Social Media Platforms: With more people than ever using their mobile phones to access the web, are Facebook and Twitter more important to businesses than websites?
Recruitment advertising agency andSoMe relies on Facebook and Twitter for its online presence after replacing its website with a holding image two and a half years ago. Co-founder Mark Rice says the move made a statement about the company, reflecting its shift from print to digital advertising and eventually social media: “If we are going to sell our expertise in social media to our clients, where better to do that than [on] the platforms that we’re selling to them?”
The decision also made financial sense. Bespoke websites can cost thousands of pounds, so should small businesses abandon them to save time and money? Or does this strategy only work for certain niche industries?
Of course, you don’t have to spend a fortune on a website. Free tools like content management system WordPress and hosting service Weebly can help. But they may require investments in additional plug-ins or support. Because social sites like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter are easy to use, free and update automatically there’s an opportunity for SMEs to save money on development and become more efficient.
andSoMe’s staff spend less than an hour per day maintaining its social media presence (it has more than 2,000 followers on Twitter and 242 Facebook page likes). The move has also helped avoid formulaic trends in website design caused by the increasing use of mobile, says Rice.
However, while this approach may reduce costs, the functionality offered by social media platforms may not be enough for the majority of small businesses, particularly those that need to offer e-commerce, and websites can be important for establishing respectability.
Julie Hawker, chief executive of Cosmic, a not-for-profit organisation that provides small businesses with IT support and advice, says it’s crucial to consider the return on time invested.
“There are certain types of businesses that can progress well and excel in their use of social media and are able to convert interest into sales. There are others where the anchoring and the core nuggets of content [on websites] are still vitally important,” she advises.