This weekend I came across an article asking the provocative question, “Will social kill websites?” It referred to exciting changes in the world of social media, including how Facebook and other platforms are increasingly offering users the ability to view content inside the platform without having to visit the original site. It warned of proliferating ad-blockers, vastly decreased click-through rates and the possibility of a decline in web traffic.
That’s all very exciting and it has relevance for accounting firms and those who market them. However, the answer to the question is still a resounding “NO!” No, social will not kill websites, and here are three good reasons.
- More web users. Every day, more people begin turning to the internet to access information they used to seek out in other ways. Even my 83-year old mother is checking online first for what she needs, having finally grasped the difference between a browser window and an email (a long and grueling journey for both of us). It’s not a matter of chance that internet speeds are increasing and broadband service is reaching further into the hinterlands – everyone wants and uses it!
- Less time. Internet speeds aren’t the only things getting faster these days. Most people find themselves with more things to do and less time in which to do it. The service economy and lingering results of the Great Recession combine to create a higher number of Americans who work two or even three jobs. Kids still have to be driven to school, soccer, science camp and all the rest. Laundry and raking must still be accomplished on a regular basis. Traffic certainly isn’t magically evaporating. People are in a hurry, and they need information when they can use it – late at night, or on weekends. They don’t have time to shop around in person now, if they ever did. They rely on websites to give them the information they need about all sorts of service providers, including whether your firm is going to provide the quality and fit they’re looking for.
- Higher expectations. The internet has been around awhile now. Folks have gotten used to finding out about business of every kind online, and the expectation is that any legitimate organization will have a functional website to provide all the information potential clients or customers might want to see. They’ve also come to equate better sites with better overall performance, which may not be entirely true but is still a good rule of thumb. More importantly, it’s a pattern that most people depend on, so if your firm is to compete, it needs to show up in searches and deliver the goods on the site itself.
By all means, use social media if you have the capacity, and use it well. I strongly encourage it! Social can enhance your overall marketing efforts and accomplish many important goals. It offers you a chance to…
- Engage audiences in real time
- Share relevant content with followers
- Help your content go farther
- Have useful dialogues with colleagues and experts
- Demonstrate your thought leadership in a public forum
- Participate in conversations with clients and potential clients
- Network with other financial professionals
- Show your personality and sense of humor
…and a host of other wonderful things.
What it cannot do is replace your online home, the center of your digital presence: your website. You may love visiting friends and relatives, attending community meetings and participating in group activities, but you still need a home of your own, right? That’s where your mail finds you, and your treasures are stored. It’s where you entertain guests and invite new friends, so they can really understand who you are. It’s where you live.
In the end, social comes and goes, but websites are for keeps.