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If you watched this year’s Super Bowl, you probably saw the big, splashy 30-second spots from two companies – Wix and Squarespace – that are arguably the two most popular website creation tools around. The Wix spot featured Jason Statham and Gal Gadot (better known as Wonder Woman), while the Squarespace spot featured John Malkovich. Obviously, these companies believe very strongly that just about everyone should have their own website – but is that necessarily true in the era of social media?
Social media vs. the website
You could make a strong case, in fact, that an active Facebook page, perhaps supplemented by a daily Twitter feed and an Instagram account updated once a week, would be more than enough to keep up with fans, customers and other stakeholders. If you were a small business owner, you could post all of your sales and promotions via Twitter, include videos and photos of your products on Facebook, and run influencer marketing campaigns via Instagram. If you needed to create long-form content, you’d simply post a story to Medium.
And, best of all, it would all be absolutely free. You’d have plenty of off-the-shelf analytical tools to measure your online presence, and you’d be hanging out where your customers are hanging out. Since social media platforms are so familiar to young millennials, you wouldn’t even need to hire and train a high-priced marketing whiz – you could hire a recent college grad with a few thousand followers on Instagram.
Selling via social is still a problem
So far, so good, right? But there’s one area where you’d eventually run into a problem, and that’s e-commerce. If you wanted to sell items online, you’d have to use a third-party platform like Etsy or eBay. That’s because social media platforms like Facebook still haven’t cracked the hard nut of social commerce. They’re great for advertising new products, but not necessarily for selling them.
And that’s precisely one of the major selling points of website creation tools like Wix or Squarespace – they boast a lot of extra functionality, like the ability to sell items directly from your website. That’s huge for, say, an artist with a huge portfolio of paintings for sale. You’d be able to control the full e-commerce operation without having to pay a cut to a third-party middleman. And, if Wix or Squarespace don’t cut it for you, there’s always a more expensive e-commerce platform like Shopify.
What is your social strategy going to be?
Ultimately, the decision comes down to what you want your “online presence” to do. If it’s just a matter of raising awareness and building relationships with fans, then social media is an excellent choice. You could theoretically cobble together a full-scale social media presence for your company in just a few hours. You wouldn’t have to worry about content management systems or about website repairs and updates. It might be annoying if Twitter goes down for a few hours, but at least you’d know that you wouldn’t have to deal with “the IT guy” to fix a website.
Certainly, it’s possible to expect a further blurring of the space between “website” and “social media platform.” Once social media finally solves the problem of e-commerce, that’s when a “website” and a “social media platform” may become virtually indistinguishable from each other.