The pro-using-a-Facebook-Page-instead argument:
The nice thing about Facebook is that the "social" part is integrated already into it's system. Afterall the very reason we post content online is to get others to consume it. We have direct access to about 1 billion people right off the bat with the click of a post button our information is fed into the system. Similarly the larger players in the business world show us that they can harness their own sub sections of this billion.
Coca Cola – 50 million FB fans
Starbucks – 30 million FB fans
Nike – 10 million FB fans
Even Dora the Explorer has 1 million FB fans
The fact is this enables companies to harness the power of an existing network and without much effort.
- Facebook is a website that is entirely FREE of hosting and server costs.
- With just 25 likes you can get a unique URL’s for individual landing pages.
- Although you will need a third party eCom setup you can upload your own product catalog with detailed descriptions and get feedback and interaction from fans.
- You can throw an event or show presentations.
- Run a contest or a survey.
- Host a blog of sorts.
- If you want you can buy targeted ads.
- FB is integrated with so many other services and technologies - I can manage my page for free from my phone.
- There is pre-existing app database to access.
- Finally there is some gratification from seeing my likes increase and watching others' interaction on my Page.
However the fact remains that the best practice and ultimately what is most advisable is to integrate & optimize multiple online properties to gain a net affect. If you have the budget and are interested in utilizing both, having the website as the hub from which other spokes like Facebook radiate, is the best approach. Start using Facebook to drive traffic to your website. Drive traffic to the company blog(s) on the website by offering an excerpt of the first paragraph with a link to the article in Facebook update. Provide links to your other online properties on Facebook such as Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest and more.
Capture emails on Facebook when fans come as well as on your website. Create a Facebook competition that requires finding information on your website. Tell your fans about a special offer for which they can find information on your website. Integrate e-mail marketing with social media by linking the Facebook Page on your newsletters. Use a Facebook eCom store that takes your users to your own eCommerce store.
Don’t get caught up in the hype though and feel obliged to use Facebook or any other social tool for that matter. Social media is most definitely here to stay and is increasing in purpose and use but it is still simply another tool in your marketing arsenal.
* * *
And so we circle back around to the big question - can I just have a Facebook Page instead of a website? The answer is possibly both yes and no depending on your situation. To cut a long story short the likelihood is that Facebook Pages, more than likely are suitable for lower end, small businesses. Restaurants or coffee shops might decide they only want to display their address, phone number and menu. One-man realtors might feel their marketing budget is better focused on entry level PPC or optimizing their local Google offerings. If you have just written a book and want to get it out there to your public, perhaps a Facebook page is the way to do that. For companies with less to "say" or a smaller budget, the Facebook page might be a good option - perhaps leaving room for them to invest in other marketing methodologies.
Sports stores, banking institutions, credit unions, eCommerce entities, law firms, companies with a need to more actively market themselves might feel somewhat limited by what a Facebook Page has to offer. As such creating their own freshly branded, content management system (CMS) enabled website to act as their primary hub might be more appropriate.
Facebook certainly has opportunities. Adding a CMS, the ability to add and edit pages, introduce better blogging capabilities, easier widget creation, manipulation of layout and perhaps cloud storage not to mention better integration of SEO services and other marketing strategies all would give Facebook a big push in the right direction. It seems very possible that we will see companies like Facebook evolving and growing in this direction in the future to provide better offerings in this regard. Certainly there will be a greater synergy between mobile, social and marketing strategies that will pull the need for stand-alone websites and the Facebook Page closer together. It is more likely that this rift between the two or rather the question as to which we should choose will essentially disappear as they merge and become one.