Why Web Design is More Important Than Social Media
Social media cannot replace websites
I’ve written quite a bit about how critical social media platforms are for engaging existing and potential customers. I certainly haven't changed my mind. But all too often I see businesses adopt a social-media-centric strategy.
Bad Idea. In terms of social media vs. websites:
- Social media absolutely cannot replace or function as surrogate websites
It’s a terrible fallacy that I see businesses practice rather often. Despite the fact that your customers may use both a business’s website and social media account they each function very differently for customers – more on this below.
Businesses that try to replace a quality website with social media usually do one of the following:
- Business doesn’t have website at all, and focuses only on social media pages
- Business has a web domain that auto redirects to social media pages
- Business has a dated website – both in terms of content and design – that is for all intents and purposes useless
It boils down to fact that:
Social media is renting, a website is owning
I can't stress how impotant digital ownership is. Just look at the major tech companies - Google, Facebook, Apple, etc - who are putting forth leviathon efforts to gobble up and own data.
When you have a website/app, you own everything about it:
- Style and presentation
- Data and privacy
- Relationships with customers
- Access to analytics
You own everything. You answer to no one. The sky is your limit. And so on.
To put it simply. Having your own website/app means freedom.
Social Media platforms are renting platforms. Your online presence here has many of the limitations that digital ownership does not:
- Your relationships are not owned by you
- Style and presentation are severely limited
- You have no data privacy
- The content you post has restrictions
On social media, the platform controls your every ounce of access you have. Both in terms of your ability to even use the platform, as well as your organic reach.
A good way to look at it is like this:
Social media presence is your business in a zoo exhibit
Which, as I’ve spoken in great detail about, has wonderful uses. People can see you. See what you’re doing. Watch your behaviour. Likewise you can do the same with them.
That’s exactly what’s it’s great for and how social media should be used, for you and customers to see each other and keep track of each other
But like being in a zoo, you have limited visibility – you’re stuck in one place.
And Social Media is crowded, for example, the average person has about 330 friends on Facebook. That’s a lot of competition and data flowing through someone’s Facebook feed.
It also probably explains why organic reach for brands on Facebook has fallen to an all-time low of 2.6% as of this spring. Or Youtube, where the average posted video has just 2k views.
Organic reach is best accomplished through SEO practices, which a significantly higher potential for reaching customers, especially considering almost all customers find businesses through search engines rather than social media.
Web design should be made for “doing”
“Doing” can mean one of two things.
- When customers want to use a business’s product and/or services, they will make purchasing decisions via a website or an app
- When new customers are interested in using a business’s product or services they will usually use a website to contact that business
In either case, when it comes to the actual purchasing, or the steps leading up to making a purchasing decision, users expect all of that to happen on a website.
Think of your own buying habits. When directly engaging in transactions with a business, do you do so through their web/app channels, or through social media?
I think most people probably intuitively understand this. So the questions is, why does any business only “rent.” Easy answer:
Owning is harder than renting
There are pros and cons of owning. But as any owner knows, owning a – house, car, business – requires much more energy than renting because owning:
- Takes more time and effort
- Is more complex
- Requires ongoing maintenance
Business’s who have a policy of renting would rather not invest the time and effort into creating a quality website, mobile website, and/or app.
Just renting via social media is a lot easier.
And it’s also a bad idea. Business’s who have a rent-only policy will see severely stunted growth, cash flow, new customer traffic, and so on, versus business’s who do both. The:
Best practice is owning and renting
Because customers use websites and social media differently in their relationship with a business, it’s a best practice to use both.
Let your customers and your business keep tabs on each other with social media. Use web/mobile sites and apps to establish your business’s flavor and drive new traffic.
But start with owning.
Define your style and presentation, the type of content you present, the flavor of your business, and carry that over to your rental spaces.