Cover art for video: Abandon ShipThis article: Four Reasons to Jettison the Traditional Website and Go Social by Christian Briggs for Marketing Profs stopped me in my tracks (proverbially) yesterday. I had to check it out. Was someone actually advocating dumping your own paid-for, customized website in favor of only maintaining a presence on social sites like Facebook, Twitter and so on?

Oh! What he starts to say is that the big companies, like Coca-Cola, are integrating more social media platforms into their existing websites. Okay, so the headline is misleading. He’s not saying dump your website or abandon ship (see silly video cover art); he’s saying make it more social, more up-to-date.

What doesn’t come through in this awkwardly worded article is the point he fails to make clearly: You make all this effort to update your social media pages by Sharing content on Facebook or tweeting or Pinning to your boards in Pinterest, but you can’t do that easily to your own website. But it’s your own website that really needs to look like it’s lively and busy…which is what’s happening on social sites.

If you have a WordPress website, you can, in fact, write a blog post with the same data you’re putting on Facebook. But it isn’t nearly as easy (or legal) to Share that photo from halfway around the world from Facebook to your own website. Further, the formatting likely isn’t nearly as attractive as it may appear on Facebook or Pinterest. (There are plug-ins galore available, however, to make your own WordPress websites function somewhat more like these platforms.)

Yes, the more you update your own custom website, the more you increase the chances your search engine results will likely improve.

Yes, the more you share valuable content on your website the greater the possibility you will attract your ideal client type.

Yes, the greater the engagement (i.e. comments) on your own website the more you will build credibility for your business.

You may get all those things, but should you upgrade your site to make it happen? Here are a few trends I’ve been noticing:

  1. More folks promote their blogs on Facebook and Twitter (and Pinterest). As a result, folks go read them. But the change of habit here is in the commenting on the blog post. Most used to comment on the blog site. Now folks seem to return more to Facebook to post their comments than on the blog site. Further, many sites have incorporated a Facebook commenting utility on their sites so that the comments are seen in both places.
  2. Including forms of social share buttons (such as the floating vertical bar I use on my site) are essential to promote interaction. (And I could do quite a bit more to encourage engagement.)
  3. The action continues to be and is growing on social sites. It’s like a central market in town where anyone and everything can be found. If your stall is shut for business, you’re losing out. Period.

How do you make the switch from talking at your audience on your website to talking with them?

  1. Don’t abandon your custom website for all the bells and whistles of social sites. You must maintain a place YOU own and not be reliant on the sudden whims of format changes, surprise shutdowns and discontinuations of utility services you loved. (Remember the Wall?)
  2. Some folks make their blog page act as home page. And some divide their home page up into “columns” like a newspaper, giving their blog a space – but not all – on the home page.
  3. Review your site’s copy. Does it encourage feedback and conversation? Is there an opportunity for customers to interact with you on almost every page? (This should include a Call-to-Action on every page in the form of “Call Today” or “Submit your contact info” if you want to learn more.)
  4. Use as many images as you can. They do not all have to be product shots. (Banks don’t use photos of money! They use tons of stock photos of happy families because they have money!)
  5. Create contests and games that require fans to interact with BOTH your Facebook page and your website. Make them hunt for clues on your product pages so they’ll learn about what you offer.

The comments on Marketing Profs responding to the writer’s recommendations were solidly against his advice to abandon the owned website, whether large or small company. This was reassuring to read as we don’t want everyone abandoning their websites for the whims of the design team at Facebook! But it’s a sober reminder that what’s working on the internet are interactive sites and pages; these are the things that speed the attraction of prospects to your business to increase ROI and decrease the cost of lead generation.