Are Facebook Pages Killing the Corporate Web Site?

On the weekend, I was watching the National Football League playoff game between the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts. Aside from the action on the field, one thing that caught my attention was a commercial from Sears that ended with a suggestion that people visit Sears’ Facebook Page rather than sears.com.

The promotion of a corporate Facebook Page is not new but seeing a high-profile company put the spotlight on Facebook rather than its corporate Web site was, nevertheless, interesting.

It wasn’t that long ago that having a Web site was the core of a company’s digital presence. And while Web sites are still important and essential, Facebook has changed the digital dynamic.

The focus on the Facebook Page, particularly for consumer-facing companies, makes sense because Facebook Pages are dynamic and offer a variety of ways to engage with consumers. Meanwhile, Web sites are fairly static and provide information as opposed to content that can be consumed and shared.

The dynamic/static landscape has encouraged many companies to use their Web site and Facebook Page as a one-two digital punch. The Web site is the corporate workhorse, while the Facebook Page is sleek and sexy. Both are valuable but have different roles.

The key question is whether the growing love affair with Facebook Pages will damage the role of corporate Web sites. If companies become so enamoured with Facebook Pages as a way to engage with consumers, you have to wonder if it have a negative impact on their Web sites, which could be seen as less important.

Perhaps the biggest danger that companies face with Facebook Pages is they manage but don’t own them. When a key corporate asset isn’t owned, it could leave a company vulnerable to changes made by Facebook.

A few months ago, for example, Facebook stopped letting companies customize the left-hand sidebar of their Facebook Pages. With little notice, the features and functionality that companies had spent time and money to create suddenly disappeared.

This provides a lesson to companies that while a Facebook Page can offer a lot of value, there are risks. To mitigate these risks, companies should ensure their Web sites are kept vibrant and fresh, including the integration of social media services such as Facebook.

In other words, companies should love their Web sites as much as their Facebook Pages.

27 Comments on “Are Facebook Pages Killing the Corporate Web Site?”

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  2. It would be nice to see some data about this. Facebook is all about customer engagement but as you suggest the company doesn’t own and control Facebook as it does the web site. Or maybe it’s just the simple fact that companies already engage with customers by phone and eamil, why not use other tools where the costs are being borne by “someone else.”

  3. A call to action promoting a digital presence other than the brand’s corporate website it’s all that new or noteworthy. It wasn’t that long ago that brands were using their MySpace pages at calls to action. Lately, in addition to Facebook, I’ve seen brands feature their Twitter accounts and YouTube channels.

    The brand website isn’t going away anytime soon, they will just be used for different purposes. Forward-thinking brands will use their brand.com as a communications hub, aggregating content from a variety of social channels

  4. It seems brads are now doing half the work for facebook, Manchester Untied football club were advertising their facebook page pitchside yesterday, prompting more people to fb than their own site. Caution: Facebook might want to charge for your page, then we’d be in trouble!

  5. The bigger lesson is to never get too comfortable with any platform.
    They will change, fade, or be rapidly replaced by the next shiny object.

    The challenge is deciding which platforms to maintain and how much time and money to invest in each of them in times of rapid change and uncertainty.

    I’ve seen several platforms that I had discounted make improvements to come back from the dead, while other popular ones have dropped off the radar completely.

    The corporate Web site will need to evolve to remain relevant.

  6. Slowly but surely yes. It’s all about incorporating Facebook, Twitter and various other social media channels onto your website. Social Media plays quite a big role in Google’s rankings as well where it never used to – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofhwPC-5Ub4

    I predict that we will see quite a few changes on Google in the next couple of months regarding social media.

  7. I know what you mean about focusing too much on a Facebook page. We have dealt with clients who put so much of their energies into their Facebook that the main website falls wayside – not good.

  8. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. And my conclusion would have to be no. Because they serve different purposes and are found in much different ways.

    The Facebook page helps Sears, and whoever else, create a sense of community around their brand. It easily allows for a two way communication as well as cross talk amongst fans. But it is only found on the Facebook platform.

    The corporate website is, at least in the foreseeable future, going to be relevant. Someone who is looking for tools or electronics or whatever is not going to go to Facebook and search “socket wrench set.” But rather they are heading to Google or Bing. Ultimately finding sears.com. And until Facebook can figure out a way to SEO their entire structure of pages. This will always be the case.

    Great post!

  9. The prompt to visit a company’s static website isn’t really needed. It’s assumed that a company of a certain size can be found easily online.

    FB is still not as ubiquitous… so a ‘call to action’ or simply letting folk know that their company is indeed on FB makes sense and certainly isn’t about replacing corporate websites.

    As ‘Scott’ has mentioned, the static website will likely remain a ‘hub’ of various and evolving social media networks for some time and for most businesses.

  10. YouTube was being used way before twitter or Facebook. yeah all these social sites **could** be an alternative to a “brand website” for a small local biz. As to the brand promoting facebook offline… ummm pretty sure most peeps know the url of Sears since it is Sears.com. People know a little less about how to navigate to facebook pages w/o a link or prompt.

  11. Never assume, Jill. When a company’s website is listed on the first page of Google results and the Facebook page is nowhere to be found, but the website is outdated compared to the Facebook page, that’s a problem.

  12. I think there are a couple of issues here:

    1) I think many companies are listing their Facebook pages or saying “find us on Facebook” as a way of trying to stay relevant. Perhaps someone in marketing said “drive people to Facebook… that will make us look cooler to the younger generation!” In reality, I wonder how many people actually get up off the couch or grab their iPads and go find the brand on Facebook.

    2) I agree with the point that was made about showing more love to the corporate website. Let’s be honest… most corporate websites are boring. If more effort was made to make the corporate website useful, interesting, and engaging, then it would become more relevant.

  13. Agree with: “a Facebook Page can offer a lot of value, there are risks. To mitigate these risks, companies should ensure their Web sites are kept vibrant and fresh, including the integration of social media services such as Facebook.”

    Your corporate or organizational website is your “home” and if you want people to come and visit, tell others to come visit and share links and content – keep your house in order.

    Facebook, Twitter and other sites are simply other “neighborhoods” where people spend their time. Focus on creating F.A.R.E content (Frequent, Authentic, Relevant and Engaging), post to your corporate and organizational website in all the forms and formats people expect today (text, images, video, micro-blog posts, infographics, audio, etc.) and then distribute that content in the places where your key audiences spend their time, encourage them to share, discuss and link back to you. All roads should lead back to your home.

  14. Pingback: Are Facebook Pages Killing the Corporate Web Site? – Blog of Leonid Mamchenkov

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  16. Like other commenters, I think companies should pay more attention to their website by making them a hub for all things social. The FB page, and other sites should be the offshoots of that page. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t put attention to their FB page; that would just be a detriment, especially to a company the size of Sears.

    Was this the first commercial where the Facebook page was the focus? It was certainly the first I’ve seen.

    Sean
    (@InSeansOpinion)

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  18. This is an interesting topic…however I think suggesting the corporate website will eventually fade away and brands will only use FB is a little extreme. The one thing this blog article brings up which is really valuable is that corporate webpages historically haven’t been engaging or social, and that the new consumer and space of media wants social and dynamic. I think if anything brands should take a hint from the FB experience and values of social and bring it back to the other properties they manage and include their brand on/in.

  19. I dont think this would happen. The information you can give out through a website in comparison to a Facebook page has a massive difference.

    There has been a dramatic shift in the way we interact with companies. The good thing about FB pages is that it allows customer engagement and customers will tend to spend more time on a FB page then a website. Websites have been encouraging customers to spend longer on a website by implementing interactive features but this is still not enough engagement for us. Companies should think about integrating both together as I believe they compliment each other. But it will be interesting to see how the FB pages develop over time.

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