I was reading a forum on LinkedIn recently that asked if Social Media was likely to reduce the importance of the website as a business tool. An interesting question; social media should already be an essential part of any marketing plan but could it actually usurp the trusty website? Read on…
At present, your website is the cornerstone of your online marketing with social media providing a way to bring more people to it and broadening your reach into current and new markets.
Of course, it is very possible to run campaigns using social media without bringing anybody back to your website but I would wager that a fair few of those people drawn to do business via social media will check out your website on route to a purchase.
What could be key is Facebook’s ongoing threat to Google. At present Google is king for any product or service that the majority of people want to find out about and/or buy. In fact over half of all retail purchases are researched online first. A simple Google search will direct potential customers within a click of your website (assuming it is sitting pretty at the top of page one of the rankings of course; the reason why SEO is so crucial).
However, Facebook is taking the game to Google and their agreement with Bing to provide a Facebook search engine they could soon be a big threat.
Facebook have recently enabled custom Facebook pages so you can style your Facebook page to your corporate image and even utilise multiple pages (see http://goo.gl/JhUym for an example). With over 500 million users, half of which will log on daily, a custom Facebook page is likely to become as vital (and perhaps in the future more vital than) your website. Facebook then use the amount of ‘likes’ in your social network to adjust the rankings when you search with Facebook making you more likely to see something people you know have recommended.
Google themselves are delving into the world of social media with their new ‘+1’ whereby you can endorse by ‘+1’ing a website. If others in your social sphere (through Google) come across the website in a Google search they will see which people they know have previously endorsed this brand – the more plus ones, the more endorsements and the more likely you are to visit the website and buy. Sound familiar?
So, the moral at present should be to embrace social media and keep your website optimised and up to date whilst keeping an eye on the future which is far from certain but guarantees to be interesting!