I’ve noticed over the last few years from working in the arts and humanities worlds that some businesses and organizations use social media sites – like Facebook – as primary websites. By that, I mean the business or organization doesn’t have its own destination website and uses a social media site as its sole presence on the web.
I assume it’s because social networking sites are great for marketing and outreach; how else can you reach literally billions of users on the internet? And for free?
I know that Facebook and other social media sites are easy to use, because they are engineered to be used by people of all ages and technical abilities. Log in, point and click, and you’re connecting with everyone. Someone can quickly get their business or organization or artwork out there for users to view and share without having to deal with the nuts and bolts of a “real” website.
But a site based on social media won’t be quite professional enough for a business or organization to use as a sole destination website. That’s because social networking sites focus on people’s interests and what they wish to pass around to their friends and acquaintances. And as a result, a Facebook web page can be very cluttered with users and comments and links, all distracting from the main mission of the page and the focus of the business or organization.
But most importantly, it’s not possible to control what appears on a Facebook page or what Tweets are listed in a Twitter feed. What appears is what everyone else wants and what anyone wants to say, and you may find that some content might not be appropriate to your organization.
All businesses and organizations need social media. But they also need a professional internet “landing place,” separate from social media – one that provides a web presence that is under your control. But a real website for your business or organization can be as easy to set up as Facebook, and be free, too. And you may not even need a local teenager to help with the technical side of things.
There are many businesses out there that provide free websites as a service, but about the best is called WordPress. Using WordPress.com is an easy and free way to get a website going. You will also be able to “connect” the site with all the different social media services and benefit from that exposure while at the same time maintain- ing a stable and professional looking website for your business or organization.
WordPress is easy to learn and is expandable, too. And if you grow out of WordPress.com, you’re not “locked in” and won’t find your images and content difficult to retrieve. All you need to sign up and start a site is an email address. I’ll explain the different WordPress.com options next issue.