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Who Needs a Company Website When You Have Facebook?



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.

CNET, who covered the event, thought there was some merit to the idea.

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?

 

  • Zachary

    Funny. The first thing that came to mind when I read the headline was… Who needs a car when we have the bus, or airplanes, or trains, or taxis?

  • http://www.b2cy.com Chris Eh Young

    I would never build a house on someone else’s land, therefore I would never build my business platform on someone else’s bytes.

    Relying on a free service that offers no tech support, no ownership rights, no say in changes, no options to grow, and no guarantees seems a little ridiculous to me. Consider the amount of times Facebook makes changes that upsets people. Also consider that the life span of any social gladiator is still short.

    Do you want to hedge all bets on a platform that could become obsolete or disappear at any moment?

    Sounds like a bad business decision to me.

    • Cynthia

      And yet, here’s the Facebook guy saying in essence, why deal with the hassle of ownership when you can rent!

  • http://www.jaankanellis.com Jaan Kanellis

    At this point FB is only a marketing channel and one that doesnt fit a lot business niches yet.

  • http://www.goto.lv Karlis

    Can I add my http://www.superlikedcompany.com domen address to my FB page without redirect or iframe? no. Can I create multilingual FB page? ups. Can I create really unique design? ha.
    This claim will be able to believe, when Coca-Cola will clear their own webs and will be used only FB. Never :)

    FB is not the world’s navel.

    • http://www.jaankanellis.com Jaan Kanellis

      I love the people who buy a domain name and 301 redirect it to the FB page. Dumb.

      • Cynthia

        Sounds like a simple choice but I’ve spoken to several clients who are confused by where they should send traffic, to Facebook or to their sites. I guess they’re all getting caught up in the hype and forgetting what the real point of marketing is in the first place – a sale from your website.

  • http://www.arcanasphere.com/ MrAndrewJ

    StarBucks also has that nice splash page when you first log into their free WiFi.

    That would be very annoying if, instead, it logged you into their Facebook page with a few dozen widgets installed to kind of, maybe provide a sort of similar experience. They also have a rewards card program running through their site, as well as marketing news and music.

    Starbucks makes enough of their site that Facebook would be a serious downgrade. I need to respectfully disagree, and will do so over my next Skinny Vanilla Latte.

  • http://www.GrowMyCo.com Christine Pilch

    Boy, this is a slippery slope. I agree with Chris Eh Young above. I sure wouldn’t hang my online shingle on a free platform, without any form of recourse if something goes wrong. Have you ever tried to get through Facebook’s labyrinth to a live person for help with a problem? The company is faceless when it comes to customer service. Add to this the fact that Facebook can and does take down pages seemingly at random and without reason. Again, where is customer service? MIA.

    I love Facebook. I’m an avid user, speaker, and trainer of the platform. It’s a terrific tool, but I’ve seen too many things that make me squirrely about entrusting them with the core of my online identity.

  • http://www.arcanasphere.com/ AndrewJ

    I’m going to agree with you in a sideways manner. I don’t think it’s just a “free'” platform that a business needs to worry about, but a single platform.

    I have been watching the SEO types with a little bit of indignation lately, as they hung all their hopes and dreams on free search rankings. I think the same concept applies in reverse here: a business owner or marketer would have to be out of their mind to put up a Facebook page and call it a sustainable business. Even if their walled garden DOES turn into its own AOL-style second Internet, it would be prudent for business owners to remember what happened to AOL.

    This is to say nothing of the control granted by running your own site. That’s being covered as it should be.

    I too enjoy a lot of what Facebook offers. I can see it making a wonderful supplement to a website here and now. I’m just terrified of any marketer who believes it is wise to put all your presence in one place.

    • Cynthia

      Good point on Free vs Single – so many of the tools we use are free from Twitter to blog platforms to Google Analytics even Adsense belongs to someone else.

      But putting all your efforts into one market -even if it’s Facebook, can be scary.

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  • http://@Steven_de_jong Steven

    Hi guys

    I was wondering how long it will take before FB changes the rules and suddenly asks for a fee. For example every company with over one million likes or 100.000 visitors. Everyone is depending more and more on its FB-page, so why wouldn’t FB take advantage of that?

    What do you think?
    Steven

  • http://www.kerryregoconsulting.com Kerry Rego

    What I find interesting is that amongst all my web presence, my main site (which is about to be upgraded), my Facebook page and my Twitter account are all about even. Which one do I send traffic to? I balance it largely between my main site and FB. Why? I respectfully disagree with Cynthia because my goal is not to sell something from my website. I provide a service. My goal is to have brand awareness. I want to be in a lot of highly trafficed places. Where the people are at is important to me. I don’t think we are in danger of having only one place we call ours, one place where we can communicate and do business (WordPress, Blogger, About.me, Google Profile, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, Photobucket, YouTube, these are just mine and I’m sure I’ve forgotten one). If I lose my FB page, I can simply turn to one of the other tools I have, recalibrate my efforts, and full court press the top two. The platforms will shift and change. Our job is to stay flexible and learn to be great surfers. Go where the big waves are!

  • http://www.kerryregoconsulting.com Kerry Rego

    What I find interesting is that amongst all my web presence, my main site (which is about to be upgraded), my Facebook page and my Twitter account are all about even. Which one do I send traffic to? I balance it largely between my main site and FB. Why? I respectfully disagree with Cynthia because my goal is not to sell something from my website. I provide a service. My goal is to have brand awareness. I want to be in a lot of highly trafficed places. Where the people are at is important to me. I don’t think we are in danger of having only one place we call ours, one place where we can communicate and do business (WordPress, Blogger, About.me, Google Profile, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, Photobucket, YouTube, these are just mine and I’m sure I’ve forgotten one). If I lose my FB page, I can simply turn to one of the other tools I have, recalibrate my efforts, and full court press the top two. The platforms will shift and change. Our job is to stay flexible and learn to be great surfers. Go where the big waves are!
    @kregobiz

    • Cynthia

      Kerry, funny you should mention brand awareness vs selling something – I actually thought twice about how I phrased that sentence because I know what you mean, but in the end, you’re still selling something – You.

  • http://www.aureliustjin.com Aurelius Tjin

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  • http://www.bizcommunicator.wordpress.com Hania Whitfield

    I agree with the majority of the naysayers. It’s like brick and mortar v online shopping. Facebook like pages are like billboards or bulletin boards. I want to see an about page, press room, staff profiles, etc.in addition to logo, product, specials, etc. To give me the feel I have walked in the door.
    And then, of course, control over format and content is important. How many changes to FB have we seen this year alone?!

  • http://www.brainwads.com Drew Hawkins

    Facebook pages should never replace company websites. Hosting everything on a Fan Page is like renting an apartment, while having your own website is closer to owning your own home. You have more control on what you can add.

  • http://www.stanleyoppenheimer.com searchengineman

    Yeah I’m sure 10 years ago all you needed was a Myspace page if you were band!

    This guy is only trying to get eyeballs by saying something outrageous.
    I may LIKE “Ben & Jerry’s” – But Facebook would be a crappy interface to choose my flavors or look up a local supermarket that carries the flavor I want.

    This is about as stupid as making your Google Place page the center of your web universe.
    I agree with Kerry Rego above, don’t rely on a 3rd parties and cry when your basket of eggs hits the sidewalk like myspace did.

    Searchengineman.

  • Joe

    My other concern in addition to what has been mentioned is that Facebook presents way too many opportunities and distractions to leave the page vs. my own website – where I have more control over the content.

    In my experience email marketing far outperforms anything one does with a Fan page on FB.

  • http://www.dealeron.com Acacia

    As many above have said, it is always a questionable business decision to hang all of your web traffic, analytics, branding, etc on another business’ platform. I wouldn’t be surprised if Facebook eventually starts charging business users for more than just advertising…their profit potential for charging companies is huge. If a business has all of their website eggs in the Facebook basket, they will almost be forced into accepting whatever charges (or changes) Facebook decides to make in the future.

  • http://www.biggerpockets.com Joshua Dorkin

    As others have said before me, relinquishing ownership of your brand to a third party like Facebook is just asking for trouble. While it has become a powerful marketing channel, Facebook can make policy changes that damage your business. To rely completely on the decisions of people out of your control is just a dangerous business choice, IMO.

  • http://www.gudipudi.com Gudipudi

    Dumb statement by an commercial director!

    Why was FB built when myspace & couple of other networking sites existed much before it ?
    Why FB should hire commercial director when agencies exist ?
    Why own a home when thousands of hotels exist in the city with all facilities ?
    the list continues……..

  • http://IDNForums.com MS

    Put your money on facebook or any other independent platform and this is exactly what can happen, And if it happened once it happened many more times you are unaware of: http://www.ice.co.il/article/view/251250

    The above link refers to a campaign that had a page created on FB and then removed for whatever breach of the policies but the bottom line is 110k usd thrown to garbage.

  • http://www.klimaservis.net klima servisi

    My other concern in addition to what has been mentioned is that Facebook presents way too many opportunities and distractions to leave the page vs. my own website – where I have more control over the content.