Then and Now; the Role of Your Website in the era of Social Media

Engagement on the Web: Then and Now | by Derek DeVries

Ragan’s PR Junkie reported on an Intellimon/Bradford University study that concluded Facebook and Twitter suck at driving traffic to business websites.  Some of the key findings of The Traffic Report study:

  • 29 % of respondents said Facebook is effective for driving traffic to their websites.
  • 27 % of respondents said Twitter is effective for driving traffic to their websites.

This makes perfect sense.

The role of a website has changed dramatically in the past few years as social networking has absorbed most of the disparate means of communicating for which people flocked to the Internet.  Back then you used to have to use a variety of different sites/services to get what you needed; chat here, IM there, message boards here, media sharing there.

Now most people can get pretty much whatever they need in one place (like Facebook); so the incentive to leave the warm, safe, comfortable confines it provides has to be pretty high.  Too high for most business websites (which are usually just digital pamphlets / catalogs) to provide.

This trend will likely only accelerate (facilitated by improvements in the technologies that power social networking sites).  Contrary to the hyperbolic cover of Wired Magazine, the “Web” isn’t dead – and it won’t die.  It will have a place for the needs that can’t be met by the social networking behemoths.

If you’re wondering where to invest your finite budget, here are some points to consider:

  1. Developing your own site means worrying about ADA compliance, and compatibility with mobile devices.
    Social networking platforms have this baked in already.
  2. Developing your own site means you’ll need a compelling draw to bring people to it.
    Social networking platforms already have the people.
  3. Developing your own site means answering a variety of technical and aesthetic questions, the results of which may or may not matter to your audience depending on how they view your site (if it’s through an aggregator; your thoughtful decisions are irrelevant).
    Social networking platforms answer the questions for you.
  4. Developing your own site means engaging, interactive content is expensive and time-consuming to produce.
    Social networking platforms use open architecture so you can save time/money building on an existing infrastructure.

…and so on.

There’s still a place for a well-designed website, but you need to step back a moment and consider whether your situation is one that warrants it.  Increasingly you may be able to get away with a boxed or turnkey solution for your website – and focus more of your energy on social media.

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