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.
- Data ownership
- Existence uncertainty
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.
- Web analytics
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.
In the age of globalization, having an online presence means having a separate space on the internet that anyone interested can reach. Social media is a great marketing platform, but it is merely a tool in a toolbox. To put it simply, social media may be the mouth of a business, but the website is still the brain. Taking into consideration all of the above, plus the ever-changing social media policies, uncertainty around their existence and simple temporary failure, it seems worth to invest some time and money in a website.
Originally published at .ART.