Putting All Your Eggs in a Social Media Basket – 7 Risks of Forgoing a Website
Aug 23, 2023|
When social media came around, it didn’t just revolutionise the way people shared information about themselves – it also completely changed the way businesses interact with their clients.
There is a growing trend of small businesses and solopreneurs forgoing websites completely – but what are the risks involved with ditching the good ol’ tried and trusty webpage?
For some people it works
My physical therapist is well-known in her field for rehabilitating busted shoulders (and I am the queen of busted shoulders, if I do say so myself). She is so well known in the part of England that I live in, that she – and the practice she works with- came via recommendation to me by the hospital in New York that performs my shoulder surgeries (I recently had my 4th trip under the knife).
A few months ago, we were talking about whether or not she needs a website. If you are to Google her name (which I embarrassingly admitted to doing before our first appointment) she is everywhere. She already makes online videos, has active social media, is invited to train and talk to other physical therapists abroad, and still manages to fit in clinic time to work with disasters like myself. I asked her if she was looking for new opportunities or new clients. She is not.
While breathing a quiet sigh of relief that she wasn’t looking to become any busier (because I don’t need that kind of appointment time competition), I told her that in her case she really doesn’t need one.
Yes folks, even as a person who owns a web design business, I will be the first to tell you if I don’t think you need a website. The process of getting a website is time-consuming not only for the people developing it, but also for the client who has to spend a lot of time thinking about its purpose and the content on it. If you really don’t need one, then that’s all there is to it.
But not everyone has that kind of exposure preceding them. So what are the risks when you don’t have one and you decide to only advertise your business on social media?
Risk #1: Social Media Downtime
We’ve all been there. Facebook or Instagram has a nuclear meltdown and next thing you know, you’re on Twitter (sorry, X) going full Inspector Gadget on the hashtag #FacebookDown. Or vice versa.
While a website can go down too, usually if you have both online presences (social media and a website) you’re covered in case the stars floating through the world wide web aren’t aligned.
Not only that but if you have a decent website hosting company, they should be able to get your website back up and running in a short time if it’s an isolated incident.
Usually the outages from Meta’s subsidiaries tend to be short-lived, but if they’re down during a window where you had a time-specific post due to appear (for example, a flash sale) then that’s really going to mess things up for your business.
Risk #2: Hack Attack
Look, websites are prone to hacks too, but if you’re managing your own website, you also have control over the level of security you have on it. When it comes to social media, you’re at their mercy – and the amount of attempted (and successful) hacks of peoples’ and business’s profiles on social media is exponential. Just yesterday, I got a password reset link from Facebook that I never requested.
When social media is your only online presence, the risk that a hack on your profile can leave you days (at least) without your services online can be truly detrimental to your business. I have friends who have had to create new Facebook profiles because the nature of a hack to their original profile was so severe that there was no way to safely restore it.
Risk #3: Big Brother is Watching
Not long ago, I received a warning from Instagram for content I had posted. What was the content? I had shared – on my stories – a funny meme from an astrological account about people who are Aries (me!) choosing to jump out of a plane rather than admit they’re wrong (it’s true, by the way). Insta got all up in my grill about that. I reported back to them to say they got it wrong and they dropped their complaint.
However, their initial warning was that I would be banned from posting stories further. If you’re a business on social media, that can threaten to destroy your social media strategy.
Then, a few months earlier, I had received a warning from Facebook for jokingly replying to a good friend who had commented on one of my posts that I would “kick him where it hurts” because he, if I remember correctly, made some joke about me being an American unable to handle driving on British roundabouts (also true, most days). They said my silly reply was instigating violence. I mean, there were laughing emojis in the comment, but Facebook chose to overlook that. Do you see where I am going with this?
Given that it’s a lot of algorithms rather than Zuck/Elon personally finding offense with your posts, a business that has a digital footprint on social media only may have to exercise a lot of extra caution when posting, because you never know what ridiculous thing could land you in social media jail – and if you’re banned from posting (or your business profile is entirely banned) then you may be sh*t outta luck.
Worse yet, if your profile is on a suspension and you’re the only one who can manage your business profile… well, that’s not great, is it? Facebook has, in the past, also suspended Facebook ad accounts when a connected personal profile has been suspended.
Facebook has also been known to suspend business profiles for reasons that don’t always follow logic (inviting too many people to like your page in a short period, etc – things they deem as spamm-y behaviour). No one hits the nuclear button quite like Meta does.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t have your business on social media – you absolutely should. However, I am letting you know that putting all your eggs in one basket when that basket has more rules than helicopter parents on prom night – can be a huge risk.
Risk #4: People may want to see a website before going further
Call me old school, call me a Boomer-wannabe… but at the end of the day, there is nothing more professional for your business than having a clean and polished website, as well as a domain-based email address (which you get with having a website). Having a website shows you invested in your business – remember, social media is free.
“Social media only” might work passably with the Gen Zs and Alphas, but your millennials and older are probably going to want to see you went through the motions of establishing your business on a platform that everyone has access to.
It’s also worth noting that on social media (and it’s not a secret) a company can buy followers and reviews. If you see a business with a crazy amount of followers but not a lot of engagement (likes, comments, reshares) and of course, a fairly empty portfolio – then you can kind of figure out what’s going on.
With a website, you don’t have to worry about all of this stuff with likes and followers – just lay out your services/products, a portfolio if required, and be done with it.
Risk #5: Social media business profiles are not well-laid out
Have you ever tried to find the information you really need on a Facebook business profile (I’ve linked ours). It’s not the easiest task in the world, is it? Maybe it’s a question of UX design, but I’ve never found using a Facebook business profile the most intuitive experience when it comes to finding products and learning more about a business.
On Instagram, your options for providing business information in an organised, easy-to-reference manner are even fewer.
Risk #6: Lack of SEO options!
Let’s talk about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for a minute. If people know the name of your business, they can input that name into a Google search and your social media pages hopefully will appear. But that means they have to know who you are already and you’re eliminating the option for potential clients/customers to find you in a random Google search.
So, for example, let’s say you own a gluten-free bakery in London (not as niche as it used to be, but still niche enough) that is social media only (you have lots of followers, but want to see more transactions). If I wanted to find your business and went to search “gluten-free bakery” in “London” what will show up first in my search results are bakeries that actually built those terms into their website’s SEO.
And even at that, your bakery is unlikely to show up even with those terms in your social media profile because businesses with actual websites will beat you in the rankings before any Facebook or Instagram profiles appear in the search.
Which brings me to my final point…
Risk #7: Not everyone does social media
If you’re under 30, I know what you’re going to say – you’re going to say, “well, I am not seeking older clients.” Newsflash: an increasing number of newly-minted adults are also shunning social media. I know several people in the millennial bracket who don’t use social media at all and at a push, may use LinkedIn for the sake of their careers.
For a lot of people, social media feels toxic and for the sake of their own mental health, they avoid it.
So who does do social media?
Well, you might be surprised to learn that 84% of 18-29 year olds use at least one social media site. It’s not 100%, friends. It’s not even 90%.
For the 30-49 cohort, this drops to 81%.
The number of users that are age 50-64 is 73%.
For people who are age 65+, this figure is 45%; less than half.
Now realise this – people who are 65+, for the most part, do know how to use the internet but may shun social media. A person who is 65 now was in their mid-30s when the internet started to become mainstream. Therefore, they did – for the most part- learn to use the internet because we never really believe we’re too old for anything in our 30s.
But when social media became really popular, this same cohort was well into their 40s and 50s and may have wanted to avoid being on the same platforms as their kids and grandkids (something I really appreciate, for one).
As a person with a business, unless your business is specifically tailored for a very young age group (but don’t forget 16% of that lower age bracket doesn’t do social media either), you are missing millions of potential clients by not having a website.
Not only that, people who are older tend to have more income to spend on your product. I know there are plenty of people who are financially solvent in their 20s, but it’s not the majority. When I was 25, I was an underpaid New York City teacher, often eating 39¢ ramen noodles for dinner and throwing a majority of my income towards rent. Believe me, I wasn’t anyone’s target audience at that time.
So what can you do?
Everyone knows that small businesses have to plan their finances very carefully. New businesses even more so. What many entrepreneurs will do as they map out a business plan is decide where they can cut costs. Some will decide a new website is too expensive.
There are many agencies out there taking their clients for a ride, and I’ve seen on entrepreneurial groups that there’s companies charging thousands for the most simple websites. That said, there are many agencies that don’t play those games and don’t have to inflate costs because, well, they actually know how to code and do things efficiently. Many smaller agencies will look to work with small businesses who are budget-conscious.
For example, last year we took the plight of the small, new business into account and created our Landing Page-Plus website package. The goal of this package is to provide the most affordable, basic parking space on the web with the promise that as you grow, we can help grow your website too.
In addition, even though the website is simple in nature, the website hosting you use will provide a professional-looking business email address. Plus, you’ll also be able to manage your SEO so that search engines pick up what you want them to see.
We understand that laying out a sizable amount of money for a website in the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey can be a huge risk. If we weren’t in the industry of building them, it would have been one for us when we were starting out too.
What is really right for your business?
At the end of the day, only you can answer that. You know your following, your products/services and target audience better than anyone. We all know that there are businesses out there that can survive on an Instagram feed alone, because they have a large enough following without the need for SEO and the focus of their work relies on an aesthetic.
Still, what works for one business certainly won’t work for all. The risks involved with not having a website should not be overlooked by any business, big or small.
The best combination of all is to have both – a website and social media. Not only that, if you have a solid social media following, you can use your posts to bring traffic to your website. It’s a win-win on every level of digital presence.
Want to take your business from social media only to website? Contact us and we’ll walk you through the process!