Social media creates visibility, but a professional website builds relationships - and sales.
If you’re using social media to demonstrate expertise and encourage an audience to engage with your business, you’re off to a great start. Used correctly, social media is an excellent marketing tool. It can increase your brand awareness, position you as an expert, and strengthen the loyalty of your fans. These and other benefits of social media are not lost on the many businesses using it.
However, some small businesses unwisely use social media as a substitute for not having their own business website. While social media is a powerful tool for marketing and building online reach for a business, it does not fill the shoes of a website.
Used together, the combination of social media and a website can create a powerful presence for your business on the web. Social media attracts your audience, and a professional website provides you with the space to demonstrate what your brand has to offer, deepen engagement, and reach your marketing goals.
How a website builds on social media
Can a business exist on the web today with only social media sites and no actual business website? Yes. But if you are using social media in place of a business website, consider the following reasons for rethinking this.
The posts you make to social media provide exposure to the people you want to reach. When someone clicks from your social content to your website, they can take action to engage and create a lasting relationship - such as learning more about your business or signing-up to hear from you.
Here are 7 ways to build on your social media efforts and get more out of your marketing with a website.
1. Build your home
Social media is very transient. Not only does your audience need to be online when you post, but you are also reliant on algorithms to include the post in their feeds. Furthermore, will they be able to find the post when they most need it? Perhaps you should try scrolling through your social media feed to find a vaguely interesting post that you saw last month (or last week). While social media can give people a compelling reason to pay attention to your brand, having a website gives them a place to find you when the need arises.
2. Improve your credibility
Businesses with their own websites automatically look more professional and credible. Consider your own experience. If you’ve never heard of a business before, seeing that they have a dedicated website immediately makes them seem more reliable because they’ve invested in creating a presence for themselves beyond a simple Twitter account or Facebook page.
3. Tell your story
While social media lets you publish information in short bursts, a website provides a more expansive forum to communicate why your business is the best choice in a crowded marketplace. This differentiation drives engagement and conversion. In a carefully crafted environment, your website can detail your unique offerings, full pricing and service options, your powerhouse team behind the scenes, and reviews from happy customers.
4. Establish your brand
An important element of making your business stand out is branding - your "look and feel". When you use a social platform, you are stuck with its look and feel which is, more or less, the same as everyone else using the platform. The "look and feel" of a social site reflects the platform’s branding, not yours. A professionally designed website that is yours, with its own web hosting, can be tailored to reflect your "look and feel" - from visual elements like colours, fonts and imagery, to more nuanced things like voice and tone.
5. Get found by search engines
Social media improves search rankings since it encourages sharing. Search engines, in turn, rank websites favourably that have links on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. A website dedicated to your organization also gives search engines a place to send people. The right keywords, descriptions, and links on your website can take an interested social media viewer and turn them into an engaged audience member.
6. Demonstrate your expertise
Social media offers channels to share your expertise and garner attention. However, when someone clicks through to your website from your social accounts, more in-depth expert content like blog posts and videos can help drive home your position as a thought leader. Expert content on your website communicates that you understand audience priorities, it engages people for the long haul, and it drives conversions or sales.
7. Learn more about your audience
While social media engagement certainly provides great insight into audience habits and preferences, website analytics expand data collection in other ways. Through tools like Google Analytics, you can track which pages visitors go to and create targeted marketing based on their behaviours on your website. This audience knowledge also informs the services and features you provide based on website visitors’ priorities.
A big payoff from a little effort
Having a professional website doesn’t require knowledge of coding or enormous financial investment.
As you think about your website, consider how your audience engages with you, from the first questions they ask to the last step you take after they convert. Then use this to determine the features and content that are important for your website to have, and how the website can be used to bring your brand to life.
Then use social to complement your website, so you can solidify relationships and make conversions happen. It's easier to capture the potential from your social content outreach when you have a website that is a hub for your marketing efforts.