Many of us might feel like websites belong in the era of early Internet, with its dial-up access and horrific graphic design solutions. It seems we are too quick to judge – a website is still a solid base for high quality online presence.
There is little doubt left about online presence being an essential, if not the main tool of growing a business or a personal brand. At the same time, the battle between websites and social media is ongoing. Social media offers a safe refuge to the often impractical and impatient people of the arts: you can display your work with minimal effort, with as much passion as goes into making it. But there’s a catch – a few, actually. While social media is a great tool for showcasing your work and having a direct dialogue with your audience, it shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for a full-scale online presence of a website. The two should complement each other, like a house you own to live in, and an office you rent to work. Here is what you should remember about the tricky world of social media.
If the possibility of your recent artwork (or a selfie!) being used on milk cartons didn’t scare you, here is our next question. When was the last time you heard of Bebo, Friendster, Myspace and Google+? Once upon a time these were successful social platforms, but they are long gone, with all their content. It’s like building a house on land you don’t own – how can you ever be sure it won’t get demolished? As long as you are only on social media, your two most valuable assets, portfolio and established audience, are at a constant risk of vanishing with yet another big corporation.
Search results dominance
Due to the amount of sharing and activity on social media pages, they are good for web searches. However, websites have the upper hand. A website will be higher in the search results than a social media page due to relevance. A website also has the opportunity to appear in related searches and climb up the search lists if the owner invests in SEO.
A website simply gets you better understanding of how your marketing efforts work. With tools like Google analytics and emailing lists, you can have a much deeper insight into your target audience. Likes and shares are often very hard to correlate with conversion rates, especially in the clutter of information that social platforms are.
Brand image control
On a social media platform, a business is at the mercy of that format, with limited tools to customize the customer experience on their page. Every aspect of a website is built to reflect the identity of the business, its brand, philosophy, products, logo. With social media, a brand must represent itself under the giant umbrella of whatever social media platform it is using.
A website simply makes an individual or a business look more professional. If you’re aiming to work with other brands to get sponsorship, you will need a website – for your potential sponsors to have one place of reference to get reliable information from, and for you to use as additional ad space. A website also lets you have a professional looking email address – on a very subconscious level it’s still something you are judged by.