Trust us when we say we know how hard it is to be a small business owner. You’ve got employees and permits to pay for, and you constantly have to look above your shoulder to see where the next business opportunity will pop up. It all sounds too much, but if you’re really inclined to be the entrepreneurial type, you might find that grind exhilarating. And for the longest time, brands and business owners have this platform to rely on to promote their products and services: Facebook.
And to be fair to Facebook, it is extremely reliable: resources for advertising and marketing were diverted elsewhere because of the fact that it’s basically free to promote anything on Facebook. Plus, majority of customers have profiles on Facebook! So, what’s the worry?
Well, there is this one little thing called “privacy”.
Ever since the beginning of this year, Facebook has been in hot water over leaks claiming how they were selling user data to companies without their users’ permission. That’s not even the least of the charges the platform was accused of: critics even say it was used to influence the results of popular elections in several countries. It sounds like something that Aldous Huxley or George Orwell might have imagined in their most feverish dreams during their heydays. Creepy.
While we don’t discount the fact that Facebook is an essential tool for brands and businesses everywhere, the recent changes the social media giant implemented — which even included deliberately decreasing the organic reach of business pages everywhere (and which we’ve also discussed in our previous Medium post) — means there’s no getting around to this one vital fact: your business won’t market itself if it just relies on Facebook. You really need to have your own platform now.
In short, you need a website.
We’re not just stating it, of course. In fact, we can even tell you why! We’ve outlined the important information below, so read on!
1. A website increases your online visibility
Despite what you might think, the internet isn’t just located on Facebook. For all intents and purposes, it’s still a wide world and, for the longest time, has also been associated with one other entity: Google.
In the wilder days of the internet before the mainstream adoption of social networks, businesses were killing themselves just to rank on Google’s first page. Competition was so cutthroat that some “black-hat” specialists took to gaming Search Engine Optimization (SEO) results by stuffing their pages with loads of keywords, even if they don’t make a lick of sense. Eventually, Google took a more active approach to regulating these websites’ activities by prioritizing pages with quality content more than keywords.
While Google is notoriously reticent to outright say what makes a website rank high, a study suggests what kind of website Google tends to favor more: it should have an intuitive design, and it also should translate well to all devices. Couple that with content that can hook people’s attention, and you’ll have a platform that users will keep going back to.
And really, do we even have to mention that a business just looks more professional if it has a website? Yep, we can tell you thought of it, too.
2. A website can be anything you want it to be
This, if anything, has been a website’s most unique selling proposition ever since the internet as we knew it began. While a website is still rightfully thought of as a repository of information, it evolved to become different things to suit different purposes: as a journal (which was how blogs started), as a portfolio (if you happen to work in any self-sustaining industry), or as a platform that can be used for buying or selling.
Get that money.
“E-commerce”, in particular, has become a thing precisely because of the sophistication of websites these days. Many are now designed to be used by even the most technologically-illiterate person in this planet. And if you’re running a business, you know that that’s an opportunity you just can’t pass up.
In any case, a website is a platform where you can control your publicity these days. Because while there’s no such thing as bad publicity, you’d always want to have a degree of control over it!
3. A website is where you can build autonomy and trust with your customers
Think about how far we’ve come in terms of our online habits: thanks to the online platforms we’re using, every necessary information about us can be harvested via the internet now . Still, that doesn’t mean we have to be comfortable with our data being shared without our knowledge. Because, as what we’ve seen in numerous instances online, our trust in the platforms we’re using can be used to manipulate us.
As a business owner, you have to earn your customers’ trust, and not to manipulate it.
If you’re a business owner or running a brand, trust is the first currency you can get from a customer; obviously, it’s also the hardest one to obtain. But once you do, you’ll open up to dozens of opportunities, which you cannot otherwise get if you haven’t obtained that trust.
You know, like a pinkie swear.
This is also important if you’re running a business, too: you want to do things your own way. And Facebook, as much as it has been useful to small businesses everywhere, still has its own standards for brands who want to operate through its platform. The worst-case scenario is if Facebook shuts down and all your collateral and media goes down along with it. Of course, you want a say on how your material gets used, right?
œThe fact that the European Union is now implementing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a sign that privacy is now being taken seriously in light of all the major security lapses that happened in the online world during the past couple of years. So, not only can your website show to your customers that your platform is GDPR-compliant, you can also signal to them that you value their trust.
You would never have thought that “control” and “trust” is something that can be pegged as positive traits for a website, but there it is!
Of course, Facebook — and other social media platforms, for that matter — are still important in today’s connected world, but like with most things, those are merely tools that can supplement your business; useful for many instances, but not something that you would have to completely rely on. You know, kinda like real-life itself!