The rush to social media and third party sales venues began years ago and at times resembled the race of settlers to acquire land in the frontier days. But the time and resources required to establish all of the perceived necessities of today’s web presence is quite a burden to small business and some may have forgotten to maintain the one thing that every business has complete control over … their own website!
To be sure, having a Facebook following and targeting ads to that (or any other) social network, can be very important. But you cannot control every aspect of those services. From a designer’s perspective you really cannot control very much. And the rules change all the time! What what be working well one month can be suddenly made ineffective or double the cost due to changes at the corporate level of any particular platform.
It is also possible that the popularity battles between competing social networking sites or selling venues could suddenly leave you feeling like you need to also have an additional presence on another site whereby there will be the need to figure out how to do that or more someone that can do it for you. How many third party sites can you justify preparing content for? And what would happen if one you have devoted considerable effort to suddenly looses the war and shuts down or gets swallowed up by another company, changing all of the rules in the process?
The best advice is likely the most obvious. Don’t forget to maintain your own website. And don’t be lured into thinking it can be done automatically by some third party also. If you own your own domain name and maintain your website independently it is a business asset that cannot be taken away due to unforeseen market or technology issues that are beyond your control.
It doesn’t substantially matter if the website is built using standard HTML or runs on an open source content management system such as WordPress. It is still yours and you are free to post whatever you feel is appropriate in whatever manner you find most appealing. If you focus on your website as being the hub of your online presence it is also possible to direct traffic to and from any of the social or sales venues you use.
It is also very important to note that search terms are no less important today than ever before. By maintaining your own website it is possible to also maintain search ranking for terms that are vital to your business, be that the business name, products and market niche. It is fine for a search on something related to your business to result in a link to your Facebook page but better yet if your own website is also represented in the search results since you can always send people to your Facebook page from your website.