If you have a Facebook page with 21 million “likes,” do you really need a company website? Stephen Haines, commercial director of Facebook’s U.K. operation, says no!
Speaking at the Technology for Marketing and Advertising conference in London yesterday, Haines demonstrated the power of Facebook by comparing “likes” to web page views. For example, Starbucks who has 21.1 million likes to 1.8 million site visitors, or Coca-Cola who has 20.5 million likes compared with 270,000 visitors.
His idea isn’t totally outrageous. After all, plenty of individuals and companies rely on existing online services rather than building everything from scratch. At the individual level, tools such as Google’s Blogger or Yahoo’s Flickr are easier to set up than a custom-built blog or photo-sharing site. Facebook interactions let companies tap into a wealth of customer information and a communication channel, and there’s no need to coax a user to set up yet another username and password.
But they also acknowledge the other side of the coin, which is that such a trend would make Facebook “a sort of parallel Web inside its own walled garden.”
Kind of feels like that already, doesn’t it?
Facebook does have the ability to pull in an audience. It’s easy to access and the format makes daily communication a breeze. I don’t have stats to back it up, but I’d bet that the number of people who would “like” a company on Facebook is much higher than the number of people who would sign up independently at that same company’s website.
The website vs Facebook page issue is a growing concern for many companies. Does it make sense to buy an ad that drives traffic to your website when Facebook has the active audience? What can a website provide that Facebook can’t? I’ll tell you what, a sense of ownership.
Facebook is a great place to meet and greet with the fans but it’s still Facebook. Having a website is like having an office versus working out of your garage. Even though anyone can build a website, people still see it as a sign of something tangible. It’s the public face of your company and that’s important.
What do you think? Is a company website a waste of virtual space or is it a necessary part of doing business?