When you’re setting up in business or selling a new product or service Social Media is always a good idea for making people aware of you and what you’re offering. In fact a lot of people will tell you ‘just get started! Setup a Facebook page or Instagram account and worry about a website later on’.
During the height of Social Media dominance this advice worked for a lot of people. However, whilst it got people started and they did indeed sell their products or services, it wasn’t the best advice. Here’s why:
Let’s look at what’s good about Social Media
(and why it should be a part of your marketing strategy).
Your audience are already there – With a slightly different audience on each platform you’re covering all bases.
It’s social – people can comment on and share your posts where other people can see it.
It’s conversational – people can have a conversation on/below your posts, in real time, in a way they can’t on your website.
There’s Social Proof – if you’re not sure what this is think of it as the marketing form of peer pressure where people are persuaded to get involved/join/buy something because their friends are publicly doing it.
There’s structure and boundaries – you know where you’re at with how to produce content as each platform has a set way it displays it.
Now let’s look at what’s not so great about Social Media.
A load of people who aren’t your audience are also there – if they see your posts, ignore and don’t engage with them, this will work against you as the Social platforms algorithms will decide your content’s not good and not worth putting into peoples’ feeds.
It’s social – people can comment on and review your posts and products with negative feedback.
It’s conversational – you have very little control over what people comment on your posts and it can be difficult if arguments spiral out of control on one of your posts.
There’s Social Proof – people can end up liking and following your account/page because their friends do when they’re not interested in your product – this can lead to them not engaging and then your social channels stop showing your posts to anyone.
There’s structure and boundaries – you’re not free to post absolutely anything you want, you can’t always display content in the way that best suits you/your product. People can report your content and it can be taken down.
This is where Social Media can be a double edged sword.
All the good points are what makes it bad and all the bad points can be what makes it good. Confused yet? You should be. Getting Social Media marketing right is not just a case of posting every day and responding to whoever comments on the posts.
This is where your website comes in and why it should be the number 1 part of your marketing strategy.
You own your website.
Yep, that’s right – you own it, it’s yours and the one and only person who can set the rules is you. This means you get to:
Post what you like.
Post it when you want to, rather than waiting for an ‘optimum time’.
There are no character limits, make posts as long or as short as you like (although if you want it to rank on Google it needs to be a minimum of 300 words).
No pesky hashtags. Or bans if you accidentally use the wrong hashtag.
Your branding, your layout, your way
Does it ever drive you mad the way every Social Media platform has different requirements for images/length of text/video? That you can’t use backgrounds and if things aren’t perfect details get cut off/missed?
Your website will be fully branded to you. You get to choose every detail on it, where things go, what you write, you can align it completely with your brand and you don’t have to worry at all whether it fits in with Instagram’s squares or LinkedIn’s post sizing. You get complete freedom with what content you put on your website and how you choose to display it.
The algorithms are different
Search engines and Social Media platforms all use algorithms. These are essential for them to ensure they’re pulling the best, most relevant content in response to search requests. With Social Media they’ll go one step further and have a ‘recommended’ section for their users. It would be nice to say it’s because they care about you getting the right content when you’re searching. The truth is that it all comes down to money. The more accurate they are with their search results and by that I mean delivering relevant search results which the user engages with, the more they can charge the paid for advertisers on the basis that their search results are super accurate.
Social Media channels have very aggressive algorithms which assess each piece of content you post, at what time of day, whether your images are set for that particular platform or a one-size-fits-all image which jarrs across platforms. The algorithms review who is on your followers list, how likely they are to engage, what hashtags you are using, etc. This means trying to beat the algorithms without having to pay for it can feel like a full time job.
Google (and other search engines) don’t do this. They don’t care what time of day you post. Image size and settings do matter although not in the same way as for Social Media algorithms. Your website has a lot more flexibility than your Social Media channels.
Want to mix up your look? Go ahead!
The longer you’re in business the more you’ll want to refresh/mix up your look. What suits you as a start-up won’t necessary still fit when you’re a growing business. Along the way you’ll also become aware of others’ branding and it will make you rethink your own.
Changing your branding on your website should be a well thought out process but relatively easy to implement once you’ve planned it all out. Planning allows you to implement the changes across the whole website including blog post images, headers, footers, buttons, fonts and placeholders.
When changing your branding on Social Media it can feel quite jarring as you have a complete record of all your work under the old brand, to date. You can’t just recreate the new branding on old posts the way you can on websites so it can be difficult to reintroduce a new brand on your Social Media channels.
You get to control when you’re online.
🙋♀️ Hands up if you remember the Facebook blackout of October 2021. Due to some errant code being written Facebook disappeared from the internet entirely. This is a bit irksome if you had a personal profile and potentially catastrophic if you had an online shop. Scheduled posts didn’t get published, items didn’t get sold, adverts which had been paid for weren’t available, it was a shambles. When you have your own website you are in complete control of hosting your website and won’t be derailed by dodgy code.
People are leaving Social Media in droves.
Do you ever randomly think of a friend, check their Facebook profile and realise they haven’t posted anything since 2016? Or their profile is greyed out because they’ve deactivated it? People have been leaving Social Media for years. What once seemed a fun way to keep up with friends in their 20s, can now feel like an invasion of privacy to people in their 40s. So whilst Social Media advertising can work for the people who are on the platforms, all your hard work won’t make a difference to those who aren’t on the platforms in the first place.
When you remember that one of the most essential elements of business is reputation management, it’s important that you get your branding, look, feel and tone of voice right on your website first before sharing it on Social Media.
Social Media platforms can be a brilliant tool for promoting your business once you have established your brand through your website.
Remember that Social Media trends come and go but having a fully up to date website will always be more important. Set your brand styling and values through your website and make sure the good content – such as blog posts – always go through to your website first and Social Media, second. After all, Social Media platforms, at best, have a whole heap of noise going on at any one time. This gives your website the opportunity of being the calm within the storm and where people go to engage with meaningful content without the pitfalls of Social Media.
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