Even if you’re not engaged in eCommerce, you still want your website to reach its intended audience. The question of the day is, which is better for traffic generation and branding, social media or the website itself?
Once upon a time, the main question asked of business owners was “Do you have a website?” Now, you’re just as likely to hear “Are you on Twitter? (or Facebook, YouTube, IG, etc)”. The perceived hassle of building and maintaining a website, coupled with the proliferation of so many social platforms, leaves many business owners wondering if they even need to bother with a website at all.
The Advantages of Building a Social Media Presence
One of the main advantages of social media is that it’s free. Free is always good when it comes to marketing your business. Even if you do resort to some paid advertising and promotion, you’re still getting a good ROI in terms of reach and social proof.
But those aren’t the only advantages to using social media to boost your web presence.
Social media benefits your business by:
- Providing faster, more personal methods of communication
- Boosting branding through customized content creation
- Establishing a network that promotes partnerships and community growth
- Offering a platform for use-generated content
- Reaching more people and giving them concrete information about your business through reviews, shares, and comments
- Enabling insightful competition monitoring. You can gauge your competition by their social engagement and feedback and gain better insight into what drives your target audience. You can also determine where competitors are missing the mark and move quickly to fill in the gaps.
But, once you’ve got your audience excited about your business, they still need a platform to view and purchase the goods. In fact, most people would be suspicious if you advertise a business or product without a website to instill trust and customer service.
Why You Still Need a Website
While a social media presence is essential in the information age, it’s still no substitute for a well-constructed, user-friendly website. Social media may drive awareness, but you need something substantial to feed your visitors when your social media blurbs lead them to your website.
Consumers expect that even brick-and-mortar companies have a platform they can visit to get more information. In fact, more than 80% of potential customers check up on a business via their website before making their first contact.
If that isn’t enough to stress the importance of your website, 88% of respondents are unlikely to return to a website that has issues, regardless of how much they enjoy visiting your Facebook page or Instagram account.
In order to give them a pay-off for their initial interest and follow through, make sure that you construct the best possible website that your budget can afford.
Choose Reliable Hosting
Before you begin to build your website, you need a platform to host it and store all of your files. Avoid free hosting services and even shared plans if you want a reliable website that grows with you. Free services make money by sticking annoying ads on your pages or selling your information to advertisers, and shared plans have issues with uptime, speed, and reliability.
Choose an affordable hosting plan that provides performance guarantees in writing, offers flexible services that are suitable for your expected traffic and future growth, and has server locations that are near your target market.
How fast your site loads is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a hosting provider. This is a common problem when looking at cheap hosting providers, Alex Williams of Hosting Data published a 12 month study on cheap hosts:
“Discount hosting providers on average had a response time of roughly 36% over the average response/uptime scores for dedicated hosts or those utilizing cloud networks like AWS orGoogle Cloud.”
Additional research indicates that load times greatly influence generated revenue for ecom and digital storefronts. Maintaining a <1second load time is essential to digital businesses.
Follow Design and SEO Best Practices
Once you have your hosting plan settled, build a website that’s simple in design, user-friendly, and functional. If you lack the time or expertise to do the heavy lifting on your own, you can use a quality content management system like WordPress or hire a professional web designer to build a site for you. That gives you the advantage of having someone on your team who has the expertise and tools to adhere to current best practices and take care of all of the maintenance and upkeep on your behalf.
Optimize for Mobile
Mobile devices now account for more than half of all global internet use. Eight out of 10 persons surveyed stated that they wouldn’t revisit a page that didn’t work well on their device. In addition, 88 percent of visits to a business location occur within 24 hours of mobile search. That makes mobile responsiveness and design one of the top considerations when building a website.
When creating your website, design for mobile first. If a page looks good on a mobile device, that will translate to an aesthetically pleasing, functional page on any other device. Designing for a PC will not necessarily give you good results when viewed on a smartphone screen. Google also indexes pages for mobile first for the same reason.
One of the main things that Google algorithms measure is user experience (UX). By building an attractive, functional website for your new friends and customers to visit and devising a robust, multi-pronged outreach strategy to promote it, you’re setting the foundation for the kind of quality experience that discerning customers have come to expect from modern businesses and service providers.
Social media versus website can become a chicken-or-egg question. Ideally, your social media activities will augment and support your business activities. It’s difficult to separate one from the other if you want a robust, viable marketing strategy.
Rather than sitting on the fence about which is best, use both strategically in order to raise awareness, solidify branding, and provide your audience with added value services that support engagement while building trust and authority.
Much like investing, marketing and outreach work best when you diversify. A strong social media presence will support awareness and engagement while furnishing social proof.
But, you need an optimized, user-friendly platform if you really want to serve your audience.
Your web presence and reach depend upon reliable performance and consistent, high-quality content. It takes just 0.05 seconds for a visitor to form an opinion about your company. What does your overall web presence tell them about yours?
Content creation and marketing strategies are your department, but the other factors require reliable hosting.
Optimize your site for SEO and ensure high uptime and performance by choosing the best hosting plan for your type of website and business model.