If you read much of my content, you know that I love working with small business owners.  You also know I often talk about marketing on a tight budget.  I fully believe it can be done.  When it comes to your online presence, you may be wondering if there are ways to keep cost down.  If you are thinking about keeping your budget lean by using a Facebook page – or another social media page – in place of a website, read on.  I am about to create some chaos in the next two paragraphs!

I am here to tell you that websites and social media have two completely different purposes in life.  One is not a replacement for the other.  If that wasn’t the answer you wanted, I am going to expand on the differences here.

Websites and social media have two completely different purposes in life. #smallbusiness #smallbiz #smb #entrepreneur Click To Tweet

Before I do so, I also want to share an opinion that some marketing experts may disagree with.  I don’t believe that every business needs to have a social media presence.  Nor do I believe that every business needs to have a website.  I will unpack this in a moment.

What I am saying is that, as a business owner, you are not trapped into Facebook and a website.  You get to make decisions.   But Facebook does not equal a website, and you should understand why it doesn’t.

You don’t own your social media pages.  It is a simple truth and an incredibly important distinction for you to make.  No matter how strong you think Facebook or any other social media platform is, it could go away tomorrow.  It could be glitchy for a week.  Their leadership could make a decision to take the platform or the format in a new direction that doesn’t jive with your business.  Your audience could go somewhere else.

You don’t own your social media pages. #business #smallbusiness #smallbiz #smb #entrepreneur #biztips #marketing Click To Tweet

There are a lot of reasons why your preferred platform today could stop being effective for you.  None of those reasons are in your control.  It is a risky choice to let someone else’s platform have all the control and all the information about your leads.

The point of your website is that it IS under your control.  Or, hopefully you have arranged it so that it is.  Your website is a tool that you can ensure will always be there.  The more content you add to it, the more value it has to your business over time.   The more people you draw to it, the more you can attract.

Facebook is one way you could draw people to your website.  I hope you have many.  The more you diversify the ways you can get people to your website, the less risky your marketing plan is.  No matter how you attract leads, the website itself will continue to be useful, because you are ensuring that it stays up to date.

Some businesses are using a social media platform instead of a website because it is free to set up the social media page.  That’s great that it is free, but you are building a house of cards.  You may be doing a lot of work to create or share content, but driving traffic to that content does not improve an overall search ranking in the way that you can do with your website.  You are limited to the features of the platform, the rules of the platform.  In the case of Facebook, you are also subject to any system-wide technical glitches, any shareholder-influenced business decisions, and even the dreaded Facebook jail when they think you’ve done something wrong (read here if you aren’t familiar with Facebook jail).

Facebook is a tool that works well WITH a website, but is not a replacement for a website.

Now, I also don’t entirely agree with the point of view that many marketing experts share that you absolutely have to be on social media and absolutely must have a website.  It is possible to market a business without a website or social media.

It is possible to market a business without a website or social media. #business #smallbusiness #smallbiz #smb #entrepreneur #biztips Click To Tweet

You need to be in places where your target markets are, sharing your message.  As a business owner, it is your responsibility to find them and get in front of them.  Part of this involves deciding what methods are going to be viable to do consistently for the duration of your business.

Some of the most successful business owners I know have built a thriving pipeline with business cards, a cell phone, and a solid network of referral sources.  That’s a thing, and if that is your thing, do it.  This is just one example, and the key is that there are many ways to market offline.

If there is value for your business to be online, be thoughtful about where you build a presence.  I do recommend creating something that lasts – a website – and setting it up in a way that you own it.  In the long run it will be worthwhile to have built something that has permanence and can grow with your business.  The content you create can be most effective for you if you store it on a website.

If you want to be on social media, go for it.  Social media is a great way to generate new leads, warm old ones, and keep driving them back to your website to see all the great content you have.

So if you were wondering if you can use a Facebook page instead of a website, I hope this helps you understand that they are two different things.

For more about how to use social media in a way that will convert your leads to your website, you’ll want to read this tip about Converting Your Social Media Audience.