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.