As more and more businesses are looking to create an online presence on the web, Facebook is becoming the easy solution for busy people who don’t want to pay web hosting fees and deal with the hassle of maintaining a traditional website. I’ve been seeing more and more websites that simply post an html message with a link to a Facebook business page instead of hosting any real content. There are many benefits to doing things this way instead of paying for web hosting.
#1 – No initial start-up fees. Facebook is free for the most part (if you don’t consider your data valuable).
#2 – You are already familiar with the interface. If you’ve been using Facebook since 2004, you must already have a good handle on how to log-in, upload photos and post messages to your wall. So, you’re already ahead of the game.
#3 – Facebook knows that businesses are interested in using it’s platform, and has been working on improving features by creating call-to action buttons such as “sign-up” or “buy-now”. Yes, Facebook has a shopping cart now! New apps like Pager now offer an alternative way to make your Facebook page look like a website.
#4 – Leveraging social media. Current buying/shopping trends show that people seek the advice the their friends and family in order to make buying decisions. Having an online presence connects you to your circle of friends, acquaintances and more.
#5 – Facebook Insights vs. Google Analytics. Much like a traditional website, you can analyze and track visits to your page as well as post or boost ads promoting your business. It’s all built in.
As a designer, I have to ask of social media platforms like Facebook are taking away business for Web Developers and Designers like me? The answer is no. Anyone can build a Facebook page. But, in order to build a GOOD Facebook page, you need a designer. A designer can create your logo, your cover page image, your events image, your milestone images. In other words, you still need a designer in order create professional branding and consistency across all the features that social media platforms offer. If you’re planning on having a presence on LinkedIn, Instagram or Twitter for example – you’re better off hiring a designer to design images for each of those platforms so that you’re branding remains consistent. As well, as your business grows, you may find yourself not having time to update your own page. In this case, it would be wise to hire a Social Media Manager to maintain your social media pages.
On the other hand, here are few downsides to using Facebook:
#1 – If your business grows and eventually requires higher-bandwidth, Facebook just won’t do the job. You will need to move to a good web hosting provider.
#2 – You will not be able to upload high resolution photos or many photos at all for that matter. Eventually you will plateau your allotted space.
#3 – Facebook will sort of, “own” your content. If you are a photographer or visual artist, this may be a conflict of interest.
My final assessment is that Facebook is great for start-ups, however, for larger businesses, a traditionally hosted website is the way to go.