This is a Q & A with Clara Shih, author of “The Facebook Era,” which I’ve already previewed with a blog on why Facebook Ads Should Point to a Facebook Page (Not an External Web Page). This interview also inspired me to hack together a little utility for embedding functionality in Facebook pages. See: Free Tool: Create a Lead Capture Form That Connects Facebook to Your Website.
My usual practice is to publish the first couple of paragraphs of the column, then link to the Forbes.com website. But in this case I thought I’d rather pick out an excerpt for a little additional comment on the topic of whether you should ditch your website in favor of a Facebook business page.
Your book suggests small business owners consider giving up their websites in favor of Facebook pages, and in your talk today you mentioned the example of a beauty shop owner. Is she really shutting down her website, or just putting more emphasis on Facebook?
It’s that she is putting more emphasis in her Facebook page–but she doesn’t want to spend any more on her website. From her perspective, she has spent an arm and a leg on her website for very little result.
As a compromise, she could use the new Open Graphinterface to bring a little bit of Facebook functionality into her website.
Yeah, from a technology perspective, that would be neat. But her problem was really getting people to come to her website at all. She had tried dabbling in Google AdWords, and she’d tried hiring an SEO [search engine optimization] consultant, which cost a fortune. And it didn’t work.
So she figured, instead of asking people to come to her, she’s going to go to them.
A couple of things the editors cut for space:
First of all, Shih said the bit about abandoning your website in favor of Facebook “wasn’t a recommendation. More of a trend.” She said she certainly wouldn’t recommend it for a larger business, or one with a successful website, but that it may make sense for small businesses with limited resources to invest. Part of the argument also had to do with people finding it too hard to update their own websites because everything has to go through the webmaster.
I argued that a better solution would be to make the website easier to update, using something like WordPress. Of course, that’s the WordPress consultant in me speaking.
But she said, “It turns out it’s incredibly hard. And most [small to midsize businesses] have never heard of WordPress.” And in any case, the mechanics of posting the updates is only part of the puzzle. The bigger part is getting people to actually go to the website. Unless the business owner has time and energy to invest in learning SEO, and posting frequent keyword rich blog updates, that may not happen. Thus, the logic in going where the customers are (Facebook) rather than making them come to you.
I would still argue that using Facebook and your website together will be more powerful than using either of them alone. There are still those people who don’t have a Facebook account, for one thing. But this interview certainly got me thinking about finding better ways to link my web projects more tightly to Facebook.