I live in a rural community where having the Internet is not a given for a lot of people. So many local businesses set-up a Facebook Business Page and call that their online presence. That should be sufficient for a small business, right? Well, let’s look at this.
Nowadays a Google result will return Facebook Business Pages in search results. That’s a huge plus. You can easily add photos and a description, another plus. And Facebook is location-based so people can check in and share your page when they’re at your business. Plus.
But wait, there’s more as they say on late-night television ads. Facebook is its own business with its own rules and ways of working. Remember that Facebook is free and always will be, that’s their slogan, so then there has to be a product somewhere for them to make billions of dollars, right? What is that product? You are.
To me this is not necessarily a bad thing. We get the social world of Facebook free and Facebook uses what we post to optimize an advertising experience aligned with what they perceive we’re interested in based on what we say and the posts we interact with.
But the down side of this is that Facebook posts competitor’s advertisements on your Page. After all, if you’re selling pizza, Facebook knows the visitor is interested in pizza and they’re going to post ads for relevant items to pique the viewer’s interest. That’s how they gain more advertisers, relevant results for those who pay Facebook.
Furthermore, Facebook will change the rules as they see benefit to themselves. While, now, we know what to expect with a Facebook Page, if the company determines that making a small or large change will benefit them (such as a large ad for a competitor) then they’ll do that. It’s Facebook’s business. We are the product.
Another reason having just a Facebook Page is bad is that an increasing number of businesses are blocking access to Facebook for their employees. Would you want to pay your employees to spend time on Facebook? Large employers, particularly in the government sector, are restricting access to the site.
Despite having over a billion users worldwide there are also a lot of people who simply choose not to have a Facebook account.
My point here is that you still need a digital presence that you own completely and that’s a website. But don’t be nervous, this is not the big deal it used to be.
You can easily create a website today with tools like Weebly and SquareSpace that could literally take you an afternoon to accomplish and have everything you need. Depending on the size and scope of your business, a single-page site done with a template tool could be more than sufficient. Nowadays a few beautiful pictures, accurate description and a few other pieces may be all you need.
These are all things that can be facilitated with a cell phone nowadays. But single-page sites can also incorporate maps, menus, photos, links to review sites, video and all manner of other tools to guide the customer experience. And all under your control.
Furthermore, the beauty of owning your own presence on line is that you can continue to tailor it to be of greater assistance to your customers. If you change hours, have specials or anything else the website is the first place you can let people know.
It's funny to me that shopkeepers and restaurateurs will head to Google first to find any information, but won't take the time to be on Google with their own businesses by having a simple website. But many of these businesses I talk to bemoan their lack of customers.
Remember if you can't find yourself on the Internet, or the picture is inaccurate, your customers can't find you either. It’s possible that you could have your own website by the end of this week and stop losing customers to competitors that do.
Article and image editing by Anthony Barthel