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Websites vs Social Media: Which Is Best for Your Small Business?

Desktop with laptop, phone and mug of coffee

“Why have a website when you can manage my business on social media?”  This is a good question asked by many small business owners alike and one which doesn’t have a straightforward answer. we are going to tackle the subject of websites vs social media.

In today’s digital landscape, businesses have an abundance of online platforms to choose from when establishing their online presence. 

Two of the most popular options are websites and social media. But which is best for your small business? Is one more effective than the other? 

In this blog post, we’ll explore the key differences between websites and social media, discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each, and help you determine which one, or both, is the right choice for your business.

Websites

Let’s be real if you run a business and you don’t already have some form of online real estate then what have you been doing? 

This could be anything from a one-page website to a large eCommerce store, the likelihood is that you already have a website for your business. If you don’t then this is your sign to get one!

According to SEO.ai, “Google processes approximately 99,000 search queries every second. This translates to 8.5 billion searches per day and approximately 2 trillion global searches per year. The average person conducts between three and four searches each day.”

This is staggering, and it is no wonder that websites have been the cornerstone of building an online business presence for decades. They can be a central hub to showcase your business’s products or services.

✅ What Are Websites Good For?

  1. Complete Control Over Your Content: Websites give you full control over the content you publish. You can design the layout, choose the colours, and create a unique user experience that aligns with your brand.
  2. Professionalism and Credibility: A well-designed website lends credibility to your business. It can serve as a digital business card, providing information about your company, your team, and your services.
  3. SEO Opportunities: Websites allow for search engine optimization (SEO), which can help improve your visibility on platforms like Google. This can lead to organic traffic and potential customers finding your business through search.
  4. eCommerce Capabilities: Websites can also serve as an online store, allowing you to sell products or services directly to customers. This can open up new revenue streams for your business.
  5. Long-Term Asset: A website is a long-term asset that you own. It doesn’t rely on third-party platforms, so you won’t be affected by changes to social media algorithms or policies.

❌ Disadvantages of Websites

  1. Initial Investment: Building a website can be costly and time-consuming.
  2. Maintenance: Websites require ongoing maintenance and updates.
  3. Limited Social Interaction: Websites are less interactive than social media platforms.

Social Media

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn have become essential tools for businesses to connect with their audiences. 

The number of social media users continues to grow yearly, with 4.8 billion social media users worldwide (59.9% of the global population), according to Search Engine Journal.

With its ease of accessibility and low start-up costs, social media can often be a go-to platform for small businesses looking to promote their businesses. But should they replace websites altogether?

✅ What Is Social Media Good For?

  1. Direct Interaction with Customers: Social media allows for real-time interaction with customers. You can respond to comments, answer questions, and build relationships with your audience.
  2. Brand Awareness and Reach: Social media is a powerful tool for increasing brand awareness. You can reach a large audience quickly, and with the right strategy, your content can go viral, exponentially increasing your reach. Of course, with the ever-changing algorithms and competitive landscape of social media, going viral and reaching a large audience is much easier said than done.
  3. Cost-Effective Marketing: Social media offers cost-effective marketing options. You can run targeted ads to reach specific demographics, making it easier to connect with potential customers.
  4. Community Building: Social media fosters a sense of community. You can create groups, host events, and encourage user-generated content, all of which can strengthen customer loyalty.

❌ Disadvantages of Social Media

  1. Third-Party Dependency: You rely on third-party platforms, which can change policies or algorithms at any time.
  2. Short-Term Content: Social media content has a shorter lifespan and can get lost in the feed.
  3. Competitive: You have to fight for the user’s attention among the thousands of other businesses competing in the same space.  

You can download our social media template for free here

Do You Need Both, or Will One Do?

The answer to this question depends on your business goals and resources, but We recommend a combination of both websites and social media as the ideal approach. 

Here’s why:

  1. Complementary Platforms: Websites and social media serve different purposes but can work together to create a comprehensive online presence. Your website can serve as the central hub for your business, while social media can drive traffic to your website and engage with customers.
  2. Multiple Touchpoints: By having both a website and a social media presence, you create multiple touchpoints for customers to find you. This increases your chances of attracting new customers and retaining existing ones.
  3. Flexibility and Adaptability: With both a website and social media, you have the flexibility to adapt to changing trends and customer preferences. If one platform becomes less effective, you can rely on the other to maintain your online presence.
  4. Cost-Effective Marketing: Using a combination of websites and social media allows you to leverage cost-effective marketing strategies. You can use social media ads to drive traffic to your website, where you can convert visitors into customers.

Cost of Creation

The cost to create a website or establish a social media presence can vary significantly based on the scope of your business and the level of professionalism you seek.

Website

Creating a website generally requires an upfront investment, Here’s what to consider:

  • Domain and Hosting Fees: You’ll need to purchase a domain name (which can range from £10 to £50 per year) and pay for web hosting (typically between £3 and £30 per month, depending on your needs).
  • Design and Development Costs: A simple website built with a DIY website builder like Wix or Squarespace can cost a few dollars per month, while a custom-designed website built by a professional developer can range from £1,000 to £10,000 or more.
  • Maintenance Costs: Websites require regular maintenance, updates, and security measures. This can add to the ongoing cost, especially if you hire a webmaster or agency.

Social Media

Social media platforms are generally free to use, which can be appealing to small businesses on a tight budget. However, there may be costs associated with:

  • Content Creation: You may need to hire graphic designers, videographers, or content creators to produce high-quality social media content.
  • Advertising and Promotion: While social media accounts are free, paid advertising is often necessary to reach a broader audience. Costs vary based on the platform and your targeting strategy, but they can start as low as a few pounds per day.
  • Management and Scheduling Tools: To streamline social media management, you may need to invest in tools like Hootsuite or Buffer, which typically cost between £10 and £100 per month.

Ownership Freedom: Who’s in Control?

Ownership freedom is an important consideration when choosing between websites and social media.

Websites

With a website, you have complete ownership and control over your online presence. This includes:

  • Content Control: You decide what content to publish and how to present it. There’s no risk of sudden changes to algorithms or platform policies.
  • Brand Identity: You can design your website to reflect your unique brand identity, with complete control over design, layout, and functionality.
  • Independence: Since you own your domain and hosting, you’re not dependent on third-party platforms, reducing the risk of losing access to your content or followers.

Social Media

Social media platforms are owned and operated by third-party companies. This can impact your level of control:

  • Platform Dependency: Social media accounts are subject to the rules and algorithms of the platform. Changes to these can affect your reach and visibility.
  • Content Restrictions: Social media platforms may restrict certain types of content or enforce community guidelines, limiting your freedom to express yourself.
  • Risk of Account Suspension: If you violate platform policies, your social media account can be suspended or banned, leading to the loss of your audience and content.

The Trust Factor: Building Credibility

Websites offer a sense of professionalism and long-term credibility, while social media provides opportunities for real-time engagement and user-generated content. Together, they can create a strong trust factor for your business.

Websites

Websites are generally seen as more trustworthy and credible. Here’s why:

  • Professionalism: A well-designed website with a custom domain lends an air of professionalism, indicating that your business is established and legitimate.
  • Transparency: Websites allow you to provide detailed information about your business, including your team, location, and customer testimonials.
  • Security: With proper security measures, websites can offer a safe environment for transactions and customer data.

Social Media

Social media can also build trust, but differently:

  • Customer Engagement: Social media allows for direct interaction with customers, helping to build relationships and foster trust through consistent communication.
  • User-Generated Content: Customer reviews and user-generated content can add credibility to your brand on social media.
  • Real-Time Feedback: Social media enables real-time feedback, allowing you to address customer concerns quickly and publicly, which can enhance trust.

Connection with the Customers: Building Relationships

Connecting with customers is essential for business growth. 

Websites offer structured and comprehensive information, making them a reliable source for customers to learn about your business. Social media, on the other hand, provides real-time communication and community-building opportunities, allowing you to connect with customers on a more personal level.

Websites

Websites are often used to establish a solid foundation for customer relationships:

  • Comprehensive Information: Websites allow you to provide in-depth information about your products, services, and business values, helping customers understand your brand.
  • Contact and Support Options: With contact forms, chatbots, or customer support sections, websites offer multiple ways for customers to reach out for assistance or inquiries.
  • Email Marketing Integration: Websites can integrate with email marketing platforms, enabling you to build email lists and maintain ongoing communication with customers.

Social Media

Social media is designed for interaction and engagement, making it a powerful tool for customer connections:

  • Real-Time Communication: Social media enables direct and immediate interaction with customers through comments, messages, and live sessions.
  • Community Building: Social media platforms allow you to build communities, such as Facebook groups, where customers can engage with each other and your business.
  • Content Sharing: Social media encourages customers to share your content, helping to expand your reach and create a sense of community.

Learning Curve and Skill Requirements

When choosing between websites and social media for your small business, the learning curve—or the amount of knowledge and skill required—is a crucial factor to consider. 

A steep learning curve can be a barrier for small business owners who are new to digital marketing, while a gentler curve may encourage exploration and growth.

Understanding the Learning Curve: Websites vs. Social Media

The learning curve refers to the time and effort needed to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to use a platform effectively. Let’s look at how the learning curve differs between websites and social media.

Websites

Creating and maintaining a website involves several technical aspects. Here’s what to consider:

1. Technical Knowledge

Building a website often requires technical skills. You need to understand basic concepts like domains, hosting, and website structure. If you’re using website builders like Wix or Squarespace, the learning curve is gentler, with drag-and-drop interfaces and pre-designed templates. However, if you want a custom-built website, you’ll need knowledge of coding languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript or hire a professional developer.

DIY builders are great but the best way to describe them is like an iceberg. You may think you know everything you need to, but that is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’. Web development is a vast and technical field that takes time and research to understand if you want to create a successful website yourself.

2. Design and User Experience

Websites require design skills to create an aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly experience. This involves understanding layout, colour schemes, typography, and user navigation. Learning design principles can be time-consuming but is essential for creating a professional website.

3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is crucial for a website’s success, and it has its own learning curve. You need to understand keywords, metadata, backlinks, and other factors that influence search engine rankings. Achieving good SEO results takes time and ongoing effort.

4. Maintenance and Security

Websites require regular maintenance to ensure they function smoothly and are secure. This involves updating software, backing up data, and implementing security measures to protect against cyber threats.

Understanding important concepts such as user experience, and design go a long way from just having a website to having a successful website that adds value to your business. 

Social Media

Social media platforms are designed to be user-friendly, but they come with their own set of skills and knowledge requirements:

1. Platform Familiarity

Each social media platform has unique features and functionalities. Learning how to use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn effectively requires time and experimentation. You’ll need to understand posting, commenting, messaging, and engaging with your audience.

2. Content Creation

Creating engaging content for social media involves creativity and skill. This can include graphic design, photography, videography, and copywriting. You’ll need to learn what content resonates with your audience and how to maintain consistency in posting.

3. Social Media Marketing

To maximize your reach on social media, you’ll need to understand social media marketing strategies. This involves learning about targeted advertising, analytics, and engagement metrics. Running effective social media campaigns requires knowledge of audience targeting and budget management.

4. Community Management

Social media is inherently interactive, which means you’ll need to manage customer interactions, respond to comments, and handle customer service issues. This can require strong communication skills and patience.

Comparing the Learning Curve

Websites generally have a steeper learning curve due to the technical aspects, design considerations, SEO, and maintenance requirements. While website builders can simplify the process, creating a custom website often requires more advanced skills.

Social media platforms are designed to be more accessible, with a gentler learning curve. However, mastering social media marketing and community management can be complex and time-consuming, especially as algorithms and trends change.

Finding the Right Approach

When deciding between websites and social media, consider your current skill set, the resources available to you, and your willingness to learn. Here’s a practical approach to finding the right balance:

1. Start Simple

If you’re new to digital marketing, start with a simple website using a website builder. This allows you to establish a basic online presence without a steep learning curve. At the same time, create accounts on a couple of key social media platforms to begin engaging with your audience.

2. Invest in Learning

Invest time in learning the skills you need to improve your website and social media presence. This can involve taking online courses, reading industry blogs, or joining digital marketing communities. Consider hiring experts to handle complex tasks like SEO or social media advertising if you lack the expertise.

3. Focus on Your Strengths

Identify your strengths and focus on platforms that align with them. If you’re more comfortable with design and creativity, social media may be a better fit. If you’re more technically inclined, you might prefer working on a website.

4. Seek Professional Help

If the learning curve is daunting, consider hiring professionals to assist with website development, SEO, or social media marketing. This allows you to focus on your core business activities while ensuring a high-quality online presence.

Conclusion

In today’s world, it is difficult to compete for customers attention. The marketing is flooded with Social Media accounts and websites that are all competing for attention. So no matter which direction you decide to go down the most important thing to consider is what are you going to be able to devote your time and effort to. 

the decision between websites and social media depends on your business’s unique needs and goals. While websites offer control, credibility, and SEO benefits, social media provides direct interaction, brand awareness, and cost-effective marketing. Most small businesses find that a combination of both platforms is the best approach to maximize their online presence and reach.

To get started, consider your budget, target audience, and business objectives. If you’re just starting out, you might focus on building a simple website and establishing a presence on a couple of key social media platforms. As your business grows, you can expand your online strategy to include more social media platforms and enhance your website’s functionality.

For more information on building a successful online presence, consider consulting with digital marketing experts or visiting industry-related websites like HubSpot or Neil Patel’s blog.

With the right balance of websites and social media, you’ll be well-positioned to attract new customers, engage with your audience, and grow your small business.

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