Gregg Voss of Branding Bricks and I have been talking for the last 3 weeks about companies that are building their internet presence on someone else’s platform, at the expense of building on their own with their own website. Someone else’s platform could be Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or anywhere else that isn’t under your control. Someone else’s platform is where you are subject to someone else’s whim and will and can’t easily port your content somewhere else.
Today we have a two pronged attack, where Gregg will cover Why Brands are Neglecting Their Website, and I will share what will happen if you build your presence on social networks at the expense of your own website.
Someone else’s platform may change the layout, design and terms of service – Of course, this often happens when you’re not ready to move to the new version, or worse, without warning. Facebook is moving everyone to their new “timeline” on March 30th, 2012. This will remove the ability for brands to utilize “like gates” and other customized landing tabs, and will force all Facebook pages to have roughly the same layout, look and feel. Whether you feel these landing tabs are effective or not, and whether you had invested anything in this or not. It’s difficult enough for small businesses to engage with their fans on Facebook. Result: Re-designing your look and feel to fit what Facebook wants, costing you precious time and money. Rethinking how you execute your strategy. And the rules behind the new timeliness for pages can be confusing and lead to frustration.
Your small business doesn’t own any direct contact with your audience – If you wanted to e-mail all your Twitter followers, all your Facebook fans, or all your Google+ people who’ve circled you, can you do it? Maybe it is possible, but you can’t do it on the platform, and you certainly can’t do it easily. Where are those e-mail addresses stored anyway, and who has access to them? Why the platform you’re building on, of course. Result: No way of getting your message into everyone’s hand at once, losing out on the spontaneity that could happen after contacting several thousand people at once, and possible no chance of getting them your message.
Your search engine rankings will be lessened – If you don’t build your own small business website, you are typically limited to your profile page for other social media sites as something that ranks in the search engines. Building your own site means many articles can rank well in the search engines, as well as your pages may show up well. Do you want 1 listing – or 10 or more? Result: Less chance of being found for longer tail keywords. Less control over your listings. And ultimately, less customers doing business with you.
Your account may be suspended for doing something unintentional – Last week on one of the Facebook pages I manage, I wanted to invite all the people on my client’s mailing list (some 1600 people) to like the Facebook business page. I verified everything was done correctly, I clicked the button to import the list, and then I left my computer alone so I could attend another meeting. I tried to log into my own Facebook account from my smart phone, and I kept failing. I tried for about 15 minutes, each time failing with no specific error message. Finally, I decided instead of the Facebook app on my phone, I used the brower on my phone to get an error message that took me through a series of steps to reactivate my account. And then I realized what I did: I had invited all 1600 of my client’s customers to be my friend on Facebook, instead of asking them to like the business page. Thankfully my account was re-enabled so I didn’t lose all my friends and fans and administration of all the Facebook pages I work with my clients on, but this could have been a DISASTER!
I certainly didn’t do it on purpose, but if Facebook didn’t have a way to do this via their website, how would I have ever done this? Who would I call? Just in case, I looked all over for a customer service number to call for Facebook, and I found 650-543-4800 with this for how to reach a live person: Facebook does not currently offer telephone support. You can press 0 to leave a message, but not sure what that does. Result: Complete loss of all contact with your customers for 2 hours (like me) or forever (like others).
While these aren’t all the reasons for not building on someone else’s platform, I hope you can see there are plenty of risks in doing so at the expense of building a website.
What are some of the risks YOU see behind not building on your own website? And why do brands neglect their websites?
YOUR TURN: Leave a comment here (or on Gregg’s post) and let us know what you think, what questions you have, and anything else we can help you with.
And stay tuned: Next Saturday, Gregg and I will be offering insights into how your business can effectively use its website instead of just building on someone else’s platform.