One of the most frequent questions that comes up in my classes is “With Facebook, do we still need a website?”
Certainly this is a valid issue. After all, in its quest for world domination, Facebook has effectively created an alternate universe, their own in-house Internet.
They have continued to add useful and effective technology that can replicate almost anything a website can do, including …
- Powerful demographic information and analytics
- Product sampling and local coupons
- Mobile integration, text and email
- Games, surveys and other interactive options
And then of course there is the fact that the world is there … or seemingly will be there. As marketers, we need to be where our customers are and that means Facebook.
In addition to this obvious fact, the data suggests that people are spending far more time on Facebook and less time on websites.
Up until now, my argument in favor of maintaining a website has been:
- Why would you give up the only thing you OWN on the web?
- I think it is a matter of when, not if, Facebook will have a privacy crisis that jeopardizes its viability. Why would you expose your company to that risk?
- Highly secure transactions should be executed behind your own firewall. Social platforms should point back to your website where the business takes place.
- Do you really want to trust your business to those guys in the Social Network movie?
I also remember a friend telling me last year about building a $50,000 eCommerce application for a customer that became obsolete the day before it was supposed to go live because Facebook changed the underlying technical requirements.
Another common argument I’ve heard is that companies need to hedge their bets. Surely there is a “next Facebook” coming down the line? As I expressed in a post called Why Facebook is more important than your house, I don’t think that is something to be concerned about any time soon.
But over time, my arguments seem to be sounding more emotional than practical. Maybe we should just accept the alternate universe and view websites as a back-up plan.
Why spend money building, promoting and optimizing a website nobody wants to visit? Do we surrender? What do you think?