Connecting You with the Latest Marketing Tips and Trends.
Should marketers focus their efforts into driving traffic to the company website or to its social media platform? The answer eludes even the savviest marketers. After all, in today’s world a company doesn’t exist unless it has a website. The first place people turn when they’re on the hunt for a product or a service is a search engine. If your website isn’t there, you’ll lose customers to the companies that do make their presence known.
But other marketing experts point out that websites aren’t the end-all-be-all that they once were. Why work so hard to bring potential customers to a static website when social media has taken over the online world? Facebook alone has 1.23 billion monthly active users, 874 million mobile users, and 728 million daily users worldwide. Twitter and Instagram are close behind, with 271 million and 200 million monthly active users respectively. YouTube, Reddit, and Tumblr are close on their heels. If you can learn how to tap into the immense potential for exposure that social media provides, you won’t even need to bother with a website, much less devote an inordinate amount of time to trying to get people to go visit it.
It’s not as simple as that. In an ideal world, marketers have unlimited access to the time, energy, and resources it takes to effectively manage both website and social media outreach. In the real world, budget, manpower, and the number of hours in a day limit those resources. We have to discern which available marketing channels work best for our brands and why, and put the majority of our efforts there.
Position 1: Why it’s better to spend your resources on your website
One of the most important reasons to spend your energy creating an audience for your website is that a website helps you built a database of users’ names and contact info. Think about it: someone who goes to your website does so intentionally—you have something specific they need or want.
One of the best things of all about having your website as your main communication tool is that YOU control your company’s messaging, unlike social media sites that can be quickly kidnapped by wayward users. Who can forget the epic fail or the McDonald’s #McDstories debacle? Twitter users absconded with McDonald’s attempt to create warm fuzzies with the #McDstories hashtag. In the promotion, users were encouraged to share their good memories of the fast food behemoth. Instead, Twitter users used the hashtag #McDstories to share such witticisms as “So PETA and McDonalds got into it today. Didn’t know there was real meat at McDonalds #McDstories” and “#McDstories I lose 50 lbs. in 6 mos. After I quit eating at McDonalds.” The New York Police Department, in a misguided attempt to “friendly-up” their image, made the same mistake with their #myNYPD. With a website, those sorts of challenges aren’t even on the radar.
But one of the negative aspects about websites is that they are static and don’t actively engage users in real time like a social media platform does. Website users are passive. They are reading a page, they are learning about products, they are scanning the company blog, but they are not interacting with the brand in an active way.
Research also shows that website activity is trending slightly downward. This may be caused by a number of factors, from changes to Google’s algorithms (the September 2013 launch of Google’s Panda caused an immediate loss of web traffic to many sites). It could also be due to marketers who are not managing the websites well. Websites need frequent attention. They need to be constantly updated. Keywords need to be continually re-evaluated to ensure that SEO is fully optimized. With social media sites, this isn’t an issue because the users drive the interaction—and as long as the company is engaged with its social media users, the site stays relevant.
Position 2: Why it’s better to spend your resources on social media outreach
Social networking websites encourage individuals to interact with one another and build relationships. In the universe of marketing and branding, building relationships is absolutely essential. This personal interaction instills a feeling of loyalty into customers because it feels more authentic than traditional outbound advertising like television ads. Social media allows anyone and everyone to express and share an opinion or an idea about a company or a product. They become a part of the marketing team—almost like good old-fashioned “word of mouth” advertising.
Here’s something to consider, too: According to Experian Marketing Services, in the week ending October 18, Facebook users worldwide jumped online 2,521,997,505 times—you read that right, over 2 billion times! According to the data, 60.46% of the time, users shared something on their site. The second most popular social media site, YouTube, garnered 732,177,589 visits in the same week and users shared 18.12% of content they viewed. That’s awesome potential for “word-of-mouth” advertising!
Plus, sites like Facebook give you the ability to integrate your other social media activities by creating tabs for your Twitter profile, YouTube channel, and others. On YouTube, you can collect all your company’s videos and create your own YouTube channel. If you’re in need of stats to track the effectiveness of your social media marketing outreach, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube all aggregate your audience visits and provide valuable information about engagement and page views that allow you to tweak your marketing plan as needed.
The Results: Why it’s best to invest your resources in relationships
Ultimately, as a marketer your number one priority is to build awareness, sales, and allegiance for your brands by developing satisfying relationships with consumers that benefit both the consumer and the organization. Social media is the perfect tool for that. Websites are a less interactive way to create relationships, but they are still important, as long as you devote the time to make sure your site is useful, updated, and responsive.
When asked by clients where they should invest their precious marketing funds, Phil Saifer, President of integrated marketing agency Vertical Marketing Network responds, “Websites are your company’s calling card, while social media is your brand’s marketing connection. Depending on the brand itself, the competitive set and situational analysis, we find our recommendation most often swings in the direction of social media marketing working harder to produce register rings and loyalty.”
We would like to know your thoughts. If you have an opinion or insight, please share in the comments section below.
Brought to you by Vertical Marketing Network, a Leading Integrated Marketing Agency. Screen captures intended as illustrative examples only. Registered trademarks and logos are the property of their respective owners.