Recently, there has been a lot of buzz in the online marketing industry with many proclaiming that Facebook and Twitter will soon replace the company website. Those making this forecast point to a recent study by the National Retail Federation, of social media users and their relationship with online businesses. Are these proclamations valid? Let’s take a look.

The study found that 42% of online shoppers “occasionally” follow a store via Facebook or twitter. Of these shoppers, their reasons were:

  • 58% to find deals
  • 49% to stay up to date
  • 39% for contests and events

These stats don’t surprise me. I have often said that social media can be a powerful and effective tool in building awareness and interest in your business. However, these are not the only way to build awareness and interest, and more importantly, they are just the first steps of an overall online marketing process. Again, from the study:

60% of Facebook, and 70% of twitter users clicked a link to view the business website.

This shows clearly, that consumers need more than what they’ve experienced through social media to become a customer, and they expect to find this from your website. But perhaps they are already “sold” and are only visiting your site to make their purchase? The study then asked if followers would make their purchase on Facebook/twitter if they could, yet only 1/3 affirmed this.

Oddly, this is the key stat the “experts” are using to declare the death of the website. Call me crazy, but the last time I checked my math, 2/3 is a far greater number than 1/3. And clearly, 2/3 of these users wanted something more than what Facebook/Twitter provides, before making a purchase. I don’t know of too many businesses that are willing to sacrifice 2/3 of the social media leads by dumping their website.

Other Important Considerations

Despite the growing popularity of social networks, many online shoppers simply do not participate in Facebook/Twitter. These potential customers remain out of reach of the social networks. Another consideration is that many online shoppers make purchases while at work, and many corporate firewalls block social media sites like Facebook and twitter. While your potential customers can likely access your website, they could be blocked out from any pages you have on Facebook and Twitter.

There is undoubtably a lot to lose by dumping, or forgoing a company website, now or in the foreseeable future.

Reports of the Website’s Demise are Greatly Exaggerated

The very study on which the reports are based, actually reveal the critical need for a business to have an effective website where social media leads can be directed.

Facebook has made positive changes in its “fan” pages but they still don’t come anywhere close to providing a safe /secure, all encompassing online environment, online purchasing, with full ownership control that a business website can now provide.

The Role of Social Media in Your Online Marketing Strategy

Social Media definitely plays an important role in your online marketing strategy. You might think of a baseball line-up, where SEO is your lead-off batter, skilled to get on base. Social Media might bat second, also skilled to get on base or advance the base-runner. Your website is your clutch and clean-up batter, with the power to hit the long ball, home-runs, and driving in all the base runners for the win. Individually, each player’s contribution only goes so far, but together, they make a powerful and effective sales producing team.