Blog | Website vs. Facebook: Which Is Better for Your Business?

SME Evolve online
SME Start online
by Ryan Levis
20 Jun 2024

Is a social media platform Facebook truly enough for your small business, or should you have a website?

On the surface, relying solely on a social media platform like Facebook for your business’ online presence might seem like the most straightforward and  least expensive option.

But let’s dig a little deeper and challenge that assumption. Yes, Facebook (and other platforms like Instagram and TikTok) can be great for building visibility and capturing your audience’s interest. However, they’re limited in their ability to help you build lasting relationships with your customers and, more importantly, convert them into sales.

So what is the case for creating a website?

Starting from scratch and building a low-maintenance website for your business doesn’t need to be an expensive, time-consuming task. Is it as quick as setting up a Facebook business page? Not quite – but if you think over the long-term, here are four compelling reasons why websites are more than worth the effort on your part:

Reason 1: Your website is fully customisable, while Facebook is a “walled garden”

What comes to mind when you think of a “walled garden?” Chances are, it’s nice to look at, but there are definite, hard limits as to what you can and can’t do. And that is Facebook in a nutshell. Yes, Facebook provides an intuitive, easy-to-use platform, but there’s precious little you can customise or change to suit the look and feel of your business and brand.

Another important part of the “walled garden” experience is that, should you decide to delete your Facebook account, any content – like photos and videos – are permanently gone as well. That said – Facebook does give you 30 days to either cancel your account deletion or retrieve any information you might need.

With a website, on the other hand, you have the ultimate freedom and control to make it look however you like. More importantly, you own 100 per cent of the content you produce and post.

Speaking of content, your website gives you the space to go into detail about your story and employees, the benefits of your product and services, your pricing options – and more. Building a website also gives you the flexibility to incorporate a broad range of apps and functionality, like Google Analytics, which can give you deeper insights into who is visiting your website and what content they’re engaging with most.

Reason 2: You don’t have any control over social platforms like Facebook

While you may run your own Facebook business page, you operate under Facebook’s rules. So, if they decide to implement sweeping changes or, say, a new monthly fee, there is really nothing you can do.

Here’s a recent example: Facebook updated their algorithm, which now places far more emphasis on user-shared content and posts between people, rather than interactions between people and businesses. This has resulted in organically created content from businesses like yours getting a great deal less visibility and interaction.

There is even the potential for long-running, well-established social platforms to completely transform overnight. Look no further than Twitter’s shift to “X,” along with the rise of bots and hate speech on the platform.

Reason 3: A website lends your business far more trust and credibility with customers

According to a recent An Post survey, 94% of all Irish adults have shopped online in the past three months, with 96% shopping online for physical goods (excluding groceries) in the past 12 months.  In addition, it points out that the majority of Irish SME’s e-commerce sales are in Ireland (50%), while 25% are to Northern Ireland and the remaining 25% of sales are to the UK and other European countries.

Our own research shows that 69% of Irish consumers are more trusting of businesses that have their own website. Just 24% of consumers trust businesses that are only on social media, while only 18 per cent trust businesses that do not have a website.

Seeing that a business has its own website (especially if you’ve never heard of that business), immediately makes them look more trustworthy and reliable.

Plus – when you choose .ie as the domain for your website, it allows consumers to immediately identify an Irish website where they can shop and buy local.

Reason 4: If anything goes seriously wrong with your business’ Facebook account, your options are limited

This Irish entrepreneur saw the Facebook page for her fitness and nutrition business get hacked and held for a hefty ransom. Contacting Facebook yielded no solution, and ComReg stated that Facebook was outside of their remit.

A recent worldwide outage affecting all the Meta platforms (Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and Threads) left thousands of Irish users unable to access their accounts, including businesses. Having a day (or several) where customers can’t access the Facebook page your business depends on isn’t acceptable.

Bycontrast – should anything happen with your website, like a cyberattack or server outage, there are multiple people you can reach out to directly for support, including your web developer or hosting provider.

Websites and social media should co-exist for your benefit

When it comes to building a credible, trustworthy digital presence for your business, websites are vital and should be a priority.

And while you shouldn’t rely exclusively on Facebook and other social media platforms to do everything, they can help drive traffic back to your website and form part of an “omni-channel” approach that offers customers more than one way to engage with your business.

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As the trusted national registry for over 330,000 domain names, .ie protects Ireland’s unique online identity and empowers people, communities and businesses connected with Ireland to thrive and prosper online. A positive driving force in Ireland’s digital economy, .ie serves as a profit for good organisation with a mission to elevate Ireland’s digital identity by providing the Irish online community with a trusted, resilient and accessible .ie internet domain. Working with strategic partners, .ie promotes and invests in digital adoption and advocacy initiatives – including the .ie Digital Town Blueprint and Awards for local towns, communities and SMEs. We provide data analytics and dashboards built by the .ie Xavier team to help with data-led decision-making for the public, registrars and policymakers. The organisation is designated as an Operator of Essential Services (OES) under the EU Cyber directive, and we fulfil a pivotal role in maintaining the security and reliability of part of Ireland’s digital infrastructure.

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