If you’re a small business looking to establish a digital presence, Facebook is a great and easy way to do so – it takes all of five minutes to get started, and the uniform look of Facebook pages means that you do not have to worry about web design. However, it is not nearly enough in today’s hyper-competitive market. As business owners, your time and resource are tremendously stretched, and so in this article we will show you how you can keep your digital marketing bases covered with what is effective for your business.
Don’t get us wrong, having a page on Facebook is good for several reasons
With it’s 1.5 billion users, odds are the people you want to reach are on Facebook – many of whom search for local businesses on the platform, especially on mobile. The contact information and operating hours sections are standardized, so potential customers don’t have to hunt for it – they can even hit the link to call the business. Even better, if any of their friends already like the page, this is also proudly displayed as a form of social proof.
However, this shouldn’t be your entire digital strategy
In the past, when your customers engaged with your Facebook content, there would be a good chance for the story to appear on the News Feed of their friends but over the two years, organic reach has been steadily declining, even amongst your own fan base. This means that you now reach less than 5% of your fanbase with each post.
Small business owners also have trouble quantifying the returns on their Facebook investment – an April 2015 study by Manta found that 59% of surveyed small businesses did not see a Facebook ROI, and 17% of those who did earned less than $1,000.
There is also another important consideration – search. Anecdotally, Google seems to prioritize Facebook pages lower than official sites and local listings. 33% of search traffic going to the top organic link, and 65% to 75% typically clicking through to the top 5 links, you would want to maximize exposure to your owned channels, especially ensuring you have the top link to capture all the interest when people search for your brand. This would be a tall order for a single Facebook page.
Having an official website in addition to a Facebook page
A recent eMarketer study found that SMB owners felt that corporate websites were their most effective marketing method, six percentage points higher than the next most effective method – social media. These days, creating a website does not have to be an expensive or time intensive process – tools like our Website Builder make it as easy as dragging images and entering text into a template while maintaining their branding and look. This allows you to create several pages quickly to include things like a product/service gallery, maps, customer testimonials, a blog and even an eCommerce page without the need for a web designer.
Having your own website and domain name also gives you a custom email address – adding professionalism and a sense of legitimacy when you reach out to your clients reach from your own email address rather than a free service like Gmail or Outlook.
The curious case of Google+ (and other services you should consider)
Now that we covered what many would consider the absolute minimum requirements for a robust online presence – there are some platforms you should consider seeing if they are right for your business.
Google+ might no longer enjoy the widespread usage like Facebook or Twitter, but it still has an important advantage – it increases the likelihood your brand info will appear in the Google ‘Knowledge Panel’ when people search your brand terms. The Knowledge Panel is the box that appears on the right side of the results page when you search for something on Google – prime digital real estate! It is thus worthwhile to invest a small amount of time in creating a page on Google+.
Local and interest specific channels may also add significant value to your digital marketing. Sites like Yelp and OpenTable might be helpful if you’re a restaurant or cafe or Dribbble and Behance if you’re a design service provider. As for the channels such as Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, they may be more time intensive and so the benefits need to be carefully weighed against the on-going resource you have to put into each channel.
Taking everything into consideration
Facebook might have been (and still is) an excellent channel for marketing your business online, but increasingly it is no longer sufficient if you are not intending to invest money in reaching your audience. While there are many other channels you can and should, a corporate website is one of the first steps you should take in order to build more credibility and authority with your potential customers, driving better returns on your marketing dollar.