I get asked this question all the time and it’s generally in the context of money. A free Facebook page makes more economic sense than a website in some minds. After all who doesn’t like free?
So what’s the answer? Can a Facebook page replace a website?
For me the short answer is simple: serious businesses should not have a Facebook business page instead of a website.
The more accurate answer is businesses can – and possibly should – have both; and while you’re at it get a Twitter page and a Google Plus page and a LinkedIn page and a…
Deep breath. Stay on point, Rivera.
Having a website and a Facebook business page (plus other social media outlets) affords prospects and customers an opportunity to find your business and interact with your business in a variety of different ways. Your Facebook page can play to Facebook’s strengths; your website can play to the strengths of whatever environment it is in.
But that doesn’t answer the initial question. Can a Facebook business page reasonably replace a website?
So let’s play this hypothetical scenario out with me answering the question with a “no”. I’m going to give you all the cons and I invite you to give me the pros. I know there are a many (e.g. Facebook is free!), but what fun would it be for me not to give you an opportunity to chime in?
So here goes…
Con. You don’t have any control over the features available on a Facebook business page.
You can use the default features and third party add-ons and features, but beyond that you’d have to write something custom which will be more specialized and potentially cost more than a website to build.
Even with custom apps, you still don’t have the scope of customization and the ability to expand, organize, display and market your content in the same way as you would on a website.
Con. You are at Facebook’s whim.
Those great features you like today might be gone tomorrow. Is there anything you can do about it? Nope.
Moreover, if you violate Facebook’s terms of service, they have every right to shut your page down and there’s nothing you can do about that, either.
Con. You can’t optimize for SEO or SEM.
I’m not going to get into a discussion on SEO or SEM or whether those forms of marketing are valid or in their death throes. The point is; it doesn’t matter. You are locked into Facebook’s playground and can’t go out of it. You will be restricted on what you post via their terms of service; how much you can post via their interface; and where you can post from via their API.
Con. Your audience may not be on Facebook.
If the people you are trying to target aren’t on Facebook then the exercise is moot. Additionally, if your business page is only on Facebook, then it will likely only be findable and usable by people who have a Facebook account. Either way, you are limiting yourself to Facebook’s ecosystem.
Con. How many people use Facbook to search for products?
A better question may be how many people search on Facebook for products and services over Google? Search on Facebook may go through some positive change (graph search anyone?), but at the moment, search is Google’s domain.
Con. Your business will be limited to Facebook’s business profiles and fields.
When you create a Facebook business page, you select a profile that then unlocks a series of fields that are applicable to that profile. What happens if your business exists between two profiles or you need more fields than provided by a profile? Tough cookies. That’s what.
Con. Having a Facebook business page doesn’t guarantee traffic or Likes.
In fact, there are metrics that show that when a Facebook user likes a page they will rarely come back. Of course this can be mitigated with a feature set that your customers desire, but just because you build it, they may not come. And even when they do come, they may never come back.
Con. Your content structure and organization is not under your control.
Did you ever do a search in Google and notice that the site you want has a section below it with organized topics or categories? For example, searching for a furniture shop might result in an entry in Google with a category listing or direct link to purchasing information. Your Facebook page will not have that as there is no definable structure for your content.
Con. Facebook’s guidelines may not align with your needs.
So you have a beautiful cover photo for your Facebook business page. Want to add text? Want to add your email address? Want to add your phone number to that image? These are violations of Facebook’s current policies. Seriously, look it up. Here are some guidelines for a cover. You can’t add:
- Images with more than 20% text
- Price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it on socialmusic.com”
- Contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address – all information that you want people to have immediately and easily
- References to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features
- Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends” (goodbye Marketing 101)
Con. It’s not free.
While you don’t have to pay Facebook to establish a business page the setup, maintenance, production of content and interaction with customers all require time. Creating compelling content is not a trivial task. It takes time and dedication. You can hire someone to do it for you or you can do it on your own; either way there will be an investment on your part.
So there you have it. That’s why you should not have a Facebook page instead of a website.
Now you can let me have it and give me your opposing view.
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Join the discussion 14 Comments
I have a question: Should you have Facebook instead of a e-newsletter?
According to every metric I’ve seen, e-mail still have the highest ROI. If you have a high quality opt in email list, that is going to be far more beneficial than a Facebook page. Ultimately, you should strive for both.
I think it is an obvious “no” in answering the question of having a FB page over website. Only someone attending the first grade in the Entrepreneurial School of Hard Knocks would see a page-only virtual reception room as the right thing to do(in my opinion). But for many small operators, a Facebook page is a good FIRST step in audience outreach and will garner them greater benefit than a website-first approach, especially if they are doing a self-build(which MANY do!) and haven’;t fully grasped the concept of using text-based SEO.
I am still watching how FB’s in-house search will come through personally, the last thing I want to have is results of searches skewed as to what my friends like, but…. Let’s say your business is a newish beaded jewelry shop on Etsy(like my recently launched Talisman Too). If a person has gotten a good start with a FB audience, and engaged those people attractively….and the FB search DOES become organic to people’s behavior… then that Talisman Too shop is going to come up in searches should friends decide the want a new pair of earrings…
I guess, in that respect, when and if the Facebook machine takes over the virtual world, then having a page over website would absolutely make sense. We’re not there, yet, and may never come to that point -so best to hedge bets and put as many points of contact out as we can effectively manage.
Interesting points. Did you read my other article that includes comment abot marketing to your Facebook friends; or more precisely – not marketing to your Facebook friends?
I’d love you thoughts on that.
I’m also intrigued by what Graph Search will turn out to be. Presumably it will be strongly social which may not be beneficial outside of the Facebook ecosystem.
Yes, a Facebook Page is a good place to start, as a previous comment says. I’ve seen lots of people spread themselves too thin: a Page and a blog and a website, and then they don’t have the resources to maintain them all. Better to have an excellent Facebook Page than a mediocre Page and a poor website.
But you would agree that one can only have a perfect Facebook page within the parameters of what Facebook defines as “perfect”. No?
I had a client ask me this question. In my opinion you need a website. I listed many of the same cons you listed. You can have so many great features on a website that you can’t have on Facebook. Plus you can design your website to have the look and feel of your business. You can’t do that on Facebook.
Very good observations! Thanks for reading. 🙂
The dogs in my head started barking when I read the title. Their bark? No.
Now, I’ve had folks try this… and my answer to them is always the same: if you TRY to do this, you’re risking digital sharecropping. When Facebook goes away, changes its layout, etc – you’re at their mercy. You don’t own anything there. You don’t own the contact lists, you don’t own the process, you don’t have the ability to export it.
You MUST have those three things to have a business, otherwise you’re sharecropping.
You brought up a good point…
All of the “likes” you have on your page are not *your* contacts, but Facebook’s.
I may need to update this article to reflect that.
You bet your bottom, Ralph!
My vote is no! Having our own website or blog is our own property. Why be at the mercy of Facebook? It just doesn’t make sense to me. Having a FB page in conjunction with your website or blog is another story. That’s fine. But with all the many changes in FB, why put all your hard work on that platform?
Your Facebook is not a website and can’t function as one. Vote NO. I worked hard on some iframes unwelcome now. Tried to upload a video…they want people and I use slides…..Oh well tomorrow hasn’t come yet so what else will be gone? I’ve tried that gra[ search….just go to google instead..