Is social media more important than a website?


According to statistics, Gen Z uses TikTok and Instagram over 60% more than Google to search for local businesses. Does that make social media more important than your website? In this article, I want to answer that question.

As someone whose rent is paid by building websites, you might expect me to hold some bias. Rest assured, my aim here is not to sell you a website. I want to understand the debate and provide the best possible advice. With that in mind, I will endeavour to remain unbiased. Together, we will explore the argument and see whether social media is more important than a website.

The case for having social media and no website

Marketing your business online has never been easier. There is no ceiling to what you can achieve using social media. It is a powerful tool that can skyrocket your reach and lead generation.

All major social media platforms are free. That means you can market your business to the world without spending a penny. A website cannot compete with that. While it is possible to run a low-cost website, it is rare to run it for free.

Social media makes it easy to grow a following and build your brand. It helps you find your niche and grow within it. If you create good content for your niche, followers inevitably follow. Using social media, you can leverage a relatively modest following to increase your income and customer base.

This process is not achievable as quickly or easily with a website. The principle with both is the same. The ability to go viral after one post is much harder through your website. Generally, finding a niche and building a following is a much slower process with website content.

In these modern times, the way to meet potential customers is often through their phones. The majority of people have a smartphone. Many of them use social media. People have never been more accessible. The chance to find an audience, build a following and promote your business has never been more favourable.

Example: A new cafe opening in a small community

Imagine a cafe opening in a small, local community. The cafe wants to find customers in the most cost and time-efficient manner. Their budget is relatively small. It makes absolute sense for them to focus on social media. It allows them to easily connect with locals and build a loyal customer base without spending a penny. 

The return on investment from a website would be too small to consider in these early stages. The budget and time constraints make creating social content a better option.

If social media is so powerful, what use is a website?

In a marketing seminar I attended, the speaker said every business should have a website. She claimed because most do, all should. That is false. Maintaining the status quo should never be used as an argument. Business and entrepreneurship are about challenging the status quo and problem-solving. With that in mind, I want to explain the problems that websites solve.

As business owners, we want to have as much control over the success of our business as we can. The more control we have, the greater our ability to manufacture success. Having a website gives you more control over your digital presence. Social media platforms come with their unique set of algorithms and rules that govern success. Your website plays by no one's rules. Your website is yours to use as you wish. You don't have to alter your messaging and strategy to satisfy a third party. You can focus entirely on you and building relationships with your customers.

One fundamental function of your website is to act as an information hub. It can house all the information a customer needs. Anything from contact information and legal policies to your products and team, you can include whatever you like. Social media platforms are not as effective in this regard. You can only fit so much in a bio or LinkTree. If there is more to your business than can fit into your social posts, put it on your website.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that while many people are active users of social media, many people are not. You may be missing out on customers by relying solely on social media. A website enables prospective customers to find you even if they don't use social media. Having a website makes you accessible to anyone using the internet, not just those on the platforms you post on.

Example: The local cafe has survived its first couple of years. Now, it is time to grow.

Let's look again at our local cafe example. Two years have passed. The cafe has been very successful and become a community hub. The locals love visiting the cafe. Through the success of its social media accounts, the cafe also attracts people visiting the local area to come for a coffee and croissant. The first two years have been a resounding success. The cafe owner now wants to build on that.

Through a website, they can explore new growth opportunities. Not only will the website act as an information hub for the cafe. It can also serve as a platform to sell merchandise and third-party products like coffee and honey. It can help promote events, giveaways and marketing campaigns. The possibilities are endless. With a loyal social media following to capitalise on, the return on investing in a website is greater now than when the cafe first opened.

Where does that leave us?

It is important to remember that it is not a choice of one or the other. Websites and social media accounts complement each other brilliantly. Utilising both will help a business grow far quicker than only one.

As a seller of website services, I am somewhat biased towards websites. The truth is that a website does not make sense for some people. A business in its early stages with little cash flow may not reap the benefits of a website straight away. Starting with social media may be the better choice. Social media can help build a customer base of loyal followers. Once your business grows, a website will be more beneficial.

Never discount one or the other. As a business owner, it is up to you to decide the best action to fit your circumstances. Whether you prioritise your website or socials is up to you. I would implore you not to be dogmatic. There are use cases for both. A hybrid approach will be far more effective in the long run. It is up to you to decide when is the right time to implement both.