In the early days of Facebook, I remember having a few conversations with people who wondered if the platform could one day be used as a website replacement. After all, Facebook Pages have enabled organizations of all sizes to easily connect with their audience.
The argument made sense on some levels. Facebook pages were free – not so many websites. Why pay for a potentially complicated marketing vehicle when there was a simple, inexpensive option? This was a very good path for small businesses.
As you might have guessed, that hope was dashed rather quickly. Facebook started charging for the ability to reach your entire audience. It was also becoming increasingly difficult to stand out in the user’s chaotic social feed.
Now, let’s fast forward today. Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter (and subsequent headline actions) is causing concern among users. Content moderation has taken a backseat to the billionaire’s vision of what the platform should be. It’s worth thinking about how this will affect the ability to connect and connect with people.
With that in mind, it seems like a good time to reinforce the important role that websites play. Here are a few reasons why they are still the best bet for anyone with a message to share.
A Permanent Home For Your Content
Social media still offers a great way to promote your content. But your content shouldn’t alive on Facebook or Twitter. Instead, social posts should direct readers towards your website.
Exclusive housing content on social media is a risk. Changes in platform ownership or policies may negatively impact what you’ve built. And if you decide to leave a particular service, how are you going to take everything with you?
Websites act as a repository of content. That’s exactly what content management systems (CMS) like WordPress are meant to do.
News, blog posts and multimedia can be added, edited or removed at any time. Most social networks do not make these processes easy. Finding a particular tweet you failed to bookmark is like finding a virtual needle in a haystack.
Most importantly, you will retain ownership of your content. This means you are not subject to the whims of a third party service provider. And you can keep it as long as you want.
The Focus Is On You
Users have a very short attention span. Add to that the large number of posts in a typical user’s timeline and the popularity of scrolling doom. This makes social media a difficult place to influence. All but your most loyal followers will struggle to see your message.
At the very least, a well-made website will take those last two items out of the equation. Caring for users is still a challenge. But you’ll have a fighting chance when compared to the improved free-for-all algorithm on the likes of Facebook.
A website can provide visitors with a clear path to action. It gives them space and time to explore content. And it serves as a reference that can be easily accessed later.
You are not limited by the character count, nor will you have to compete with thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of other posts on a feed. For one luminous moment, you are focused without any distractions.
It’s an opportunity that most social media platforms can’t offer. In addition, you are in full control of the user experience.
Websites Can Live Anywhere
Companies can come and go without a moment’s notice. Others may fall out of favor (I see you, MySpace). It is something that could affect social media and website providers.
The big difference is that a website offers options. Even if your DIY website tool went belly up, you could still rebuild it elsewhere. And an open source CMS gives you the flexibility to host anywhere.
If your social media network of choice went out of business, you’d probably be left out in the cold. Your data may or may not be accessible. And what use would you make of it, anyway? It’s not like you can just import your tweets into LinkedIn and keep moving forward.
In addition, if you are not happy with your current location, you can make changes. Hosting, CMS, look, content, and underlying technologies are all fair game. If you have enough budget, almost every part can be customized to suit your needs.
Keep in mind the Roles of Social Media and Websites
For a brief moment in history, the lines between social media and websites could have been blurred. Some saw that the former could be a primary messaging tool. But as social media has grown and become more controversial, the divide between the two has become clear.
Sure, many web designers may have understood this concept from the beginning. But clients are not always aware of what makes a website essential and unique.
They may have been influenced by the thrill of posting content wherever they get the most “likes” and comments. Therefore, they may not have considered what happens when a platform disappears or is no longer an attractive option.
If you help clients with their marketing and content strategy, this conversation may be worth having. Help them understand the role social media can play in their success. But also look at the limitations and risks involved.
Conversely, there are benefits to using your website as a content driver. This is a solution that can stand the test of time – no matter what happens on social media.