We live in times where social media is everywhere. No matter if you’re walking your dog, waiting for your Uber to arrive or simply still in bed although it’s noon already, there’s a chance you’re on your phone, liking your friend’s picture of their cute new puppy.
What does this mean for businesses and services that use a website as their main way of reaching customers? Are websites dead? Should you rely exclusively on social media platforms to promote and sell your products? Not in the slightest. In the following sections, we’ll see how the growth of social media affected website popularity and how you can build on top of that to reach even further into your target demographic.
Social media isn’t a new concept
As a matter of fact, social media has been around for a while. Most of us probably think that social media has been a thing only since Facebook and Twitter took over our phones’ screens, but that’s far off from the actual fact.
The first recognizable social media platform was named “Six Degrees”, which was created back in 1997. Similar enough to today’s Facebook, it allowed users to upload a profile picture and befriend other users on the platform.
In 1999, blogs started becoming popular, and the social Internet exploded in popularity. Myspace and LinkedIn showed up on the Internet scene shortly after, with YouTube coming out in 2005. Less than a year after that, Facebook and Twitter took over, still remaining two of the web’s most popular sites up to this day.
Although social media platforms were almost always free-to-use, developers always found a way of endorsing products or advertising them in a way that would make hosting and maintaining them profitable. Nowadays, sites like Facebook provide specialized tools for companies to promote and sell their products directly within the platform, with minimal to no former marketing, design or coding experience required.
Although you might think that the gain in popularity manifested by social media platforms resulted in the diminishing of dedicated websites for brands and companies, these two concepts always co-existed and even sustained one-another in a way.
How did social media change over time?
Social media went over time from a stand-alone service, where content would be exclusively generated through the platform to a point where, today, social media platforms successfully aggregate a variety of media content types from a wide spectrum of sources and push it through in a user’s feed.
Furthermore, individual websites took a similar approach, where they do not only link to the brand’s social media page (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), but they incorporate content from the platform right into the page’s interface, and even integrate certain social features right into the website’s behavior, to help users interact even easier with the brand over a certain platform.
For instance, online stores include buttons for sharing a certain product over a variety of social media platforms, thus allowing the brand to be advertised organically through a customer’s activity. Fashion blogs often include a plugin that pulls the blogger’s Instagram feed straight to the website, this way intertwining the two experiences, and creating a seamless transition between the two.
At this point, social media is an incredibly versatile tool that enables content creators, companies and individuals to reach almost any kind of demographic within hours. According to wearesocial.com, in 2017 over 74% of the active Internet users are also social media users, amounting to a rough 2.7billion people all around the world. This puts into perspective just how powerful social media is, and how useful it can be when combined with a website that’s efficient in getting the point of your business across to the consumer.
Why would you have a website and not just a Facebook Page?
Although social media platforms now provide great tools to market and promote your product or company and even sell products online, you might want to consider also having a website for a number of reasons.
According to smartinsights.com, Facebook is by far the platform with the best reachability and also the most engaging when it comes to user experience. Facebook’s platform provides great tools to promote your business to targeted communities and even sell your products online through Facebook’s Marketplace feature. This is Facebook’s attempt at creating an online store platform where both users and brands can list items for sale. This might be useful if you’re looking into selling your merchandise online, as it cuts the hassle of setting up your own online store, but it also means that you have to go by Facebook’s regulations and tax policies. If you’re looking for a professional online store where you have full control of the user experience as well as the sale process, you might want to skip Facebook’s Marketplace and get a proper online store page.
First of all, platforms are subject to frequent changes. Granted, these changes might not always be major, but as long as you’re using a platform to promote your product, you need to obey the rules and regulations of said platform. Furthermore, developers have the right to change the interface or appearance of the site at any time, so you’ll have to keep up by adjusting your media content to fit gracefully into the platform’s interface. As an example, when Facebook introduced and then adjusted Facebook covers and advertisement banners, companies had to keep up by adjusting and often re-doing banners, headers and other media resources, so that they would fit the new interface.
But isn’t a website complicated to build?
Building a website might seem like a difficult task to most, especially back in the day when coding a website required quite a lot of technical knowledge. Luckily for you, today there’s a wide range of tools to help you build a website in virtually no time. From automated website builders, to customizable blogs, to great sites such as codester.com from where you can get themes for your site, plug-ins or snippets of code that you can use straight away to add functionality to your website. It also has great bits of code to either inspire or help you cut to the chase when you’re making mobile apps, Buildbox games, WordPress themes and so on.
It doesn’t really matter if you’re a professional web programmer or if you’re just getting started with coding, having a source to get inspired and to use code snippets from is a great thing, as it often spares a lot of time that would just be spent “reinventing the wheel” – and as we all know, the digital age is all about speed and efficiency. You might find that these solutions are actually life savers in some cases, so we highly encourage you to check it out. You can even find social media plugins that allow you to incorporate your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter feeds right into your website, so the user’s experience is more streamlined.
It’s important to keep in mind that social media platforms and traditional websites aren’t working one against the other – it’s actually quite the opposite: they can be set up and used to promote each other and to help your page grow in popularity and reach. Social media platforms might change over time, but dedicated websites will always have the professional touch to them that allows both big companies and individuals to build the identity of their brands. And with tools like plug-ins and code snippets, professional looking websites can be easier to build than you think. In the end, it’s a matter of having a vision and making it a reality – as you have all the tools you need ready for you to conquer the Internet with.