Facebook as Your “Website”? Here’s Why That Might Be a Bad Idea

Not so long ago, having a website for a small business seemed like something that was only feasible for the high-margin business or the tech-savvy entrepreneur. Today, a professional-looking website is within reach of virtually any business. Still, in the Facebook age, many businesses are tempted to use a page on the social networking site as their primary online presence.

Facebook is certainly a low-cost option to very quickly get your business’ web presence up and running; however, there are a number of considerations to keep in mind before using Facebook as your only online vehicle.

As Vangie Beal writes in the CIO article “Can Facebook Replace Traditional Business Websites?” the Facebook-page-as-the-primary-website strategy is probably not for the big boys. “Most websites at bigger companies are a complex beast where integration between back-end databases and systems—often proprietary or legacy—and your website is crucial,” says Beal. “Here, Facebook alone clearly just doesn’t cut it.” But for smaller companies, such complexity is not always needed, and Facebook may be a viable alternative.

While a Facebook page may be able to take on the role of a web page and ensure the visibility of a company online, there is a risk involved in publishing your company’s assets on a site that is not owned by you. Facebook can at any time change the “rules of the game,” putting you at risk if this is the only presence you have established—or even if it’s your most significant presence online. For instance, what if they suddenly started charging $10,000/month to maintain a page on their site? What if they changed the rules to prohibit you from selling products on their site—or charged a commission for those sales?

Additionally, a Facebook page might not be the best option for every business from an image standpoint. It’s always important to have a presence online in ways that are appropriate given your target audience and your goals and objectives. For example, if you’re trying to position your product or service as the high-quality option with a premium price, a Facebook page may not convey that message.

Finally, it’s important to consider how much traffic you can drive to your Facebook page. While you can easily point customers to your site by explicitly telling them where to find your Facebook page via a business card or other targeted communications, it may not be as searchable as a traditional website.

Social media pages are certainly a low-cost option when it comes to cultivating an online presence; however, you should be sure to consider all of the potential risks that might be associated with this option.

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