As an agency, you know that great web design can take a business to the next level. And if an SMB is serious about establishing a fantastic, conversion-driving online presence, it’s going to take a lot more than “likes.” A Facebook page might be a helpful nice-to-have for an SMB wanting to reach an audience, but it won’t do enough to help turn it into a reputable, respectable brand. To do that kind of heavy lifting, a website is needed for many reasons, as we’ll discuss in this blog.
REASON #1: A FACEBOOK PAGE IS A TOOL, NOT A SITE
A Facebook page does have its good points. It’s free, easy to set up, and with a monthly active user base of over 2 billion, the social media behemoth provides business owners with the opportunity to attract numerous leads. Facebook also provides a nice way for SMBs to engage with customers. There, they can answer questions, promote blog posts, post photos and keep customers abreast of the latest-greatest offerings that it might have. Trouble is, anything posted on a Facebook page is time-sensitive. With each new post that is created, the previous post gets pushed further down the page’s timeline until it’s no longer visible. To find it again, visitors will have to do some serious scrolling. There’s no effective way to retrieve important information, and all you get in terms of search options is the standard search box that appears at the top of every page. Also, there’s no way to keep posts static, except for one post that can be pinned to the top of the page’s timeline for easy access. Not bad, if a business has only one important thing to say.
REASON #2: A FACEBOOK PAGE HAS LIMITED SEO
Speaking of searching, a Facebook page offers very little in terms of SEO other than simply being discoverable through search engines. Since all Facebook pages follow the same template, there’s virtually nothing that can be done to tailor content and keywords for better discoverability (especially from organic searches). And even if there were a way to optimize SEO on Facebook, visitors would still need to have an account to log in, access and interact with the page beyond what you see on a SERP.
In terms of design, the options are extremely limited on a Facebook page. All a business can do is park its important info and a few design elements such as pictures and logos in their designated spots. Don’t forget to make sure that the image file type, size and dimensions meet Facebook’s requirements and community guidelines, which are subject to change. This brings us to our next reason.
REASON #3: FACEBOOK PAGES BELONG TO FACEBOOK
With its updates to its Business Pages, Facebook is on its way to establishing itself as a micro-web of sorts (whether they intend to or not), where any business (and customer) can occupy a space, seemingly free of charge. And while no money might be involved, there is a price: anything created on Facebook belongs to Facebook first. Whoever set up the page or profile merely rents it.
Sure, a business owner might have access to solid marketing and analytics tools along with some creative say in what goes on the business page, but ultimately what Facebook says, goes. The page is still subject to all rules, regulations and most-importantly algorithms that Facebook uses at its discretion. Consequently, no reward can be guaranteed for any efforts made to boost engagement. All a ‘like’ on a Facebook page means is that a user is interested in the page’s content. That’s it. They still have to engage with the page on a regular basis, or Facebook’s algorithm will remove its posts from their timelines.
REASON #4: SITES BELONG TO BUSINESSES
A website, on the other hand, belongs to the business that has claimed it. It is square one; the raw material over which a designer has full, limitless creative control. You’re free to mold and shape it from scratch to meet your client’s needs, with little to no restrictions.
On a website, the business comes first. Thus, anything is done with it, and any tool used on it, will be for the benefit of the business first. For every business-boosting tool (eCommerce, Marketing, Analytics) that Facebook might offer on its platform, there is a better, more-robust real-world counterpart that can easily be used for an SMB site. In fact, many agencies use these tools to offer niche services such as marketing, SEO and even social media packages to SMBs. Hard to get that with just a Facebook page.
Say your client has special marketing materials that they would like to make available for download; they’ll need a website for that. If your client tries to do it on their Facebook page, all they’ll be able to do is create a post telling their audience where to find the special materials on their sites. There is no place on Facebook to actually house them for direct download.
REASON #5 WEBSITES POWER BRANDS
What can a site tell us about your client? Everything they want us to know about them. Not just who they are, but also the where, when and why of their businesses –– in whichever way they want to tell you. On a Facebook page, business info is relegated to the design equivalent of assigned seating. And if an SMB wants to deviate from the rigid template that Facebook currently offers, it can, at best, get creative with images. For example, they could upload a banner with some creative copy in it as a background image. There’s no way to modify the page’s template.
With a website, there are no seating assignments for your design elements. You and your client make the rules. Every component, from business info to maps and customer testimonials, can strategically be placed (and rearranged, if something doesn’t work) for the best possible UX. As a result, your clients will reap the maximum benefit from visitor interaction, rather than just leaving things up to chance or curiosity –– as one is forced to do on a Facebook page.
REASON #7: WEBSITES SHOW EXPERIENCES
Your clients deliver more than just products and services to their customers; they also create an experience with their brand. Which of these resonates more with you: a “home-repair service that does quick, good work,” or a “family-run business that always goes above and beyond the expectations of its customers; where the employees always greet you with a smile and you can rest assured that no one will ever cut corners with their services?” Customer experience is what turns a business into a brand and distinguishes it from similar service providers.
Yelp reviews are a powerful way to build a reputation for your business and generate interest. That’s why a business owner might be tempted to just park their info on a Facebook page and let Yelp do most of the work. But a stellar website can be the converting factor for many potential customers (especially those who expect all businesses to have websites). A website helps SMBs capitalize on Yelp reviews by effectively showing people why they’re receiving such acclaim. Can you put fancy images, text, and videos on a Facebook page? Yes, but without the full creative power to show what a terrific experience it delivers, an SMB runs the risk of under representing itself.