Everyone wants an easy and cheap way to get the word out about their small business, and social media is one of those easy and cheap ways. While it is ONE of the ways, it is best used as part of the plan. Social media is best used as one tool out of the whole tool box that you will need to build your online presence.
A social media account will give you another place to display your business, but being seen is not guaranteed because you simply created the account. You are immediately limited to the users of each particular platform, and then, if you do reach them, you could easily be lost in the flood of posts from similar business or from the friends of users, which is the main reason they are on social media in the first place, as it has been found that most people come to social media to view pictures and videos. In fact, only 15% of people find products or shop on Facebook, 11% on Instagram, 7% on Twitter, and only 5% on Snapchat. So just because you can promote your business on these platforms, learning about businesses or products isn't a very high priority for social media users. In addition, nearly one out of every five people aged 30-49 have no social media at all, and one out of ten people aged 18-29 have no social media presence. Besides these demographics, only 30% of people report that they trust social media due to privacy concerns. If you lean solely on social media, you will absolutely miss out on these potential customers.
There are other downsides to existing solely on social media platforms such as being subject to random algorithm changes that can hinder users from seeing your posts as readily as they may have in the past, and since you have no ownership as you would with a website, there is nothing you can do about it. Another downside is that you do not actually have ownership of what you post on social media, this means that what you publish on these accounts can be used without your consent, and potentially in ways that may not align with how you want you business to be promoted. Not only this, but because it is not your own website, you are subject to the rules of the social media platform, which can mean not being able to display certain things that are important to your business.
Another problem is that an "easy" and "cheap" way to start your online presence isn't always easy or cheap. You may have that free account, but your visibility on Facebook and other social media sites is determined by your paid ads, and even then, with the everchanging algorithms on social media sites, you may have a not so easy time getting consistent results. On top of potentially inconsistent results in views, you have to maintain a consistent presence on the platform to reach potential costumers. When a user sees that you do not post often enough on social media, and especially so when you do not have a website they can check out afterwards, they will find you less credible than businesses with an active presence and up to date website and will move on to seek information about them instead.
These points prove why social media alone isn't enough to boost your business up above all the others with social media accounts, though it still can be a valuable when used in conjunction with a website created for you by a professional web developer or web development team. First of all, users expect a social media account for a business to lead back to a website and 84% consider those that do not have a website to be less credible than those that do. It simply shows that your business is willing to do more than just sign up for a free account, and that it is a serious business. Another point to remember is that most people research a business on Google before making a purchasing decision, and with over 3.5 billion searches on Google daily, without the professional SEO skills you will gain with a professional web development team, social media alone will miss a large amount of potential users.
Even though there are search functions on social media sites, it is still difficult for users to find you unless they already have an interest in your business. With proper SEO, not only will your website become easier to find, it has been found that 84% of people who liked a businesses' page on Facebook were former customers, so it is important to be found well before they find you on social media. When your website is found, it can be so much easier for the user to learn the important information about your business than if they were weeding through a menagerie of posts from everyone on a social media platform. With a social media account, you are stuck with a small bio or "about" section, and potentially a place to pin an important post. With a website, you will be able to prominently display any information you want about your business, anywhere. A professional web development team can also help you to display things that are impossible to add to your social media account, such as online ordering, scheduling, menus, downloads, podcasts, payment processing, email marketing, and more.
While social media seems like a good tool, and it is to a point, 54% of business owners use email marketing (which goes hand in hand with a professionally developed website), 51% market with their website, and only 48% market with social media. In addition to those numbers, 82% of small business owners in the US consider their website to be integral to their success and 93% of all experiences that users have online start out with a search engine. Without paid ads, social media has no chance of providing that level of success to a growing business. It has also been recently found that there has been a 54% boost in reported website traffic since quarantines have been put into place. So, even now when it seems that everyone is on social media, having a website built for your business with professional design, development, and SEO skills is still very much the most important tool in your businesses' online strategy toolbox.