Many small businesses start out using social media accounts as their main gateway to attract and engage with customers. There is nothing wrong with this, especially when first starting out, but it’s not the ideal or logical choice if you want to grow your brand.
We see this frequently with small family-owned businesses, independent contractors, freelancers, and sole proprietors. Again, there is nothing outright wrong with this option, however you are definitely holding yourself back by not having a site of your own.
First and foremost, by hosting your entire presence on someone else’s website, you are essentially building content for them and not for yourself. This goes for free site building tools hosted by companies like Weebly, Wix, and others. While they offer you a free domain and hosting (an attractive proposition for anyone with a low budget), you get what you pay for.
When you choose the cheaper option, you’re building up content for their site and are advertising for them directly on your site. This looks unprofessional and we recommend anyone who can afford to get away from sites like this do so as soon as their budget affords the opportunity. Hosting on sites like this may also seem enticing to begin with, however you will often end up paying double or triple the cost if you ever want a personalized domain name and hosting without ads. You will also be constrained by their build software and will often be forced to pay for things which are free to use elsewhere.
When you choose to have your own dedicated website, the sky is the limit. You can design the look and content however you want. It can be as simple or complex as you want, and you’re working to build content for yourself. You are not told which sizes of what type of content have to go in which areas. You get to decide. In addition, your promotional content isn’t held back or hidden on a dedicated site, like it often is without ad payment options on Facebook and Instagram.
We’ve also seen clients who purchased domain names but still have them direct to their Facebook account because they don’t understand just how important having a dedicated site really is. In reality, this option is, at best, a very short term solution. We would recommend this be done only as a temporary option while a website is being construed. It should never been seen as a long term or permanent solution.
Ultimately, social media accounts are fantastic promotional tools, and we recommend your business operates as many as your company can successfully manage and maintain, however they should not be seen as your “website”. That is not their purpose and businesses that wrongly put this faith in them are forever doomed to operate in an ever-constraining environment where your business is at the mercy of a giant corporation. This is not the way to bring your brand success.