“Your business needs a website.” You’ve heard that before.
A website has been the backbone behind a business’s digital marketing strategy for a couple of years now (or decades, depending on who you talk to), serving as the hub to showcase your products or services, emphasize your value propositions, and tell your company’s story. Without it, some experts don’t think your business will get off the ground.
But times continue to change, and so do the means to successfully market your company. Organic web traffic is more competitive than ever as paid media continues to strengthen, and with the cost of producing an SEO-rich, high-converting website, the resources needed to create and maintain one can be too much for local businesses that are just starting out. Even though a small business or startup’s primary goal is to generate leads and sell products or services, I believe a website may not be the most cost-effective solution.
Should you forego a website entirely? I’ll let you determine your best long-term strategy, but consider another viable and extremely cost-effective (read: free) option for getting your business off the ground: social media.
The Future Is Social
Social media is everywhere. Its influence continues to sweep the globe year after year, with roughly 3.484 billion users actively using social media in 2019. And most notably, Facebook continues its dominance as the most-used platform among consumers.
The social network’s rise is no surprise, either. In 2019, Facebook had 2.4 billion monthly active users (MAU) and was Google’s third-most visited website, only outranked by YouTube and Google itself (it’s now, at the time of publishing, ranked fourth). As one of the top Google search queries, Facebook remains a key destination to get eyes on your business and its products.
And unless your target audience receives Social Security benefits, your consumer is probably using Facebook. Last year, 71% of American adults used the platform — one of the highest penetration rates of any social network.
But Facebook isn’t the only social Goliath out there catering to marketers; Instagram has also left its mark in the social ecosystem as the second-most used social media platform. In 2018, research showed that Instagram users on Androids spent 53 minutes on the platform per day, nearly as much as Facebook users on Androids (58 minutes).
No matter the business vertical, both Facebook and Instagram welcome your business presence with open arms.
Establishing Social Credibility That Lasts
Facebook is a crowded network. But with business and analytics tools at your disposal that rival those of Google itself, the social network is empowering local businesses with resources to effectively market their brands and tell their stories.
First, start off with creating a Facebook business page. Business pages are templatized based on the vertical your business serves. Each business page creation comes with content and promotional tools that can set your brand apart from its competitors, including offers, events, services and even job postings. Additionally, the network also offers business verification that helps establish your brand in a reputable light.
This comes in handy when trying to market your product. With 800 million monthly active users since last year, the Facebook Marketplace has seen tremendous growth since its introduction in 2016. With optimization and advertising settings at the ready, the Marketplace is key to advertising your product and hitting the ground running.
But if you don’t have a presence to match the effort you place into selling your products, your brand will never break the ceiling to reach your target audience. You need to craft engaging content in a frequent manner, coupled with the advertising capabilities offered by the platform’s ad services. You may also want to consider connecting your Facebook and Instagram accounts to tell your story in a unique manner.
Skip The Setup And Socialize
The maintenance and time spent running a website can be daunting for businesses that are just starting out. It can even be worse if you’re creating a custom-tailored site to fit your business’s needs. Instead, skip the hassle of hiring a developer and build out your social pages instead.
With different ways to present your brand using Facebook’s business pages, consumers can get a bite-sized overview of your company in seconds without having to navigate through multiple pages. Once you’re set up, you can publish content immediately to Facebook’s news feed, optimize it as needed and strategically reach out to the target audience that matters. Using keywords that are relevant to your business helps, too: Facebook’s internal search tool is the fourth-most popular search engine, following only Google, YouTube and Amazon, since all public posts are indexed and available for search. The platform also gives businesses the capability to connect to a customer relationship management (CRM) tool like Salesforce or HubSpot, making it easy to track the leads you establish from Facebook.
With Facebook serving as a hub for interconnectivity, you can connect the services you frequent most in building your brand so you can focus on what matters: engaging with your consumers.
If your business is just starting out, ask what you can do on a website that you can’t already do on social platforms like Facebook or Instagram. If the list is small, you already know where to start.
Finding Success In Social
When a small business owner serves as the CEO, CFO and CMO, doing all things effectively and affordably can become burdensome and costly. However, if small businesses don’t incorporate a digital presence in some capacity, they’ll find a much harder time getting off the ground.
But if a full-fledged website isn’t in the cards, consider investing a small amount of time and effort into developing a social-centric approach for your business. With an established social presence, a good CRM and optimized local listings, they will check all of their business’s boxes at a fraction of the cost.