A now-client of mine wanted to delete his organization’s web site in favor of using exclusively Facebook (primarily as a means of saving money).
“You can’t do that,” I explained. “The sites serve separate functions.”
The Value of Static
“Your web site,” I went on to say, “is very important. People come to it when they are actively looking for information. Let me ask you this, if you are looking for the operating hours of a restaurant, do you search Facebook or Google?”
Your web site is the first place potential customers will go to find static information about your organization. This can include hours of operation, phone numbers, address, information about the services offered, etc. Mostly, this is because users have developed this mental model of web interaction before Facebook existed. When a web site was the only presence an organization had on the web, it was the only online option. Today this information is often too sizable to present on Facebook in a way that anyone would ever read anyway (that long boring page of text?).
But this is a good thing.
We want users to come to the web site. By typing in your web address, a user is opting-in to learn about your organization. This allows us to more effectively market additional related information.
For example, a user goes to your web site to find the phone number for your restaurant. While on the home page, she discovers that you’re having a special price-fix menu on a certain day of the upcoming week.
You’ve just had the opportunity to market an event to a customer you know is interested in your restaurant. The likelihood of success of such a message is higher that if had come through advertising, or even through that person’s Facebook feed (where she hadn’t specifically opted-in to see that message).
If the web site is go great, what then, is the value of Facebook?
The Value of Community
Facebook is a tool an organization can use to nurture perceptions within its community. That sounds kind-of touchy-feely, so I’ll explain.
Your web site is the first stop for a user looking for information. If your site is well designed, they may wish to have a continuing relationship with you. Though your site should offer options for continuing the relationship (mailing list, RSS, bookmark, etc.), it is likely a user would like to continue the relationship where she already is. Aka. She’ll hit “like” on Facebook and become one of your fans.
This is the start of a slow, but ultimately worthwhile effort to build a human relationship between the user and your organization. More, it is also the foundation in the building of a community. Community here means “the regulars” – the folks so enamored by your organization and what you do, that they take an active role in engaging you and other users in your community.
Community is valuable for its frequency. A user may be more likely to check your Facebook page daily then your web page (she checks Facebook daily anyway). Certainly engagement with your brand will increase, as long as there is interaction.
Bringing the Two Together
- Your web site is the opt-in point of entry. It should be a point of entry to your community, not just your web page. You have an opportunity to market to a captive and receptive audience.
- Your web site should encourage participation in social communities. Your events should be listed on Facebook. Your on-site advertisements should be one-click shareable on Facebook or anywhere else your user is. This allows her voice to be the one to spread your message.
- Your Facebook site should help build a continuing relationship with the user.
Photo by Victor Valenzuela