This is a very interesting topic and one which has a different answer depending on who you talk to. With that in mind, I am going to answer it with my opinions backed up with my logic and experience with 20 years in the IT and Internet Marketing industries.
So what exactly are online assets?
Anything online that mentions your company or brand is an asset. For this illustration, let’s assume you are a small business, for example a brick and mortar business with a storefront or at least a warehouse.
The obvious online assets to start include the following (you may or may not have some of the following):
- Facebook Page
- You Tube Channel and Videos
- Instagram Page
- Twitter Page
- Yelp Listing
- Yellow Pages listing
- Yahoo Local listing
- Bing Local listing
- Google Plus listing
- Google Places listing
- Four Square listing
- Amazon.com product listings
- Other Directory listings (Thumbtack, Merchant Circle, Insider Pages, Zomato, etc)
When you look at this list, a trend I have been seeing for the past couple years, particularly in the restaurant industry, is to make a Facebook page the primary asset. I have even seem some businesses using their Facebook page exclusively, and not even having a website.
While I am biased since I design websites for profit, I still have compelling reasons to think that putting all of your assets into Facebook is very unwise. I have seen Facebook take down pages in the past, and they give no reason, no appeal, nothing in the way of repairing the damage done.
For most businesses this will never really be an issue, but it’s still one that scares me enough to know that Facebook might not be forever. In fact, MySpace used to be the primary social network prior to Facebook.
Aside from the possibility of getting on the wrong side of Facebook’s content police, there are other factors that concern me with only using Facebook for your business. The loss in popularity and reach is a major concern for any social network.
For example, virtually every 20 and under person is using Instagram and Snapchat almost exclusively and rarely use Facebook according to a lot of the statistics being published out there. While that is only one demographic and not necessarily the one with the spending power right now, that is likely to change over time.
There is also a strong possibility other social networks will emerge, pulling even more market share away from Facebook. While Facebook stays on the cutting edge, the reality is they are relying on advertisers to keep spending to keep their shareholders happy. Once the ad revenue dries up, the very existence of Facebook as the most popular social network will be questionable.
Linked In has done an incredible job of becoming the business professionals’ network of choice the last few years. With Linked In’s advertising platform, they are continuing to grow and be a great source for business advertising.
So due to uncertain future of Facebook’s dominance as the social network of choice, I think it is a bad idea to put all of your business into Facebook and not your own website.
Another reason I think it is important to not focus exclusively on Facebook is because a lot of people don’t use Facebook, and don’t want to have anything to do with it. Often times these people find your business in a Google search result and click to the Facebook page, but Facebook wants them to create an account to see the content.
This creates a real disconnect from people who might do business with you, as they want nothing to do with Facebook, yet they are being asked to create an account. This is a very bad first impression of your business online for a lot of people.
Facebook or Company Website? Which is Better?
This is a hard question to answer since so many people will disagree, but I think you need to have a website for your business at a minimum. It is also a good idea to have a Facebook business page, as long as you plan to put something on it once in a while, so it doesn’t stay empty.
There is no software that every web design company should know how to use, which will allow you to syndicate anything you put on your website down to your Facebook page as well as Twitter page. Just by updating your website, you now will have an active Facebook and Twitter page and be able to look like a vibrant business and also connect to people where they want to connect with you.
Some people will see your updates via Facebook. Others will see your push notifications next time they are on their cell phones or computer. Yet others will subscribe to your email newsletter on your website, and visit your website when they get the monthly newsletter.
Different people just have different ways of keeping up with things, which is why you likely want to make sure you are doing all of them which is much simpler to do now with WordPress websites and syndication to Twitter and Facebook.
Syndication from your website can be automated with just one simple piece of software if you are using WordPress. WordPress is highly recommended if you plan to update your website and use social networks.
As far as which is better, I think the answer is having both, but making sure to have a website. Your website is your biggest asset, something nobody else can take away from you, and something that will stand the test of time.
Right now, nobody knows how popular Facebook will be in 5 years. I am not sure if Linked In will continue its upward trend. I am still very surprised how popular Instagram and Snapchat got so quickly.
The velocity of the social networks and their ability to gain traction gets faster with each new successful company. As more come online and innovate, it could leave companies like Facebook with far less success than they are having today. Possibly Facebook will purchase some up and coming social networks and integrate them.
Only time will tell where the masses hang out in the future, but one thing is for sure, it is very important to keep your website up to date since it is the only asset nobody else can take down.
What About the Others?
We didn’t touch a lot on Yelp listings and other web properties in that list, but relying solely on properties that other companies control is just never in your best interest. This is why it is important to not only have control of your domain name, but also understand where it is hosted, ensuring you have good daily or at least weekly backups, and making sure all of that is running smooth to ensure business continuity in the event something happens to your web developer or web hosting company.