These days, web design very often takes a back seat to social media when it comes to digital marketing strategies. As platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram become a daily feature of life for more and more people, it’s increasingly common for business owners to question whether they need their own website at all.
We wouldn’t discourage anyone from asking hard questions about where to dedicate their marketing resources, but we would caution against jumping to conclusions based on a superficial reading of current trends. On one hand, it may be true that your web content and social media content are redundant. On the other hand, it’s most likely that that doesn’t need to be the case.
If you’re worried about redundancies, it’s a good idea to consider how to eliminate them. It’s also a good idea to think about ways you can do so while upgrading your digital marketing strategy, instead of downgrading it. If your website presently isn’t doing anything different from your social media, then it’s time to consider whether you might be wasting the potential value of an independent platform.
Social media has become much more multifaceted over time, but there are still many things websites can do that Facebook and Twitter can’t. In fact, with the ongoing development of UX and new digital technologies, it’s a safe bet that websites will always be a few steps ahead of social media in this regard.
Review and Brainstorm Website Capabilities
With that in mind, it’s a good idea for web developers to review a site’s content on a regular basis in order to make sure that it hasn’t fallen behind the times and become unexpectedly redundant. Any time it seems to be trending in that direction, the developer and the site owner should make an effort to think of things their site can do that their social media platforms can’t.
From there, the team should be able to work down the list and try to think of ways in which those capabilities can be exploited to support the company’s digital marketing strategy.
It’s possible that the final conclusion will be that none of the unique website functions are necessary to conveying the company’s brand message. In that case, it may actually be a good idea to shutter the site, save money on web hosting and maintenance, and become one of the growing number of companies that markets itself exclusively on social media.
But it’s more likely that this brainstorming process will turn up at least one viable idea for redesigning the website in order to engage differently or more effectively with consumers.
We can’t presume to offer you a comprehensive list of potential features that could help you toward this digital marketing goal, but we can offer a few ideas that might help you to get the ball rolling in your own brainstorming session. Consider the following:
When you communicate your brand message to a social media audience, you’re fairly constrained in terms of how information is presented. If you pay for social media advertising, you may be able to get the right posts onto screens belonging to people with the right set of interests. But among organic interactions, the best case scenario is that they’ll see content in reverse chronological orders. More likely, they’ll see your content at random.
This isn’t at all the case when it comes to content on your own website. Search engine optimization can help you to target users in much the same way as you would with social media algorithms, and at much less cost. Then, once consumers arrive at the page you’ve chosen to promote, you can present them with on-page links that lead them, based on their own interests, to each successive piece of information in the ideal order.
Social media, for all its strengths, is very linear. And the fact is that a straight line is very rarely the best way to get people where they are supposed to be. It’s very difficult to imagine social media, anytime in the near future, mimicking the interwoven pathways between multiple pages on the same website.
Although many consumers enjoy the relative anonymity of social media, that anonymity also contributes to an impersonal feeling. That’s detrimental to certain interactions between companies and consumers, not just because it affects the consumers’ sense of trust but also because it makes it difficult for them to have prolonged interactions.
Those who are willing to sacrifice a little bit of anonymity while visiting a company’s website may find that it facilitates development of a much more productive relationship. This is because websites present the option of saving user data, so that prior sessions can be restored on subsequent visits.
From a purely psychological standpoint, this can be the digital equivalent of having the clerk recognize you when your return to the same brick-and-mortar establishment. From a practical standpoint, it may help visitors to see recommendations from an online store based on their browsing history, or to keep track of blog posts and other content that they’ve already seen.
Just as independent websites can contribute to sustained engagement over time, they can also help facilitate more substantive communication between company representatives and potential customers.
Social media is good for quick back-and-forth exchanges between the account manager and the general public, but those interactions are necessarily superficial in most cases. Facebook or Twitter are decent venues in which to field a basic customer service inquiry, but they are poor outlets for the more serious requests, inquiries, or recommendations that might raise your digital marketing to the next level.
An on-site blog, on the other hand, can easily include a comment section that allows visitors to share their thoughts on a topic without the danger of exceeding a character limit or getting buried beneath a constantly-refreshed feed. And websites may also include contact forms or chat bots that allow visitors to reach out directly to the site owner.
Of course, social media accounts may give users the option for a direct message, but this is one feature that can be easily built directly into a website. So while Twitter may be a fine venue for real-time communication but not for lengthy, well-considered responses, an independent website has the potential to offer the best of both worlds. If you think your digital marketing would benefit from that, then you know your website can still be useful.