Is a website necessary if you have a robust Facebook presence?

“People go to your Facebook page—not your website—to see what’s going on.”
Shane O’Neill, director of
social marketing and design
Fruchtman Marketing
Toledo, Ohio

Money Matters: Small to medium-size retailers might consider making Facebook their main online presence as a money-saving initiative. If all their site does is serve their local market by essentially having an online brochure, they could put the same information on Facebook with navigation features that are just as easy to use.

Future Shock: Right now Facebook is the category killer, but the one thing that could be the Facebook killer is the integration of all of the websites that make up a company’s online presence. There wouldn’t be a need for a website for company information and sales conversion, Facebook for social networking, Twitter for micro-blogging, and YouTube for video marketing. The next thing seems to be the integration of these platforms. Having your online presence on Facebook, and using all the tools the social media website offers, is an example of this type of integration and seems to be a natural progression at this point.

Rebel Jeweler in Portland, Ore., is one retailer which has opted for a Facebook page in lieu of a store website.

Custom Job: Facebook is becoming increasingly powerful with loads of features that give retailers the option to give their social media profile the look and feel of their store. Now that Facebook has integrated iFrames as the go-to customizable feature to replace FBML [Facebook Mark-up Language], we now have the option to incorporate fully functional HTML. Also, retailers can create a “homepage” just for new users. Facebook recognizes when new users want to look at your profile. They can be sent automatically to a Facebook welcome page before “liking” you. You can direct your company’s web address, or other URLs, to a specific Facebook page.

Just E-Looking: Small to medium jewelers really don’t need an e-commerce site. And whatever sales they lose by not offering online purchasing, even as a convenience, are negligible. If you’re not a big player and have no out-of-market sales, you can provide an e-commerce type service on Facebook by creating photo albums with product details and prices. Even younger customers who are comfortable buying online often look at an e-commerce site only for price points and then buy in store.

“Facebook should complement your website, not replace it.”
Alex Fetanat, president
Newport Beach, Calif.

Public Speaking: Not everyone in the country is on Facebook. If you only have a Facebook website, then people need a user name and a password to access your website and company information. You could be locking yourself out of a lot of market share. When you have a domain name and public website, you’re open to the public.

SEO-Challenged: Social media websites are not search engine–friendly like regular sites. There are certain Web design features you need to increase your visibility with search engine optimization—meta-tagging and incorporating proper keywords; on Facebook you can’t do this.

Seamless Stores: It’s vital for a retailer to have an online presence for a variety of reasons, but most important is to make sure customers’ online experience is similar to their in-store experience. Everything from color choices to design elements—even product image choices—must reinforce what customers see and know about your store. Facebook offers some design elements, but not to the extent a website does.

It’s Complementary, My Dear: Social media sites are where people socialize and network…not convert sales. Facebook, and Twitter to a lesser extent, should be a complement to a retailer’s main site. The purpose of these platforms is to drive traffic to your website, where people can get detailed information about the store and capture customer data. More important, it is where actual sales should be happening. Whether you’re a small to medium-sized store or larger, you should be offering e-commerce as a convenience at the very least for people who know your store well.

See It All: Social media sites are fairly limited in their ability to showcase product—perhaps a few pieces at most in photo albums. But on a website a retailer can upload entire collections as well as manufacturers’ products that complement what the store carries. Also, websites are better suited for today’s younger customers who want to create their own jewelry using online customization tools.