Social media or websites? What comes first? It’s a difficult question, not unlike the chicken or the egg dilemma.
Entrepreneurs will often start the real nitty-gritty work of their business venture with a foray onto the web. But the reality is that social platforms can often give websites a good run for their money in terms of audience and functionality – so the question of where to start is a valid one.
Much like the chicken or the egg dilemma, you can make an argument on both sides.
Should You Setup Your Website First?
The process of setting up your website might seem like it is a bit more drawn out than the process of setting up your social media accounts. However with innovative browser based editors such as the one provided by Websites MadeSimple very intuitive designs can be quite simply created – literally by anyone who can use a computer.
So in reality, there is no difference in the complexity of creating a social media presence and creating a website – especially if the functionality that is required of the website is relatively basic.
We will now explore some of the reasons why you might genuinely need to setup your website before your social media accounts.
Conversions & Goals
If you have a web presence you will have a goal you want it to achieve. Your conversions might be based on ‘Contact Form Completions’ or ‘Newsletter Sign-Ups’ – or really any other metric you could imagine.
Certain types of conversion, such as eCommerce, are more conducive to a website than a social media account. When you add a shop to your site, it is a clear business goal to sell products.
If your goal was simply to increase ‘Contact Form Completions’ or ‘Newsletter Sign-Ups’ then you could use a social media platform – as most social networks have contacts and general comms as a high priority, with much less functionality devoted to eCommerce.
So, if the aim of your website is to provide customers with a function not readily available on most social networks – this is a reason to build your website first. You can still engage and promote on social media, but you need to have a place to send them.
Time & Expense
The process of building your website is comparatively short term when you think about the constant enduring process of social media engagement. You might manage a blog on your site or a few other regularly updated sections like a calendar or events page, but most of the time you will leave the site relatively untouched and review after a period of time.
This is slightly different than social media, which requires a considerable devotion of time and resources. Neil St. Clair, CEO of video centered media outlet AlleyWire, wrote in Forbes that “social media is choking your business to death” and suggested that no team member in a company “spend more than 10 minutes a day tweeting, liking and all the rest”.
Social media can be a lot of expense, and it may be a stretch for some startups – so you may wish to start your website first and branch out into social media down the line.
Given the time and expense one must devote to social media, you would expect a huge amount of return from that investment. However, the effectiveness of social media is often debated.
A CMO Survey cited by Neil St. Clair found that 45% of the companies they surveyed had not yet been able to the show the impact of social media spend, and that 40% were able to have a good qualitative sense of the impact but not a quantitative impact. That left just 15% of the 351 marketing leaders surveyed who have “proven the impact quantitatively”.
Surveys like this show that spending far outstrips the proof of effectiveness. So, this shows that social media is a tricky thing to do effectively, or measure effectively – and as a result you might be better off building an effective website first.
Should You Setup Your Social Media Accounts First?
There are some very distinct advantages to starting with your social media accounts before completing your website. This depends on many things including your brand, the type of business you run and your target audience.
It’s very simple and easy, and in most cases free, to sign up for and register your social media profiles. But why might you want to get your business on social media without a website?
One of social media’s most important roles in business is as a research tool. One thing that most certainly helps in social media is the fact that there are so many people already using it, and you can ‘join the conversation’ – as Twitter famously said.
The exposure you can get is therefore quite substantial in comparison to the exposure a website alone might give you. As a result it’s a great way to gauge reaction to your business idea. You can get a sense of what industry leaders are doing to maximise the effectiveness of their social media, analyse competitor accounts and even make a direct communication with potential customers asking – “What would you like to see”.
What this gives you is valuable information to prepare your business. The direct contact with customers and potential customers is a big advantage, and if you have a new or exciting business idea that has never been done before you could find that you have a better chance of success on social media first, and on a website second.
There are just so many different social networks these days. Aside from the larger players like Twitter or Facebook there are now some extremely specific social media outlets that are highly targeted. Some might be extremely well-suited to your business – so it would be a great idea to get involved.
But it’s difficult to know how to choose. Here are a few tips:
- Identify Segments – A segment is a group of people or accounts on a social network that are users of your product or are in your target audience. The social network (or networks) with the most segments that fit your brand is likely to be more effective than one with fewer.
- Brand Personality – Social networks are web platforms and you need to work within that platform, however some offer much more room expand and personalise your profile. Depending on what you want to achieve, this may be a good reason to sign up. For example if you are offering a service that is in any way visual or design oriented you may want to show off your skills and choose a platform that have the ability for a large amount of customisation.
- Clarify Purpose – You need to clarify exactly what you’re going to be doing once you have signed up for your social network. There are many goals that suit different platforms. If you want to recruit professionals then try LinkedIn, if you want people to like a product try Facebook – or if you want to market content think about Twitter. It all depends, clarify your purpose and it will be a lot easier to choose.
If there is one social network that is particularly suited to your business, it may be worth investigating it before you do any work on your website. For example, do you plan on targeting a specific country? Certain countries have their own social networks that are very popular, and therefore may be good places for engagement. There is a hugely diverse selection, so do your research.
The Chicken Or The Egg? The Unanswerable Question
When all is said and done, the question of whether it is better to start your social media accounts or your website first is something of a dilemma. There is no real clear cut answer. But, if you think about the points made here, you might find that it’s easier to decide.
It’s all dependent on a range of factors – so you should think carefully to make the choice. Ultimately though, any business will ideally look to maintain both a website and a social media presence – so it will soon become irrelevant, whichever one you pick first.
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