Is a Website Even Necessary Anymore?

A client asked me if they really needed a website for their business. With all the social media channels that are available, a person could theoretically setup a page on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin to maintain contact with potential clients.

My first impulse was to say, “YES!” to the question. I stopped myself to think critically about the alternative possibility. What would my business look like if I did not have website? A better question: What does my current website achieve for me, and can that be replicated solely through social media. Let’s consider.

A website has several typical functions:

The brochure site

I call it this because it is simply there so offline clients and random visitors can see a good-looking online presence. There is no intention to optimize for search engines or draw attention from an online audience.

Can this be replicated through social media?

Yes. You could create a page on Squidoo that has all the information for people to see. Need something a little more personalized? A Facebook fan page will do the trick. Nobody will question a Facebook or Twitter link on a business card.

Lead generation machine

This function is more intentional than the brochure. This site is drawing traffic in to create conversions. This is coupled with advertisement, seo tactics and offline networking. Getting clients to convert, both free and paid, builds a list that you can use over and over again to create recurring income.

Can this be replicated with social media?

Yes. Custom form builders that could be integrated into your Squidoo or Facebook page. Twitter and linked in could be used to drive people toward these pages for conversion.Using free directory listings can help increase your presence on search engines.

Customer engagement portal

This function seeks to get other people engaging on the site. The more they contribute, the larger their commitment to return is. Characteristics of this site are forums, niche blogging, productivity tools, etc.

Can this be replicated with social media?

Yes. Most social networking sites allow discussions and private group messaging. Twitter is a good place to have conversation.

Barring any sort of e-commerce, it appears that one will not need to have a website to achieve the same things a website can offer.

Wait! Before you go off and cancel your web hosting plan, consider this:

Although social media has many integrated tools and functions that can match a website. Remember that most clients value consistency. Ensure that whatever social media channel you use has a consistent base station: A place clients can go for the latest information. If it’s your email, let it be that. If it’s your Facebook page, keep that. If it’s your Twitter or Linkedin profile, stick with it.

The one thing that a website offers that is a central place for bringing your social media channels and activity together. It creates a hub for client engagement.

My answer to the original question is conditional. Yes you should have a website if you want a central place for customers to return to and stay engaged, or if you have an e-commerce component to your business. No you do not need a website if you are only planning to make one-time sales online or communicate solely through messaging. Customers don’t need to return to a product page they have already purchased from.

Paris Law is a success coach works with Solopreneurs and Business Leaders on initiatives that inspire extraordinary action. His favorite adage: “Let us never yield to simple complacency, but continually reach toward that forever stretching horizon.”

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