Now this is the typical headline grabbing statement that I feel plagues “Social Media” and is possibly one of the reasons why some companies dismiss social media as “pointless…”
So, is social media making corporate websites a thing of the past? In a word, NO!
Come on, let’s think about it. Why do people visit corporate websites? Why do people visit social sites, or websites that leverage social media? Are they for the same things?
Social Media for the corporation
Social media should be a vital part of any organisations communications. Social media should be seen as a communications tool to organisations, a tool that provides new ways of interacting with customers, partners etc. It’s very powerful, as a marketing tool, it also has great merits as a way of leveraging marketing campaigns further with little added cost.
There are many people that now include links to their twitter account, or company’s facebook profile in email signatures, even business cards. I am one such person. There is nothing wrong with this. It allows us to communicate with others through a new medium, and in the case of twitter, almost in real time.
At present, in the USA, Vitamin Water is placing ads that push users to a Facebook page, not a corporate website. This is has a number of benefits, the most obvious being that the company can interact with the people who participate with them on Facebook on an on-going basis. There is also a downside, that those not on facebook or willing to engage in social media will never visit that page, will never learn more about that product. This is potentially wasteful as your target audience shrinks immediately. Many argue though that the long term benefits far outweigh the additional advertising wastage of pushing users to facebook.
For me, this is working, the companies Facebook page has over 350,000 fans, which the company can interact with daily. The only negative is, the company is losing potential visitors as you have to have a facebook account to view and interact with the page. I view this as an intelligent way of interacting with a customer base. However, would I therefore remove my corporate website? No….Would I implement this idea in the same way? No…
Why keep my corporate website
Just think what you can place on your corporate website…There is no limit to the amount of information, features and functions you can add. You are always limited if you choose just a social media site, such as Facebook or MySpace.
It is also worth remembering, it is very easy for large organisations with great brand awareness to rely on social media. Skittles recently launched their website that basically acts as a portal to social media activity / websites such as Flickr, You Tube and facebook (www.skittles.com). This really only works because most of us know what Skittles are. Would this work for a company though that makes taps for oil drilling equipment? Would it even work for massive organisations such as Vodafone, who have more to say than “this is us….”.
Also, what about my brand image itself? On your own website you get across your complete look and feel, your brands ethos both visually and in tone. If you’re using another site, essentially this becomes hard to do.
The point I am making is that while social media is engaging, for people or other companies that want to find out more about you, read white papers, look at the services you provide, social media just won’t get the job done.
Corporate website and social media
This is where we should all be heading. Let’s keep our corporate websites, give our website users the ability and choice to interact with our content, features and functionality of our website. But also provide them with access to social media content. There is nothing stopping your corporate website in pulling in images from flickr, videos from your You Tube channel, or even looking at your corporate Facebook page. You can even let users sign into your own corporate website using their twitter account or facebook account. If you do so, this adds to their user experience, and again makes life easier for them to interact and engage with your content. Give the user the choice….
Why not leverage the power of social media websites, social media activities and your own interactive website and marketing? This must be the best option…
Social media is here to stay, and I hope that certain people involved stop trying to oversell it, or over state its importance. Social media is important, it’s crucial in interacting with your customers and others in the modern day, however, it doesn’t replace or make up for other forms of communication, and nor should it.
If you are looking at social media for your own organisation, or what it can do for you, then contact a PR agency. An agency that understands not just the concepts of social media, but the technology that makes it all work for you. Contact an IT company too, together they can ensure your organisation maximises its communications channels and maximises your communications reach.