I came across an interesting article on Marketing Profs the other day. Called “Four Reasons to Jettison the Traditional Website and Go Social it advocates a point of view that I’ve discussed with clients and would like to throw out to you today. The author puts it out there like this:
Everywhere around me now, I see companies dispensing with the traditional website in favor of integrating the most popular social networks right into the website and communicating with customers in real-time via tweets and Facebook posts. Big players like Skittles and Coca-Cola have completely bought into social, as have savvy small mom-and-pop shops.
He then goes on to explain why brands might not need websites any more, including reasons such as “it’s fresh, it’s affordable,” and others. I disagree with his point of view. First, brands need a home base. As you might have noticed, the social world isn’t exactly a unified place. Sure, Facebook is the main place consumers go, but they don’t really go there to interact with brands (and as we discussed a while back, brands haven’t figured out how not to behave like brands). How many companies took a step back in their social effort when Timeline was deployed? That’s an example of why you need to control the platform as well as the content.
The author also does a disservice to his readers with this statement: “Compared with the cost of building a website from scratch, plus maintaining it, establishing a business presence on a social network is ultra affordable.” This perpetrates a mindset too many clients have about social – it’s cheap and easy. Neither could be further from the truth. Sure, anyone has access to Facebook for free, but many of the support tools needed aren’t free and you still need humans to support the effort.
The gist of his argument is that big brands are very focused on social and they don’t do anything without testing and retesting to make sure it works so you should do it too. Putting aside the “follow them off the roof” mentality, I agree that everyone needs to be including social elements in their marketing although I don’t think we can simply say get on Facebook and Twitter and be done. A well-designed and supported website can accomplish a lot more for your brand than can a social front door.
I won’t be advising my clients to shut off or redirect their web efforts any time soon. What about you? What do you think?