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“If I have a Facebook page, why do I need a website?”  I’m starting to get this question more and more.  Clients want to know if it necessary to have both a website and a Facebook page.  Many are even considering taking down their site in favor of a Facebook page. Knowing your goals in advance is really the key to answering this question.  Your Facebook page can be used to grow your brand, your customer base, and your community.  Your website is where you will highlight your goods and services and if applicable, sell products.  I think a corporate Facebook page and company website run hand-in-hand.  To help us understand the differences between the two here is a short list of the pros and cons.

Pros

You don’t have to take on the expense and time of building a website

Setting up a Facebook page is free

Using third-party apps on Facebook is easy and fairly inexpensive

Developing new pages is very easy

You can sell products using their eCommerce platform with PayPal

Builds relationships with customers and prospects

Cons

You don’t own the content or the data on the page

Not everyone uses Facebook or social media

Other than the Insights Facebook gives you can’t measure its effectiveness

You must with the Facebook terms of service and, if violated, they can remove your page

Facebook is geared toward brand awareness and networking, not revenues or profits 

If Facebook goes away tomorrow, so do your relationships

Someone on your team (or you) needs to stay on top of changes at Facebook, which happen multiple times a month and sometimes without communication

Website design has become so easy these days that there isn’t much of a downside to building your own site.  In addition, having a website can lead to the credibility of your business.  Keep in mind that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a compelling and competitive web site.  There are many services that will allow you to build your site for free.  Listed below are some contenders to think about when looking for free website service:

Yola – Allows you to create a website in minutes with no technical skills. 

Weebly – Named one of TIME’s 50 Best Websites and features a drag and drop interface to 

Webstarts – Allows you to get ranked on Google, Yahoo, Bing and MSN. 

Google Sites- Easy to set up and allows you to share web pages among groups. 

While setting up your website can be free and easy, some real time and effort should be placed regarding where you host your website.  Services such as GoDaddy, Firehost, HostGator offer competitive pricing, but you will want to do your homework before you choose a hosting site.  Of course with Facebook, you can host your page for free but you will not always have control over the content and there is a risk of your page being changed at any time.  There’s also the issue of your privacy and protecting your content – a topic that is becoming more an more of an issue on Facebook.    

A Facebook page versus a website is really up to you, as long as you’re aware of the pros and cons, you can make the most educated decision for you and your company.

Portions of this post appeared in Pros and Cons of Facebook As Your Website from Spin Sucks on November 9, 2011

Photo provided by Photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net