Web Sites Should Not Be Replaced by Facebook Pages

I was approached earlier this week by reporter looking at the growing number of companies embracing Facebook Pages. As we did a back and forth Q&A via e-mail, I couldn’t help but get the impression the angle for the story was how the value or need for a Web site is disappearing.

It’s an interesting idea but it is not a path a company should pursue. There are many benefits to having a Facebook Page but it is not a replacement for a Web site. The biggest reason is a Facebook Page and Web site fill different roles. Together, they form a powerful one-two punch to distribute information and content, and serve target audiences in different ways.

Facebook Pages are sexy, dynamic and a platform to actively engage with consumers; Web sites are solid citizens that provide companies with consistency and a place to deliver information that likely wouldn’t see much reception from Facebook users.

Here’s the biggest reasons why Web sites still matter:

1. Companies don’t own their Facebook Pages. They create them and spend money to enhance and operate them, but at the end of the day, Facebook Pages are owned by Facebook. If Facebook wants to change the rules, the interface or the features, they can do it even if a company wants to keep its Facebook Page as is.

2. Web sites are corporate assets they manage and control. Regardless of what happens to Facebook or the whim of Mark Zuckerberg, a Web site serves the needs of a company and provides it with a way to serves it target audiences, not Facebook’s.

3. Web sites can also be social and sexy. There’s no reason why good design and the integration of social media can’t make a Web site more engaging and interesting. A Web site may not have the social appeal as Facebook but it can be a lot more than a place to see senior executive bios and financial reports.

4. A Web site is a content machine, particularly those that have blogs. One of the fundamental pillars of social media is being able to use different services to distribute content. This is where a Web site offers huge value as a resource companies can use to direct people to different content via social media.

5. Simply because Facebook has 600 million users doesn’t mean it will be around for ever or that it serves the needs of everyone. It’s highly unlikely but Facebook could fall out of favour. At the same time, there are Facebook users who may not want to look at corporate information on a Facebook Page. And there are people not on Facebook – as difficult as it may be to believe.

Bottom line: Facebook Pages are wonderful and useful but they complement a corporate Web site, not replace it.

For more thoughts on the Facebook Page vs. Web site issue, check out Stephen Shankland’s DeepTech column.

12 Comments on “Web Sites Should Not Be Replaced by Facebook Pages”

  1. This is the hot button issue of the last couple weeks. I wrote about it last week as did quite a few others.
    Perhaps with enough information, the “I don’t need a website because I have a Facebook page” argument will die.

  2. Facebook is great but it has its place in the overall marketing strategy. We are a photography studio and decided from very early on that our website is for the very defined purpose of showcasing professional work. Once we discovered Facebook as a voice to showcase our studio personality it became much easier to distinguish the different content. Facebook is a good medium to have conversations with potential clients, we would like to also create a blog based on more informational content. The trick will be to maintain the professional tone to create a distinction between the two sites.

  3. It’s not one size fits all. I get sick of going to “mom & pop” sites that haven’t been updated since 2003. If your primary business is technology then you need a site, if your primary business is selling doughnuts or your a small local business that depends on repeat customers then maybe only facebook is the right strategy for you. Facebook allows you to create content VERY easily (most websites don’t) and is free (at least for now) and as you updated it doesn’t require the user to revisit the site to see your updates.

  4. Thank you for a great post. I am so tired of all people who belive that Facebook is a holy gral for business and the only thing which matters. It’s time to wake up and start deliver at home space!

    Below 3 examples of online communities which we at Circuit has delivered to companies who all own and manage their space in contrast to their Facebook pages:

    http://www.WorldTrucker.com (Volvo Trucks)
    http://www.CommunityOfSweden.com (VisitSweden)
    http://StreamShare.StreamServe.com (StreamServe)

    Please feel free to connect with me at @iceman65
    (my Private Facebook Policy does not allow me to accept friend requests from people I don’t have met IRL)

  5. Of course every situation needs to be evaluated on the merits, as Phillip points out, but in general: research has shown that surfers young and old like to socialize when they socialize and ignore commercial messages. Conversely, when they are looking for something specific they head for Google and websites to do their research. If you want to be there with your product, you’re going to need a website.

  6. Totally agree with your points Mark. On our blog (http://www.ipressroom.com/pr/corporate/social-media.aspx) we recently wrote about this also, citing a study by Altimeter Group that found, “Website Integration” [with social media] to be the #1 Priority for Social Media Strategists.

    In Altimeter’s study, 140 Corporate Social Strategists were asked, “What external social strategy objectives will you focus most on in 2011? “Website Integration” was the #1 priority for 46.7% of respondents.

    According to Altimeter, “This is an important objective because social integration with your website allows readers to stay on your site longer. This also encourages social sharing and community in a location (your website) that you have more control over (versus external social channels like Facebook and Twitter).”

    With Website Integration such a major goal for corporate strategists, marketers and communications departments in 2011 – it follows very clearly that these same managers need control over their content – not occasionally but on a minute-to-minute basis. This content management is key if the program is going to reach the right people and convey the correct messages.

    So my view is, your content should be on your site first and foremost and THEN distributed to appropriate 3rd party channels (including Facebook).

    These other channels are in my view “neighborhoods” where your target audiences spend their time, but your website is your “home” and if you want people to come visit, tell others, share your content, link to you – all of that needs to be on your website, not somewhere else.

    Frankly, I think people are often using other 3rd party services because their own in-house capabilities are limited; i.e. they can’t post easily, they can’t add streaming video, audio, don’t have social media sharing capabilities, RSS feeds by categories, and direct distribution from their site to key channels such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and others.

  7. Kudos on a well-written, cogent, persuasive post on an important topic.

    Another important point is that many workplaces block Facebook. Therefore, a large number of people will never see information posted only on a Facebook page and think it very lame that you have posted it only there and not also on a Web site and mark you down as so obsessed with Facebook that you are ignoring their needs. Bad, bad marketing. If you absolutely have to have a Facebook page, please make sure you post vital information on a Web site as well so that those who cannot access Facebook or choose not to buy into the Facebook cult can also access your info. After all, ideally, you want to make your content as findable as possible and putting it only in Facebook is not the way to do that.

    Thanks again for a great post. I agree with Harry Chittenden in this, “If you want to be there with your product, you’re going to need a website.”

  8. Thank you for reiterating some of the facts that I have found difficult to believe in and hold on to myself. While I am seeing how our Facebook page is generating more discussions and interactions, through Likes and comments, I can’t help but wonder if this was only a phase. I sure hope it is!

    I miss those days when friends/readers/supporters would drop by our website and leave us encouraging comments on our blog posts, rather than just clicking the LIKE button and worse, giving us some half-hearted “Great job!” comment. LOL.

  9. I also agree with you that whatever be our busienss and whatever facilities facebook offer for our marketing need, a corporate website can not and will not replace Facebook page.

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