This question probably gets asked a lot in the internet professional world, but I feel that it is a valid question, especially since it is becoming “the norm” for organizations to have profiles on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
My officemates and I had the discussion a few weeks ago about this impact on the online presence of businesses. One person ventured to say that soon enough, some businesses will no longer need a website to advertise their services, but could simply conduct all online interactions via social media.
At first, I was adamant about the importance of a website for a professional, well-run organization, but for some, they may actually thrive if they put all their online efforts into social media instead of their lackluster website, which would cost thousands of dollars to make it usable and attractive to potential customers. Social media profiles need little to no styling (most don’t even allow it, save for the Twitter background and profile pictures) and follow the same format of the rest of the profiles.
And while this may seem like it would hinder the ability to stand out from the crowd, it actually makes it easier to quickly replace the website that gives your organization a bad name. Great creativity comes from working with what you’ve been given- which means having great, clear copy and a concise, professional message.
However, it’s important to remember that using social media to replace a website would only work best for some industries– the ones that depend on the community and its people in order to make it work. Non-profit organizations, for example, are some of the best businesses to utilize social media to its full potential. They can solicit donations via Twitter and a PayPal link and explain their mission statement and goals via a Facebook Page.
Other industries that use websites merely as a “placeholder” but that don’t offer any unique or useful services online (like an e-commerce store or online banking) would also benefit from cutting their failing website and turning to social media.
With Facebook allowing personalized URLs (ie http://www.facebook.com/kelsey7) and social media sites like Tumblr offering a website-like profile layout, it’s easier than provide short URLs to customers. You can also use a social profile aggregator that lists all your profiles on one page. I really like http://card.ly and Extendr (my profile is here: http://wonderwall7.extendr.com/)
As many organizations realize the value of social media for their business, they may also begin to realize how their website pales in comparison with their popular facebook or twitter page. Having a website just isn’t enough anymore– businesses must now acknowledge that the internet is more than just static HTML. Businesses can now engage customers online– something that shouldn’t be ignored.
Image courtesy of: http://battersblog.blogspot.com/2005_03_01_archive.html