I don’t know how it happened. I don’t know why it happened. And, I don’t know who thought it was a good idea. I do know, however, that your corporate Facebook page should not be a substitute for your website. And, yet for some reason, major brands insist that interested consumers go to their Facebook page from expensive television ads and paper ads. Let me start out by saying, that it’s commendable that big brands are attempting to integrate social media into their repertoire. But to use Facebook, and other social media sites, as the central hub of how consumers get to know your brand, and interact with your brand, is simply wrong.
Your Website is the Center of Your Galaxy
Your website is, and will always be, the center of your corporate galaxy. It retains the most gravity (in a sense) with major search engines, it’s what brand-loyalists will know first, and it’s what prospective consumers of the brand will run across first.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc are satellites in the corporate galaxy, and are of varying size like the planets in our galaxy. For example, your Facebook page can be the Jupiter of your corporate online universe: a hefty gravity of its own, numerous moons, but still bound to the gravitational pull of the Sun (your website).
Put it in Perspective
Satellite Brand Extensions
Social sites are satellite extensions of your brand, they were never meant to be the spokesperson for your brand, but rather a liaison or a networking mercenary. A lot will argue that point because they think that’s exactly what social is intended for: spokesperson-dom. But, it shouldn’t be the authority on your brand. That’s your website’s job. It’s where the information is (or at least should be). It’s where consumers find out what you offer, what you do, and how you do it. And, yet, big brands are continually positioning Facebook as the destination.
Everything Facebook Can Do, Your Website Can Do
Even those brands using Facebook successfully are still driving consumers back to their website to engage the content, tacking some identifiers into the URL string so they know the came from Facebook. Let’s look at a cross-section of several industries:
All the contests you promote, all the special content you promote, and all the slick, time-saving apps are already on your website. Why aren’t you driving engagement there? Why not advertise specially created landing pages from costly TV ads and print buys? Why are you driving already-loyal consumers, and those you hope to persuade, to the Facebook walled-garden? Moreover, why are you sending them to place where your competitor’s ads are and can roam freely, defeating the purpose? That’s why there’s Facebook Connect, allowing people to “like”, share, and interact with your Facebook wall directly from your website.
Don’t Tell Me It’s About SERPs & Engagement
Even though Bing will be using Facebook “Like” data in the SERPs, it’s still not very prevalent. Here’s one example query, signed in with Facebook credentials: “milwaukee bucks” – Bing http://binged.it/jgfs2z . It’s no different than what you would find in Google’s SERP, signed in, with +1 and social connections promoting things via Twitter. Beyond that, just how influential are these social “vouches”, the “likes”, in the search results? Are they really that jam-packed with influence as to alter a searcher’s decision? In my opinion, no, not in the least. But that won’t stop SEMs and Social gurus from pushing it down everyone’s throat to justify their existence.
Engagement? Is the engagement that much better or more meaningful on Facebook? Is a “like” really that significant on a macro or micro strategy level? All these big corporations, and mid-sized businesses, are doing is creating an extra step to get to the information. If you want to get people to enter your contest, or look at specials you’re running, or engage some nifty application that might make their lives easier, why not send them to unique landing pages on your site? It stands to reason there would be some incredibly valuable consumer engagement when they don’t have extra barriers to plow through, right?
Here Comes the Sun
Stop treating your website as superfluous. It is your online brand. It is the center of your corporate universe and all your social satellites revolve in its orbit, not the other way around. Your website shows up in search results first; I’ve seen corporate pages take up to as many as the first 5 spots. And, what’s never on the first page of results in both Bing and Google? Your Facebook page.
Your social media efforts should serve to drive consumers, and links, back to the site where the engagement and experience is richer, more informative, and more data mine-able to help you make better decisions about your website and your social campaigns.