If Your Social Media Game is Strong, Do You Still Need a Website?

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True or False: In the Post-Web 2.0 Wasteland, there are no Websites. Only Social.

If you have a website, you need a social media strategy. But does it follow that if your social is really great, you don’t need a website? There are two main parties in the debate over whether social presence can replace websites, and we’re going to take a look at both of them today.

Option 1: If You Do Social Right, You No Longer Need a Website

Conventional wisdom says that websites—designing, building, and maintaining—can get expensive. Social media, meanwhile, is taking an ever bigger slice out of the SEO pie. In the restaurant world, for example, the first pages to turn up on a casual search are Yelp and Google reviews. When the top slot for your most valuable search string leads to a @dril post on twitter, well…
Websites start to feel a little Web 2.0.

And then there are companies that have pulled themselves out of sales slumps with the right social media approach. Anne Jurack, a programmer at Brella, pointed toward Denny’s—which boosted its customer base significantly just by hiring the right person to run their social media profiles and giving them free rein to interact with their audience. In eleven hours, one post to the Denny’s Tumblr made over 1,400 impressions, and those are just the ones that inspired a like, reply, or reblog.

Plus, sites like Facebook give you a built-in layout that everyone knows how to navigate, a means of interacting and moderating discussion, and a repository for basic information that everyone knows how to find. In a world where SEO algorithms are geared toward the consumer, rather than the producers, it follows naturally that anything a website can do, social can do faster and better.

In 2009 the agency Boone Oakley did an experiment. They dispensed with their website for a year. In its place, they put up a series of interconnected YouTube videos that showcased their work and their company vision. The effect was neat: all the presence of an informational website, with none of the overhead of a website. Instead, they connected directly to their audience via the YouTube platform, and made themselves accessible to new clients by changing their account name to include their phone number.

The results of Boone Oakley’s experiment? 1.3 million views since its launch and an overwhelmingly positive response from the public. The novelty of a whiteboard-animated flying shark brought front and center was not lost. Sounds like you only need a strong social presence nowadays, no site required.
Boone Oakley put their regular website back up at the end of the year. During the course of the experiment, they had their domain forward to the YouTube video-site.

What does a website do for you today?

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Option 2: Even if You Do Social Right, You Still Need a Website

It’s a legitimizing factor, like a good entry in the yellow pages was 30 years ago. A digital business card that never needs reprinting. Also, if you don’t have a website, you’re the weird one.

Anthony Biondi, Brella’s Director of Programming, posed the question, “Can you think of any kind of business who wouldn’t need a website?”

Brella staff came back with a number of answers, covering a few different themes. Illegal business ventures were a big one—and those do exist largely in a social sphere on the Deep Web. Other answers included “too expensive,” “businesses with no interest in growth,” “you’re Amish,” “businesses that oppose, on principle, things like ‘screen time,’” and, “is this a joke?”

As the emails came in, Biondi ticked off reasons why each kind instance did in fact need a website.

Reason Rebuttal
Too expensive Domain and hosting are cheap, with ready to use CMS’s like WordPress pre-installed. Anyone can afford the cost of entry, when domains are $10 a year and hosting is $10 a month.
Not interested in growth A site will help you maintain your current business size, so that outgoing clients are replaced with new ones at a constant rate.
You’re Amish Are you selling something? Quilts, furniture, cheese? DIY Barns? Your customers will look for you online as well as on roadside billboards.
Business opposes screen time So you’re a business that favors reducing screen time—that doesn’t mean you don’t need a website. It does mean that the kind of website you want is pared down. Something informative rather than interactive.
Illegal Okay, fair, you probably don’t want to be the proud owner of buycontrabandnow.com

 

Chris Flores, an After Effects editor here at Brella, found the answer we were looking for:

If a company’s client base is strong enough…they can maybe forego a website.

“Bingo,” Anthony said. “Who doesn’t need a website? Coke. Everyone knows Coke. Uncontacted peoples would recognize the shape of the bottle and the red swoop. They’re so big, their brand is so pervasive, that losing their website won’t hurt them, especially with a social presence to fill the vacuum left by retiring their site. Literally everyone else—the ROI on a website, as a complement to their social strategy, can’t do anything but help them. ”

So What Do WE Think?

Everyone needs a website, but not all websites have the same needs. No matter what kind of site you need, a business with no website doesn’t really look like a business at all. That’s the crux of it: A website gives you validity. It gives you a home on the internet, and a place for Google to point to.

Some businesses need their social face to take a bigger place in their business strategy than their website. For those businesses, a simple site that acts as a landing pad for their social presence is better. Most businesses? They need the control over their portfolios and the freedom to change the site look and feel to reflect their brand.

Even Coke has a website, and they’re so big and recognizable that they could let that site drop off the face of the internet and people in rural Alabama would still ask, “What kinda Coke ya want?” The ROI on a website, especially one that doesn’t need the back end of an Amazon or a Buzzfeed, is just too high to skip it.

CERN put up the first website ever in 1992, and Brella has been making websites for almost as long. We know exactly what kind of value the right website can bring to your business, and we can help you determine whether you need a big complicated site or a compact little landing page. Whatever you decide, we want to build that site for you. And we can integrate that website with the right kind of social media campaign to fit your needs.

Drop us a note if you’d like to learn more about our web capabilities.

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