Comparison: Facebook vs Your Website

Facebook screenshot of my "Your business is always open when you have a website" postWhy you should not rely solely on Facebook (insert any other social media) to promote your business instead of your website

Last week, I created a graphic and posted a message on my Facebook business page stating that “Your business is always open when you have a website! Don’t have one? I know just the gal who can help!”
I also shared it on my own timeline, knowing that the reach on my Facebook business page was very low.
My intention was to hopefully receive a few likes and possibly a share or two from anyone who saw the graphic and that it would ultimately lead to new business from someone needing a website.
Shortly, I received a notification that someone had replied to my post. Excited, I logged in to see who it was and what they had written. However, I was amazed to read the following response:

“my FB business page is always open …I never use my webpage”

I was flabbergasted. “I never use my webpage”?
“What a waste of an investment, what a waste of prime real estate for speaking to her audience,” I thought. After some careful consideration, I crafted the following short response:

My reply to reader's responseHowever, Facebook limits the number of people who see your business page, whereas the potential number of visitors to your website is unlimited. Also, you are in full control of your own website whereas Facebook is in control of your Facebook page.

The ultimate purpose of any social media, with respect businesses, is to lead people to your website, which you do through asking questions, starting conversations, sharing tips and resources and other messages.

Facebook can close the door to your business page and lock potential customers out at anytime. Would you prefer to have them holding the key to your door? Or would you prefer to hold the key?

A few days later at a networking meeting, I had the opportunity to speak for a couple of minutes and provide a tip.
So I mentioned my post, the reply and then elaborated on my response, providing some tips as to why you should not rely on Facebook, or any other social media, in lieu of your website, followed by some tips on what you should be doing instead.

Do you spend more time on your Facebook business page than you do on your website?

Do you rely on your Facebook business page for all your online promotions, not bothering to update your website?

Then you’re doing it wrong. The following comparisons demonstrate why.

Compare: Limited audience or Unlimited Audience

On your Facebook business page, your post reach is limited to your fan base and the people they share it with, if they even share it. On the other hand, your website is visible by a global audience and the reach is limitless.
Parasitic plant strangling a tree with message: Is Facebook's stranglehold restricting your business growthFacebook has put such a stranglehold on who can see your business page content that only about 2% of your fans get to see your posts on any given day. If you’re lucky, 20% may eventually get to see a “popular” post. Unless you’ve managed to acquire hundreds of thousands of fans, that’s not a large number. Your fans would need to visit your page specifically to see your posts or you’d need to share it on their timelines for most of them to see it. A huge task.
Added to that, if your audience is not around at the time you post on Facebook, there is even less chance of them seeing it. They may scroll back to see what they missed, but if they follow hundreds of people, they will more than likely miss your business posts.
On your website, there’s no limit to the number of people who can see your posts, no limit to the number of views, no strangle hold on your posts, and no time limit. While the actual percentage of the population who see your website posts may be lower, the audience is limitless and the long term reach is therefore much higher.
On your website, your posts are not competing with others, and you can provide links to older posts right on the landing page so your audience doesn’t need to scroll through hours of posts to see it.
Anything you post on your website can be viewed by anyone anywhere in the world at any time looking for the keywords used in your post.
With other social media, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, you are also limited by the number of characters in your posts. On your website, however, your post length is only limited by your time and your imagination.

To be found or not to be found?

Have you ever done a Google search for the keywords used in one of your Facebook posts?
I’m betting for most of you, the results are not to your liking. Yes, popular Facebook posts can be found on Google, but if your fan base is small, your Facebook post is not going to be found so easily.
Done right, however, content on your website has a much greater chance of being found on Google. By implementing Search Engine Optimization techniques and using the right keywords, pages on your website or posts in your blog can easily be found in Google searches.
All in all, compared with your website’s global reach, Facebook is considerably limited (and compared with Twitter and LinkedIn, there is also no limit to the number of characters you can use).

Compare: Limited Control vs Full Control

On Facebook, you have limited to no control while on your own website you have full control.
Girl in car with message: You're always in the driving seat when you rely on your own website to promote your businessAs mentioned earlier, Facebook puts a strangle hold on who can see your status updates on your business page. Facebook is always making changes to its services, how you can use it, what you can do, who can see your posts. This is because Facebook is in control, not you. The powers that be want you to pay to boost your business page posts. Facebook is constantly changing the parameters, what you can and cannot do and what your fans can and cannot see.
What if Facebook pulled the plug or made all business pages a paid service?
The powers that be can literally pull the plug on your business page at any time; if you posted something not quite to their liking, competitors complained about your posts (yes, they do that!) or they decided all business pages must now be a paid service. If Facebook gets too many complaints about your business page, they can pull the plug, just like that. No questions asked. And it can take quite some time to convince them that you have done nothing wrong so that they reinstate your page. In the meantime, you have lost your already-limited audience and it may take some time to get them back!
Your self-hosted website, however, is under your full control. You control what you do on your website and what your fans can see. Yes, there is inevitably some downtime (due to scheduled server maintenance, power outages in your server’s location, due to another client on your web host’s server spamming, or worse still, your own website is hacked). However, except for power outages which they cannot control, reputable web hosts will rectify the situation very quickly and, provided you have implemented safeguards against being hacked and back-up your website regularly, it is a rare situation that can also be fixed quickly.
Your web host does not control what you can and cannot do on your website (beyond its terms and services). However, if you’re not happy with the customer service from your web host or they make changes to their terms of service that you do not agree with, you can move your website elsewhere, lock, stock and barrel. Provided you have backed-up your website and have downloaded it to your computer (or had someone else do it for you), you can set up home elsewhere in a matter of a few hours without losing any downtime. Try moving all your stuff from Facebook to a new location!

Compare: Competitors Ads vs Your Ads

On Facebook, your fans are bombarded with promoted ads; often your competitors’ ads. Anyone who does get to read your posts will be presented with related promoted “posts” in their timeline or ads in their ad feed from similar pages. Some ads that appear will be from YOUR competitors and often the “related” posts are from your competitors too. Even if your audience does not click to read the related post or visit the advertiser’s website, they still see the headlines or your competitor’s name. Many ads appear multiple times, depending on how much the advertiser spends on the campaign. Seen often enough, they may either start to think it’s you and that you are spamming them, or they will become more familiar with your competitor than you.
On your own website, however, your visitors will only see the posts and ads YOU choose for them to see, YOUR posts, your ads and your promos. If you do allow third party (PPC) ads on your website, you have a choice of where the ads appear and at least some degree of choice on what type of companies’ ads can appear. Even better, you can include ads from colleagues in “related” fields who provide products or services that you do not offer. You can provide affiliate ads and/or reciprocal links from partners you work with. Your visitors will appreciate these types of ads far greater than spammy “related” Facebook ads.

Compare: Being considered Spam vs Being loved by Google

Facebook users, to some degree, can control what they see too. If you post too frequently, and the “fans” that do get to see your posts see too many too often, they may block your posts to clean up their timeline or even worse, they may report posts as being spam, which will negatively impact your Facebook page and its reach. Posting the same message (or variation of the same message) in the hope that your audience eventually sees your message, can have an adverse effect. So posting too often on Facebook is not beneficial.
Conversely, posting frequently on your own website does not affect your reach negatively. While users (subscribers) can choose whether to visit your website or read posts, the more frequent you post on your website, the higher your global reach. Google loves websites that provide regular and frequent content. I don’t suggest you post the same message (or variation of the same message) over and over again, however, if your posts are diverse and you provide lots of tips and resources on topics your audience are looking for, Google will rank your website higher on search results pages. Those searching for your products and services stand a much greater chance of finding you.

What should you be doing?

Find out next week, when I will talk about what you should be doing instead.