If you’re doing business exclusively through social media (or are thinking about doing so), you’re not alone. Many new business owners wonder if they can stick to a social media account or two to conduct business to avoid the extra costs (in both money and management) of a website.
If you’re already making sales through social media DMs or in person, that extra step of having a website may seem like something you just don’t need.
But is this really the case? Can you conduct business exclusively through your social media accounts?
Do I Need a Website if I’m on Social Media? 6 Reasons You Do
#1 Grows trust and authority
All the reasons on this list are good reasons to have a website, and I’ve listed them in no particular order. That said, this is the most important reason to have a website. There’s just no getting around the fact that a well-designed website (that means it just needs to look like it was made in the last few years, not in 2004) makes you look like a legitimate business that has its you-know-what together.
Imagine you were looking for a new dentist to go to. Would you go to one that had all of the information you needed on their website or one that just had a Facebook page? You’re much more likely to go to the dentist with the website because they feel more legitimate.
It also gives you authority. A website allows you to create space for your business and hold it. On social media there are dozens of ways someone can get distracted – they may get an idea and search for something else, a notification may ding that takes them elsewhere, or they may accidentally hit the home button where something on their main feed distracts them.
If you want people to search on Google for your business and then continue on to reach out to you, you need to have a website.
#2 You own the platform
Large social media platforms don’t often experience downtime, but it’s still important to consider what would happen if your main social media platform disappeared. Do your customers have any other way to contact you?
While it’s highly unlikely that a platform like Instagram will suffer a severe enough attack that your account is lost forever, you do need to realize that only working through a social media account puts you at risk. If your account got hacked, you can’t rely on Instagram’s team to get it back up and running for you.
A website is something you control and can back up and gives you a place to collect email addresses from your customers and leads so you can reach them at any time.
#3 More creative freedom
A platform like Instagram is fairly design-friendly, but there’s no way to get around the fact that you’re just using some of Instagram’s space. Your branding will always be surrounded by Instagram’s branding.
You’re also always going to be confined to their layout. You have to work with their grid and their size of images, and you can only set your bio up in a certain way. Sure, it’s not the end of the world, but if you want to grow a brand you really need a space you can call your own.
With a website, there are no limits. You can create almost any online experience you want, especially if you’ve got the support of a skilled designer to ensure you get the best out of your website platform.
#4 Leads can buy from you without you needing to facilitate the sale
If you sell exclusively via social media direct messages, you’ve got to facilitate every sale. Your customer has to be willing to reach out to you (even if you sent them a message first) and then you have to sell them on your product or service, whether you provide it online or off.
When you have a website, you have the ability to automate as much of the process as you like. You can set up a sales page where they can purchase from you. You can give them all the information they need so they’re ready to buy from you when they reach out to you – in other words, you can take a lot of the ‘hard’ selling off your plate.
#5 Tailor the user experience
When you’re only on social media, you have very few ways to demonstrate to your potential customers and clients what it’s like to be your customer. When you have a website you can tailor the user experience from start to finish so you can demonstrate the ease of working with you.
Search for your business on Google now – do you come up? Your social media account may show up in the search results, but unless someone’s actively looking for your business and is willing to go to your social media page, you’re going to lose them.
You’re also not going to be able to take advantage of all the SEO opportunities if you don’t have a website. SEO (search engine optimisation) allows you to set up your website in such a way that you start to show up in the search results for related keywords.
For example, if you’re a local gardener and someone’s looking for gardening services in your area with a search term like “gardener near me” or “gardener in [location]”, you’re not going to show up.
When you have your own website you can set up pages specifically to capture the traffic from your keywords. Continuing with our gardener example, you could set up a page for every local area you serve that speaks specifically to them. This page won’t be listed in your menu, its job will be solely to capture traffic from those search terms.
While this is easiest to demonstrate for local businesses, you can do this with any online product or service-based business, too. (For more advice on SEO best practices, read this next: 9 Ways to Keep Site Visitors for Longer & Improve Your SEO.)
So, do you need a website to start a business? No, but you’re going to be limiting your success if you don’t. A website gives you room to grow and experiment; you can create customer experiences that wow and you can deliver content that helps them find more success with whatever it is you offer. You may write blog-style posts for your Instagram captions, but they’re not going to show up in search results. If you want your business to experience longevity, you need a website.