Is Facebook Killing the Web Site?

MarkEvans
Mark Evans Principal, ME Consulting

Posted on August 16th 2010

In the past week, I’ve come across two though-provoking articles about the future of Web sites.

In AdAge, Pete Blackshaw asks whether we still need Web sites given the growing corporate use of Twitter, Facebook and “cool” applications.

Jay Baer, one of the most thought-provoking people in social media, suggests Facebook is killing Web sites. He declares that:

“Like print newspapers, basketball players under 6 feet tall, and the McRib sandwich, the website as we know it will soon be a thing of the past – a quaint reminder of the original Internet era.”

So, the question is whether Web sites are doing the way of the dinosaur? With social media becoming a way for companies to engage with existing and potential customers, do Web sites have a strong role to play?

While Baer may disagree, I believe Web sites will remain a vibrant corporate tool. But, like Blackshaw, I believe how Web sites are created and used will change to complement social media. Blackshaw talks about how Web sites will need to be agile, flexible and easy for people to leave feedback. He believes Web sites need to become a solid foundation upon which social media, e-commerce and mobile services leverage and support.

From the work I’m doing with clients, the evolution of Web sites is already happening. Rather than simply being places to get information about what a company offers or makes, Web sites need to engage, entertain and educate. A compelling Web site should encourage people to do something – ask for more information, watch a video, subscribe to a blog, “like” a Facebook Page, follow a Twitter account, or even purchase a product or service.

The messaging for Web sites (something I’ll post on later this week) needs to quickly and clearly capture the visitor’s attention, and tell them why they should stick around (aka What’s in it for me?). If a Web site fails to immediately deliver a company’s mission statement and value propositions, time-strapped and multi-tasking visitors will move on without thinking twice.

The reality for many companies is their Web sites will need to be overhauled or built from scratch. Before the global economy swooned, many companies didn’t think twice about their Web sites other than making minor changes. After all, there was little incentive to make changes when sales and profits were booming.

Today, however, the emergence of social media is prompting more companies to re-examine their Web sites, which have become tired, outdated and uninspiring.

It’s not that Web sites are going to disappear; it’s more that Web sites are going to need more than a fresh coat of paint to stay viable. Companies will think to re-think what they want their Web sites to do, and how they are going to be aligned with their social media efforts.

So, long live the Web (Site) 2.0!

MarkEvans

Mark Evans

Principal, ME Consulting

ME Consulting is a strategic communications and content consultancy that works with start-ups and fast-growing companies looking to drive their marketing, communications and content activities. Our services include core messaging, content development, business development, social media strategy and tactics, corporate videos and pitch creation so companies can effectively deliver messaging and stories that engage and resonate with target audiences. We’re hands-on and collaborative, and see ourselves as honest brokers and a trusted partner who bring a unique set of skills from working in the traditional media, start-up and social media worlds.
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Comments

Posted on August 16th 2010 at 4:07PM

Over the past couple of years, we have definitely transitioned our clients websites to be more engaging. Mostly by adding or re-building it on a Wordpress framework so we can have rss feeds pushing out, new content being added more often, connecting them to Facebook/Twitter, etc. It's not just one tool that gets the job done, it is your the whole set.

Posted on August 16th 2010 at 4:09PM

In my opinion your website is still central to your overall business on-line operations.  At least for us at the Arkansas State University Small Business Center all our social media is aimed at driving our readers to our website to do actual "business": connect with a consultant, sign up for a seminar, get information, etc.

No question incorporating Facebook, Twitter, blog and other social media sites has allowed us to reach more small businesses and driving to our website has increased traffic for it.  So I have to agree with you, websites aren't going away but for a lot of small businesses still using the website that was created for them 10 years ago they really do need a facelift to incorporate social media.  Thanks for the post.

Posted on August 16th 2010 at 7:09PM

This is a really great article - and something my team and I have been recently debating over with regard to our enterprise products.

We have a start-up company, called SpeedFeed Live, that provides P2P video chat products for the web. We just launched our Friend-to-Friend Video Chat app (like Skype on Facebook) and now shifting gears to work on our enterprise product. Since we have limited resources, we are trying to determine whether its better to focus our energy on; A) a video chat turnkey solution that can be downloaded to Facebook Fan Pages, or B) a video chat API plug-in that can be embedded into a website.

Websites seem to have more 'need' for unique tools that enhance customer engagement and create live interaction on their page, but Facebook is where all the "experimental" social attention is right now...

Any feedback or suggestions you might have as to where to focus our energy first would be excellent and most appreciate! Thanks so much! :) ~Mara

 

Mara Lewis

CEO and Co-Founder, SpeedFeed Live

SpeedFeed Video Chat App - http://apps.facebook.com/speedfeedlive/

SpeedFeed Live Fan Page - http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10213159#!/pages/SpeedFeed-Live/139129812789445?ref=ts

Posted on August 17th 2010 at 9:41AM

Who owns your content on Facebook - serious question that needs to be asked.

Realistically there is no need to abandon the website.  The company has much greater control of their brand and the experience they want to provide to users.

MattMooreWrites
Posted on August 17th 2010 at 1:10PM

Facebook does natively what sites have tried to do for years -- be a place for interaction, build affect about the brand, and allow passionate people to meet and communicate.

Twitter is also revolutionizing customer service.

But what neither can never replace are:

  • A comprehensive catalog of information. Websites will still be the searchable, sortable database of everything you want to know about a product. (At least, they should be.)
  • E-commerce. While there’s Marketplace, people will still want to buy and sell (and return and request service) from the source.