Note that I said “website,” not simply a web presence, like a Facebook business page, for example. I know when you’re first starting out, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done to produce whatever your food product is. Marketing? Ha! Who has time?
It may be tempting to just set up a quick FB page and start posting about your business. After all, you may rationalize, I’ve got to start somewhere. FB makes it easy to set up a business page, and I can get all my friends to like it – instant audience, right?
Here’s the issue – you don’t control Facebook. They can change their policies or requirements at any time. A lot of folks built great business pages a few years ago when FB first introduced them. In the beginning, you could count on people who liked your page seeing most of your content. Then the percentage of your ‘fans’ that could see you posted gradually decreased until I think it’s down to 5% or so.
Think about that. You created all the content – you one way or another – had people come to your FB page, like what they saw and reward you with a “like” or follow, indicating they would have some interest in seeing what you had to see in the future. You created the audience, but FB changed their algorithm to decrease your effectiveness in marketing.
Why? Well, because FB has moved to a pay-to-play model – ads are where it’s at these days. And they’re not the only social media channel thinking this way. And I’m certainly not saying you should not have a presence on FB – a lot of the people you want to reach are out there, and reachable – just not for free.
You may hear what I’ve described as the term “digital sharecropping.” It harkens back to farm sharecropping, a field workers didn’t own the land they worked on; they were paid a share of the crops produced on their portion of land, but never had any real equity or ownership. In this case, you’ve helped FB increase their overall audience in return for some space for your business page.
You need your own site, your own URL, that you own. You will control the content, no one can change the rules on you, and your website can represent the best of your business.
Another huge risk? The platform you choose may just go out of business or become obsolete – there’s a long list of latest-and-greatest social media platforms that have simply disappeared off the social landscape.
Let’s keep Facebook, Twitter, pick-your-favorite-channel doing what they do best – providing us the opportunity to connect with our audiences and drive traffic back to our website – you know, the website we own!
Yes, it will take you either more time, or more money, to set up your own website. But it will be yours, and you can scale it as you grow, modify it to reflect a growing business, a changing mission, or new services/products.
And no one can take it away – well, at least as long as you pay your domain renewal each year!