While as much as 59% of the world's population is online, you must also take care of your online presence, especially when you run your own business. The most obvious solution, in this case, is to create a company website or set up a profile, e.g., on Instagram. However, which solution will give you more development opportunities? Or maybe it is worth using both, but with different goals? Find out what actions are best to take so that your online presence will skyrocket your business's growth.
Why is having an online presence important?
There are 5.6 billion searches on Google daily. Nowadays, people are looking for everything on the Internet. From entertainment to solutions to professional or private problems. The Internet is one of the first places you start your search, which undeniably determines whether you need to be visible online when you have a business. Global internet use is currently 59.5%. Of course, you don't want to lose your chance to reach even a fraction of that number, right?
Once you know that your online presence is necessary to grow your business and expand your audience, what should this presence look like? The most common question is the dilemma between creating a website and setting up a profile on some social media platform. What is the best solution when you run your own business?
Pros and cons of using social media for building your online presence
More than 53% of the world's population currently uses social media. This is a massive number of people, including potential recipients of your offer. So why not start your online presence right away with social media? Before you start, it is worth getting acquainted with the good and bad sides of building your online business visibility using only social media to be aware of what outcome they can offer you.
Pros of social media
1. A huge number of users
No matter what industry you operate in - your potential customers definitely use social media. You will find users of all ages, professions, interests, and lifestyles. All you have to do is do deeper research to find the platform that attracts the most of your audience.
2. Cheap and easily accessible
Creating a profile on social media costs nothing and takes only a few moments. This is, without a doubt, the fastest way to get online.
3. They reduce the distance between you and your customers
On social media distance between companies and their customers is very small. This is important because it allows you to develop a closer relationship with them. Today's consumers want to buy from companies they know, trust, and love.
4. Building a great image
As social media is based, among others, on the public dialogue between users, it gives companies vast opportunities to build their image. They can, for example:
a) Talk to their recipients.
b) Respond to their comments.
c) Try to positively influence their emotions, e.g., through a funny post.
They can also boast about their charitable activities and are sure that this message will reach a broad audience.
5. Good for Content Marketing
While there are many paths to success on the Internet, there is no denying that good content marketing can bring enormous business benefits in the long run. Social media offers the possibility of distributing content in various forms (video, image, tweets, etc.) and allows you to redistribute content already on the company's website. It is best for recipients who may be interested in it, e.g., by using thematic groups or advertisements.
6. Building a community
As I have already mentioned, social media shortens the distance between the company and its customers. Moreover, thanks to the mechanisms of social networks, they allow the building of a close-knit and loyal community of fans or customers around a brand or a specific person.
For this purpose, the following are extremely helpful: Facebook thematic groups. Leading a group that will include only people interested in your services or products increases the likelihood of successful sales. In addition, if you don't want to use paid ads and care about the extensive reach of your content on Facebook, you should set up a group and invite your customers to it.
7. Optimization for mobile devices
A significant advantage of using social media is that you don't need to optimize your profile for mobile devices. Most social media offer free mobile applications, which often run faster than the browser versions of their portals. This is especially important because now, more than half of consumers use the Internet through mobile devices, most often smartphones.
Cons of social media
1. Your profile is not your property
2. Social media are not suitable for sale
Even though increasingly social platforms are starting to implement e-commerce-style functionalities, social media is still not the best way to sell. Take a look, for example, at the Fanpage. It is poorly suited for one-time purchases because things such as products and services are purchased through research on Google. Nobody enters the search terms "hairdresser London" in the search engine on Facebook.
You must also be aware that social networks are trying to maximize their results and will strive at all costs to ensure that any purchase generated is based on paying them a commission - usually a maximum commission. That is why they implement a marketplace, e.g., Facebook Marketplace, thereby taking a lot of money (especially in terms of profits) from your company.
Always rely on independent tools to generate sales, such as the website in BOWWE and the appropriate tools on it for the most outstanding possible sale:
a) online reservations - preferably paid at a fixed monthly rate, the so-called SAAS, not as a commission,
b) customer feedback - independent opinions that will help build trust,
c) portfolio - complemented with your professional designs to show the high quality of your services,
d) online coupons - attractive coupons that will convince the undecided,
e) ... and much more.
3. Limited reach
The times of broad, free organic reach in social media are over forever. It can be seen very well in the example of Facebook. From year to year, changes are made to its algorithm, which cuts the visibility of content published by brands, which naturally cuts their reach.
Even if your post appears on an average Facebook user dashboard, in most cases, it will only "scan" its content and move on without taking any action of value for you.
4. Changing trends
Trends in social media are constantly changing. Since these portals are primarily based on technological innovations, you never know when a new platform will appear, quickly achieving enormous success, taking users from another platform.
An interesting example is Snapchat, which has achieved enormous success and has remained an extremely engaging application over the years. However, when his competition - Meta (formerly Facebook) - decided to copy most of its functionality to Instagram (which he also owns), Snapchat's popularity ended. It is definitely worth observing such trends and taking advantage of them, but without basing the company's entire development on them.
5. Possible data leakage
You have probably heard about numerous image scandals related to attacks by cybercriminals or data leaks on social media. Such events take place every now and then. In the case of running a business, when you are responsible for the data of your employees and your clients, you cannot afford any risk related to their leakage.
6. Different platform = different rules
Even though social platforms every now and then reflect some functionalities from each other, each still has its own rules. While Instagram does not allow you to post active links in post descriptions, Twitter has limits on the length of the text content. For this reason, it is difficult for people to promote their brands because they need a different strategy for each medium.
Pros and cons of using a website for building your online presence
There are over 1.5 trillion active websites, including 5.6 trillion Google searches daily. The Internet has become an inseparable part of our lives, so we are looking for solutions to our problems or simply for entertainment there more and more often. And we find it all on websites. Does it mean you should create it, starting your adventure on the Internet? First, consider all the pros and cons.
Pros of website
1. SEO - free traffic
Suppose you optimize your content according to SEO rules and position yourself for the right keywords. In that case, you will gain access to an unlimited source of free traffic, thanks to which users will be able to find you more quickly, without spending your money on paid advertising that isn't guaranteed to be effective.
In BOWWE, you have access to an advanced SEO section that will open up new opportunities for you to get free and valuable traffic.
2. Unlimited personalization options
It only takes users 50 milliseconds to evaluate your website. Therefore, taking care of its professional but, at the same time, unique appearance should be a priority for you. In the case of your website, no one dictates what it should look like; you make this decision, which may turn out to be the key to acquiring new customers.
3. Building credibility and trust
55% of people search for reviews and recommendations online before making a purchase, and 47% visit the company's website. The website is a replaced tool in building trust in your company and offer by including information such as opinions from your customers or details of the offer.
4. Free analytics
Each website indexed in the Google search engine gains access to extremely valuable tools supporting every business - Google Analytics and Google Search Console. They provide useful statistics about your website and its users, thanks to which you can better respond to the needs of your audience.
Each page created in BOWWE is also provided with internal page statistics, which guarantee you access to current information about it and allow you to quickly react to any changes.
5. Your own place on the Web
The website is only your place on the web. This means that you can make any changes to it, in line with your company's business model. What is equally important, you are also the only owner of the content posted on it, so you don't have to be afraid that one day the website will disappear and your source of income with it.
6. Stability and security
The website also gives you the opportunity to make a backup of your data. Thanks to this, even if your website breaks down, you will quickly restore it to its initial state, and you will not lose all your data irretrievably.
7. Everything in one place
The website is very convenient for your clients because everything they need is in one place. They can find contact information, an offer, connect with support if they have any questions, or make a purchase. They can do all of this without leaving your website, reducing the likelihood of them leaving without any conversion that is important to you.
8. Greater opportunities
When you own a website, you decide with whom to share the profits with it and how you want to collect them. You can, for example, run an online store or charge for advertisements on your website. You have enormous opportunities that you can use at will to get the most out of your business
Cons of a website
1. Time to create
Depending on how you decide to create a website, time to create it can take a little care. You will wait for the longest when you outsource it to an agency or a freelancer. The shortest way is to use website builders, in which you just need to drag and drop ready sections of the website into the project, which then you only have to adapt to your own requirements and supplement with your own content. You can always use ready-made templates (in BOWWE, we have over 200 of them!), Which will allow you to build a website in a few minutes.
While it is possible to create a free website, in the case of running a professional business focused on development, better to start investing real money in your website from the very beginning. The more you save, the more you cut your possible profits. The cost of creating a website depends on many factors, which you will learn more about here.
Website or social media. What to choose?
The purpose of this article is not to discourage people from using social media but to no replace a website with social media. Many think that only with a profile (even a popular one) on a social platform they will be able to run a prosperous business. It's not true!
Basing your entire activity on social media involves a considerable risk that isn't worth taking. Of course, this does not mean that you should resign from being present on social media. However, instead of using these platforms as a replacement for your website, it's better to use them to increase your brand's visibility and bring potential customers to your website, where they will benefit from your offer.
Website vs. social media - FAQ
Is it better to have a Facebook page or a website?
Is a Facebook page the same as a website?
Do I need a website if I have a Facebook page?
What is the point of a Fanpage?
Do I need a website if I have social media?
Why websites are important?
Karol is a serial entrepreneur, e-commerce speaker m.in for the World Bank, and founder of 3 startups, as part of which he has advised several hundred companies. He was also responsible for projects of the largest financial institutions in Europe, with the smallest project being worth over €50 million.
He has two master's degrees, one in Computer Science and the other in Marketing Management, obtained during his studies in Poland and Portugal. He gained experience in Silicon Valley and while running companies in many countries, including Poland, Portugal, the United States, and Great Britain. For over ten years, he has been helping startups, financial institutions, small and medium-sized enterprises to improve their functioning through digitization.