31 August 2018

Do I really need a website?

The café owner snorted; “What do I need a website for, I’ve got Facebook!” But in this day of Facebook fury is that enough?

Marketing your small business online can be time-consuming. It is not uncommon for time-poor business owners to try and take shortcuts, but not having a website in 2018 is like not having a shop address in 1918.


Your website is the online home of your business and every single marketing activity online should work towards getting your potential customer back home to ‘your place’ on the web, and keeping them there long enough to purchase your products or services.

After all, your home online, is the only place where you have any ownership of what that potential customer reads about your business. It’s the only place you have any control. To understand this, you need to understand the concepts of Paid, Earned and Owned media.

Paid media is obvious – this is media you’ve paid for like advertising and promotional content. This media is highly effective in presenting your business’ products and services to your potential customer, after all, you paid to make it so.

Earned media is a little more nebulous. This is media you’ve earned through word of mouth, social media and social proof like reviews. This media is highly persuasive for potential customers. There is nothing more potent than hearing a third party claim your product is awesome, to really convince and convert.

Owned media is the media you have created, and you have control over. This refers to your blog, website, and any downloaded content, such as How To guides, or ebooks.

Where does Facebook fit?

Although you haven’t paid a cent to use Facebook, the platform is, paid media. You haven’t paid in dollars and cents, but you have paid in other ways, such as providing your eyeballs and, in many cases, in happily providing your personal information. Those two things are hugely valuable for Facebook and the platform’s on-selling of that information in the form of advertising datasets is remuneration enough for their provision of a platform.

As we’ve seen in the past week, however, the use and ownership of this information is a huge moot point. Where the debate will end, we don’t know, but it could mean the end of Facebook as we know it.

If that were to happen, then our café owner and thousands of other business owners like him who have used Facebook’s platform to promote their business will be up the creek without the proverbial paddle.

History Never Repeats

Ah yes, but it does. Remember Posterous?

Posterous was once the big name in blogging platforms and in its heyday, it was an enormously influential platform. Times were good then and many bloggers invested considerable time, resources and Intellectual Property into their blogs and pages on the platform. And then, Posterous stumbled. Not long after the owners of Twitter purchased the platform and promptly forgot about it.

On April 30, 2013 the popular platform went down. At the time it had over 60,000 daily users and 52 million pages.

What happened next is something many people would like to forget, because in short, nothing happened. Posterous stopped, and that was it. Some lucky people managed to transfer their sites over to other platforms such as WordPress, but many did not. We assume those people simply lost all that work and IP.

If ever there was a time to consider your ownership and control of your business’ profile online, the time is surely now. Facebook has been going through a shocking time with the hashtag #deleteFacebook trending and Mark Zuckerberg in retreat.

If the unthinkable should happen and Facebook should cease to exist, how much damage would there be to the café owner’s online profile or yours?

The first rule of online promotion should simply be – focus on bringing your potential customers home to your place online. Home to where you know what has happening and where you’re in control.

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Written by Vicki Jeffels
Vicki has been writing about the web since Adam was boy and used to access the information superhighway via dialup. As well writing for the Openhost Team, Vicki lectures in Digital Marketing and is the Managing Director of Digital Discussions.

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