I've seen a lot of coverage come across the Twitter stream projecting how Fan Pages will eventually replace home websites. The features on many brand pages have many striking similarities as normal websites. The line between fan pages and traditional home pages are becoming increasingly blurred and I'm sure several companies will move almost all of their efforts to a fan page. This is totally doable. However, I'm an advocate of the knowledge that just because you can do something doesn't necessarily mean you should. While brand pages on Facebook have the potential to serve as very powerful marketing and brand awareness tools, they should not replace your home website. I repeat, they should not replace your home website. Only supplement it.
I've talked about how your home website should be the mothership of your social media efforts and even ripped JC Penny's new Facebook app a new one a while back. The topic of this post has been mulling around in my head for a week or two. More and more fan pages are beginning to reflect normal websites, just hosted on Facebook. In the beginning, these were innovative endeavors. Now I perceive these acts as just a lazy form of marketing. I wanted to know, why should I be a fan of a page? Do I get nothing more out of being a brand activist than what I would've gotten via a home website as a causal web surfer?
Then this weekend I took a listen to Mitch Joel's Six Pixels of Separation Podcast featuring a discussion between him and Mark W. Schaefer. One of the topics they raised pretty much nailed what was on my mind. They talked about how the access points of information are so diverse, between desktops, laptops, mobile phones and now tablet computers. Mitch talked about how viewing information on all these different devices can provide radically different experiences between each device. They also talked about how those experiences should be designed with particular devices in mind, that UX is not a one-size-fits-all approach. When talking about how the internet first started becoming big, one of them (don't remember who) mentioned how a lot of companies would just hand their corporate brochure to a web designer and say "put that online."
Brochures don't make for great websites. Replicating a brochure onto a website got people by for a while but it didn't prove to be a very effective marketing strategy. In the same way, your home website is a home website. It's not a one size-fits-all solution for a mobile app or a Facebook page. The content you put on your fan page should tailor to a Facebook audience. That content will be presented in a different way than it would on a mobile application or a traditional website. Simply transferring content from a traditional website and displaying it in the same manner across the board is the 2011 equivalent of a marketer asking a web developer to design a site exactly how a brochure is laid out way back in the day.
Also, ownership comes into question to me. You want to host all of your brand information on Facebook? You don't have the ownership like you would owning your own space. What would be more valuable to a business? Renting a space in a building or having a building that's all yours?
Different types of people consume content differently. Researching what content is relative to those different types of users is what will help your digital marketing efforts succeed. Put content out on your fan page relative to your Facebook users. A fan page that has unlimited content, in my opinion, diminishes in value. Exclusive content between audiences is what makes your marketing valuable.
Keep in mind that though there are 500 million people on Facebook, there are 5.5 billion that aren't. Unless you just don't want non-Facebook users to buy from you, Facebook being your home base isn't a good idea.
I do realize that I could be WAY off on all of this. What do you all think? Do you agree?
- Why I'm Not Sold on JCPenney's New Facebook App (brainwads.net)
- Social Media for Beginners: Facebook (socialmediatoday.com)
- Are Your Raving Fans Flocking to Your Facebook Page? (blogs.constantcontact.com)