I had a potential client ask me if having a website was still a big deal or if it was a good strategy to use the plethora of platforms to engage with consumers. I have a strong feeling about that, and it’s that digital homelessness is a really bad idea. Let me explain why.
I’ll deal with facts before I get into my opinion (as I’ve encouraged you folks to do many times here on the screed). Let me quote from a Digiday article of last November:
Referral traffic (desktop + mobile) to the top 30 Facebook publishers…plunged 32 percent from January to October, according to SimpleReach, a distribution analytics company. The more reliant the publisher on Facebook, the bigger the hit: Among the top 10, the drop was a steeper 42.7 percent.
Those results line up with those from social traffic tracker SimilarWeb. It found that The Huffington Post’s Facebook traffic fell 60.1 percent, Fox News’ dropped 48.2 percent, and BuzzFeed’s Facebook visits fell 40.8 percent. Across all 50, the biggest drop in traffic in the period took place from January to February, when publishers’ Facebook traffic fell an average of 75 percent. There was a smaller but also significant drop from March to April.
Maybe it was an algorithm shift, maybe it was that the publishers weren’t offering content that was click-worthy. That proves my point – you can’t know. If it was the former, you’re at the mercy of a gatekeeper. I’m not singling out Facebook – Instagram just went to an algorithmically determined feed, as has Twitter. The point is that without a home base you are at their mercy. Why? Because you can’t market for yourself. “Like Us On Facebook” does a world of good for Facebook and little for you, in my opinion, because while a consumer might like you, they might never see you.
Yes, you can buy ads on any of the aforementioned platforms to drive traffic. Is that any different from buying search ads? I think it is. Search is targeted differently and can be better integrate with site analytics than can any outside platforms. Putting that aside, with so much in our business lives out of our control, why would we give up anything that can be completely ours? Having a well-designed and maintained website – a home base on the web – is one of those things. That’s how I see it. You?