Eric Prinsloo and Gregory Rule from Select Web answer the question
Eric began the talk by saying that you cannot survive in today’s business environment if you are not online in some form and correctly positioned. Eric has been designing websites for over twenty years and has seen the fashions and fads of these come and go over time. Their business as website designers is constantly evolving and they have to continually re-invent themselves to stay up to date with what is happening in the digital sphere; it is not a static environment.
Eric handed over to Greg, who dealt with the question – do websites still work in the age of social media? People are constantly bombarded with posts from Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and numerous other social media outlets. People think that social media is “where it’s all at”, but websites are more relevant than ever in today’s world of social media. We cannot get away from social media, but websites bring these together as a hub, where you can market and expand your brand and your business. The website is crucial to performing that function.
Social media is great, but what about websites?
Monthly figures show that there are over 2.2 billion active Facebook users, Instagram has approximately 100 million active users, and WhatsApp, a ubiquitous free chat application, is growing. LinkedIn is aimed at professionals and has around 465 million active users. Where does this leave the website?
Websites continue to have a place for both businesses and ‘solopreneurs’ – entrepreneurs including authors where you can use the hub to build a brand.
You can think of communication, including email, blog posts, social media, etc., like the spokes of a wheel, with the website as the hub.
The website enables you to harness leads, opportunities, write blogs for a growing audience as well as handle sales. Social media is important but in a supporting role. The website is the star of the show, this is key for your communications. It is not possible to email Twitter followers without having access to their email addresses. These, however, can be harvested via a newsletter subscription, enabling you to communicate better with your market to promote your business. It enables you to keep your clients up to date with current events.
Speaking to your audience
A website allows you to track user behaviour. Social media platforms including Facebook and LinkedIn have ‘insights’, a website has Google Analytics embedded in the code of your website, allowing you to gather intelligence about your market; who they are, where they come from, what device are they using to access your website, what age they are, etc. This information allows you to speak to your audience in a way they can understand and that is relevant to them.
Social media platforms are ‘rented space’, you have to conform to how the platform looks and follow the rules. A website allows you to be in control – the look, the feel and the message allow you to build your own brand. Many websites have e-commerce functionality, whereas social media outlets do not.
A website allows you to establish your credibility as a business and it creates value for your audience. There is also value in buying and registering a website domain. It is all about building an asset.
Eric then spoke about a digital strategy. He said that you cannot do one thing in isolation and expect things to happen. Everything is inter-related and the more you do, the better your digital platform performs for you and your business. Your website is your digital home.
A generic website address does not speak to your professionalism. If you do not have a website, any potential client will move on and find your competitor.
We thank both Eric and Greg most sincerely for their time and insights. They can be contacted at https:// www.selectweb.co.za/.