Digital media can be confusing – to very smart people, no less. I “see” this confusion sometimes when I hear people mention “social media” but what they are really talking about is their website. Or vice versa. But these two are not the same thing.
So which is more important? More effective? Websites or Social Media?
Websites and Social Media Do Not Do the Same Things
Websites and social media serve different purposes.
However, there is also an overlap. Websites and social media both:
- Display your brand for audiences to see.
- Are forums for expressing your expertise via content such as articles, blogs, infographics, and videos.
- Require a commitment of time and “content investment” for them to deliver on the investment made.
But here are some ways they differ from each other:
- A website is a place to “broadcast” your ideas and expertise, whereas social media is like a cocktail party. Yes, you should “talk” about yourself on social media, but if you don’t “listen” to others (engage with them – like, comment, share), you won’t be as successful as you could be.
- Social media is “rented” space, whereas you own your own website. Social media companies don’t own your content, but by signing up to use the social media platform, you grant the social media company a license to use your copyrighted work in whatever way they see fit. (Learn more from Adam Weissman’s article, “Who Owns Your Social Media Content?”) I’ve never seen this right abused, but it’s something to be aware of.
- Your website belongs on a domain you own (“mywebsite.com”) whereas social media belongs on domains such as linkedin.com, facebook.com, etc. Since you can do whatever you want on your own domain, why bother with social media? Easy: because that’s where the people are. Over 930 million people are on LinkedIn, and over 134 million of them use it every day.
- People use social media every day. But to find your website, they often use social media to get there. They also do Google or Bing searches and find your website via search results. (Appearing high in search results is the art and science of Search Engine Optimization – SEO.)
- Every social media platform wants to make money (off of you). That’s no sin. (It’s capitalism!) But what this does mean is that the motive of these platforms is first and foremost to make money for themselves, not to help you out. Their Algorithms which govern whether your content appears to people are built for their profit, first. Not your interests.
- You can get on social media immediately – it’s pretty easy. But building a serious, high-performing website is an investment. That doesn’t mean it needs to be a monster investment, but there is a higher barrier to entry to learn to build and maintain websites vs managing social media. Having a high-performing website can be a differentiator in every market.
- Social media can be excellent for achieving short term gains, such as connecting with an old or prospective client. But steadily publishing content to a thoughtfully built website can turn you into a “go to” expert in your field in online searches, with long-lasting results.
The bottom line: This Is Not an Either/Or Issue
With the world communicating on social media, it’s important to be there and understand how to publish content and engage with your audiences. But it’s also important to own your own space and content, and that happens in the digital world through websites.