“Why should I pay for a website when I can set up a free page on Facebook?”
That’s a line I’ve heard more than once over the past couple of years!
Here’s my response: Would you pay for a major redecoration job on an apartment you only rented? You would be paying for the privilege of increasing the value of someone else’s asset.
Because that’s what you’re doing with a Facebook page.
In Content Marketing terms my response would be: “Why would I build out content on someone else’s site rather than my own?”
The point is this: you do not own or control your content on Facebook. They can sell it, distribute it or take it down altogether, any time they want to.
They can (and do) change their terms and conditions, change the way you access and update your information and change the way it’s displayed, with irritating regularity.
And that’s before we even start talking about the importance of having your own domain.
Is your business professional or what..?
If two companies operating the same business in the same town offered you their business cards and one’s web address was
www.facebook.com/companyname, while the other’s was
www.companyname.com, which would you assume to be the best established and most professional?
I don’t know about you, but for me it would be the
www.companyname.com one, hands down.
When you own your own website on your own domain you have total control. Your website is an extension of your business and it’s branded and managed accordingly.
You can say what you like (in videos, images or text) and no one can tell you to take it down because it infringes your membership terms and conditions.
Use Facebook where it’s useful
That’s not to say, though, that you should not have a Facebook page at all. Just don’t make it your primary or (worse) only web presence.
A social media presence should only ever be considered as a satellite that feeds people into your wholly owned, branded and managed company website. Then, if it’s taken down for any reason, you only lose a source of visitors, not your entire online presence.
So, when you’re planning your content distribution, your best stuff – the detailed, well-researched, informative, well-written stuff and, most importantly, your conversion pages – should go on your own site and your eye-candy stuff (videos, photos, short status-updates) should go on your Facebook page.
You want people visiting your own site, not Facebook. The job of Facebook should be to send them there.
Update – 29th November, 2012
As a result of the revenue problems that have affected Facebook’s share price since their flotation, Facebook recently started charging in order to get your Facebook page updates a decent exposure. Yet another example of how important it is not to rely on Facebook (or any third party) for your company’s website!
Update – 5th February, 2016
Here’s another example of how Facebook controls your content and who sees it, not you. FB has recently stated that content producers who have a Fan Page (or company page) can expect their reach to decline over time unless they pay to boost it.