Can A Facebook Page Replace A Website?

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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