Whenever Facebook or Instagram goes down, I shake my head thinking about how many people are using those platforms solely to run their business.
A common mistake I see when business owners start working on their online presence is they put social media ahead of their website. They don’t have a website, but you can find them on Instagram. Or they’ll have a website, but they leave it dormant in favor of keeping their Facebook current.
It’s understandable. After all, social media is “free”, where all the people are, and it appears to be less work. However, you’re setting your online presence (and your business) up for big risk.
You don’t own your content on social media. You don’t own your followers. Think about it. If Instagram shut your account down, how would you reach people? How would you do business?
You think it can never happen to you until it does. Spam and fake accounts run rampant on Instagram, and unfortunately, the wrong accounts can get caught in the crossfires.
Karmen K’s Instagram was disabled for impersonation, something that’s very common on that platform. Someone had created a fake account taking all her photos, and yet she was penalized.
Northfolk got locked out of their Instagram for two months with no explanation. Luckily, their business doesn’t heavily rely on social media.
“It was only because of our website systems that this hiccup didn’t derail our business!”
When you’re relying on social media, you’re playing by their rules. When your website does the work, you make the rules.
Clients ask me all the time how they can be number one on Google. Spoiler alert: not through social media. Customers want to visit your website first.
If your only medium is social media, not only do you not have the ability to optimize your content for search engines but you’ll be pushed down in favor of websites with fresh content.
Social media doesn’t give you the ability to lay things out in a way for a potential client to understand. You’re using their structure. Having a website allows you to strategically target your ideal customer and guide them in the right direction.
Not all of your potential customers have social media, and nowadays not everyone wants to be. Many people are deleting their Facebook in favor of a more peaceful internet experience. How do you cater to them?
Or let’s say you’re a social media marketer and the only way to work with you is to DM you on Instagram. If a potential client wants to hire you because they need help setting up Instagram, how are they suppose to connect with you?
It’s also important to know who your target audience is and what platforms they’re on. Otherwise, you may be targeting the wrong people.
Many business owners will start on social media because they want to be as accessible as possible. In their mind, the more accessible they are the money they will make. This leads to a severe lack of boundaries, and unfortunately, it invites clients that have none as well. If you don’t have boundaries, why should they?
I’ve heard horror stories about clients blowing up DMs at ungodly hours with ridiculous requests and violating boundaries to the point where they were blocked. That’s not a way to create a community or run a business.
Boundaries are so incredibly important because they help avoid burnout and make your overall business run smoother. A great way to do this is funneling leads and communication through one point of contact: your website.
When a potential customer is looking to do business with someone, the first thing they’re going to do is Google. They want to know what you do, how much it costs, and assess if you can meet their needs. When they can’t find you via a website it says a lot more than you think.
I remember when my husband was researching who to hire for some yard work, he kept muttering, “No website, no business!” He didn’t know who to hire or where to start because no one had a website, or if they did, it didn’t give him the information he needed. This is not how you want to attract your ideal customer.
“56% of people won’t trust a business that doesn’t have a website. Not having a website can clearly cost you money, yet, many solopreneurs decide to promote their businesses solely on platforms like Instagram to save money and time. Although referrals play a great part in business growth, having a website will help you convert more of your existing referrals because most people still do their own research and stack you against your competitors.”– Karmen Kendrick
Build trust by anticipating your customer’s needs. Know that they’re going to be researching and use that to your advantage by giving them what they’re looking for. Stand out by serving.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for social media. You should definitely use it, but use it as a tool to get people to your website.
“The biggest goal of social media should be to create connection and provide invitations for people to leave the app and connect with you in a space that you own.”– Jenna Kutcher
All roads should lead to your website, the central hub and virtual home for your brand where you get to control the conversation.
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The Lovely Geek is a one-woman studio based in Sacramento, CA working with small businesses throughout the United States.