Build your website and then link your social media to it.