Last year there were a flurry of articles, think pieces and conversations over the death of the good-old traditional website.
Many suggested the digital home of businesses everywhere was now superfluous to requirements. That it was in someone’s sights and was about to be crossed off a hit list. But, admittedly, a lot of stuff was said in 2016 that turned out to be total guff. So was the death of the website greatly exaggerated too?
The tl;dr of this piece is: YES. But the landscape is certainly changing around businesses looking to reach and engage with customers.
Websites now have to compete for attention
The rise of social media has seen a tug-of-war with brand websites for customer attention. In late 2012 a survey indicated that about 50% of people thought a company’s Facebook page was more important than its website. That same survey also saw a massive 82% of respondents suggest that it was a great place to interact with the company, which indicates that communication with the business is an important customer requirement.
With customers increasingly more savvy and demanding, and with social media embedding itself in our lives even more since—a 2015 survey showed nearly 65% of adults now use social networking sites—it’s unsurprising to think people view the social company pages as the way forward over the more static and silent brand website.
So should you pull the plug on your domain?
Stop right there. Don’t touch it. It’s fine.
Because while social media platforms are transitioning into professional publishers, and making it very easy for businesses to set up shop, there are still many issues with throwing your lot in with them.
The problems with going social-only
For starters, we all still use Google when scoping out problems and looking for solutions. This means that those businesses who properly utilise SEO and content marketing are going to be the ones to pop up first, with links to the relevant pages or blog posts on their site. Facebook might be popular, but nobody actively searches for answers there unless they’ve already exhausted Google.
You also have to consider where your audience hangs out. Okay, if they spend a lot of time on Facebook then it would certainly be great to have your own FB page. But what if they predominantly spend time on Twitter? You can’t possibly get rid of your website and expect your little Twitter account to provide all the information your prospective customers need, no matter how many followers you get. Plus, what happens when the next new social media platform takes off and your audiences moves there—are you willing to start all over again?
One of the biggest issues with going social-only, however, is who owns the data. Your website is yours, as is all the data you collect through there (e.g. visitor numbers, website analytics, subscription details, etc). But if you merely rent company space on a social platform, then they own everything. Which means handing over control of a significant chunk of your company’s marketing. Not ideal.
Websites are still essential to your business
The increasing (and increasingly varied) use of social media to allow brands and customers to engage with each other is a wonderful thing. But it’s definitely not a reason to let your website expire.
Instead, you should continue to keep it at the heart of your marketing network—the central information hub to which all roads lead back.
Content marketing will make it available to those searching for solutions to their problems on Google, while sharing that content on social platforms will still allow you to reach and engage with those audiences without giving up control.
Meanwhile you’ll be free to expand your marketing onto all those new and exciting platforms that appear, if your audience—or your strategy—shifts focus.