Guest Blog: Allister Frost, Wild Orange Media

14 Dec 2017 | 12.05 pm

Guest Blog: Allister Frost, Wild Orange Media

Which is better - website or a Facebook Page?

14 Dec 2017 | 12.05 pm

Creating and maintaining a website is far easier today than ever before, says Allister Frost (pictured) of Wild Orange Media

 

Many small business owners are perplexed by the choice of having a website or Facebook page. Some complain about low visitor numbers to their website and a confusing array of site maintenance tasks. Meanwhile, those building their reputation through social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter seem to enjoy simple and free access to an ever-growing audience of followers.

According to a recent study by the IE Domain Registry, six out of ten Irish SMEs now have a social media presence. The dot ie Digital Health Index also shows that 93% of Irish SMEs using social media have benefitted from the increased business awareness it generates. So perhaps it’s finally time to abandon websites and focus instead on building an audience on social networks?

Social networks reinvention

There are some wider issues we need to consider. Social networks exist in a perpetual state of reinvention. Facebook, now the world’s largest social network with 1.8 billion monthly users, started out by ensuring that everything a business posted to the network would be seen by 100% of their connections. Today business posts rarely reach 10% of connections, and your reach may be even lower. Have you been posting updates and not receiving much engagement? This could be down to the simple fact that people are just not seeing your updates in their feed.

Renting versus buying

This dilution of free, organic reach is just one of the ways that social networks alter their terms of use over time. Put simply, when a business builds a presence on a third-party network it becomes a tenant living free of charge in someone else’s online home. Your business is immediately subject to the decisions of another company.

In contrast, a business website is exclusively controlled by you and your company. Nothing can happen to that website without your permission, and you decide how information should be presented and updated. Having your own website is the equivalent of buying a property, affording you far more protection in the long term than renting.

How to do it

Fionagh Ryan of Ryans Jewellers in Limerick has built a solid website presence for her company and sees great value in promoting it. Fionagh says customers often ask about jewellery pieces they’ve seen on Facebook and online. “In this digital age, it is vital for small businesses to be online at all stages and available whenever the customer happens to be looking for you,” she adds.

The good news is that creating and maintaining a website is far easier today than ever before. Many hosting platforms are self-updating, ensuring your site is always protected from the latest security threats. Website-building platforms such as Squarespace, Weebly or Wix, and web marketplaces like  SAMM, put simple web design tools within reach of even the most cautious of computer users.

The verdict

So, with all things considered, which is more important – a website or a Facebook page? My answer is ‘neither’ – they’re both important for modern SMEs. Every business owner should begin by creating a website to serve as their permanent home on the internet, under their control forever. Once that is established, many may also benefit from developing an active presence on relevant social networks to reach a wider audience and ultimately convert them into happy, paying customers.

• Allister Frost, founder of Wild Orange Media, was guest speaker at IEDR’s Internet Day. See his speech here

 

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