Is Facebook the New Web Site?

According to this article from, some companies have scrapped their web sites (or not developed them in the first place) to rely solely on Facebook to serve as their web presence. To me, that sounds like a terrible idea for several reasons and as I recall someone, somewhere saying: "Don’t build your house on rented land." (OK, it was something to that effect — don’t remember it verbatim. I’m not a parrot.) Since it’s the side I agree with, here’s the "Cons" portion of the argument. However, read the entire article and see if you agree:

Even with cost and ease in mind, ditching a company website and relying entirely on Facebook is “a bad idea,” says social media and Internet marketing consultant Anthony Kirlew.

“It puts the business completely in the hands of Facebook,” he says. “If Facebook changes, they are now subject to their rules. If they break some rule and their content goes away, they generally would not have a backup like a website that could quickly be uploaded to a new hosting provider.”

Philippa Gamse, social media strategy consultant and author of “42 Rules for a Web Presence that Wins,” agreed. “I have an example in my book of a small business which was banned from Facebook for seven months after building a nice following,” she says. “The owner thinks it was because a competitor reported him as abusive. Whatever the truth of this, you can’t call Facebook and get things resolved, and they don’t ask for proof of any abuse reports.”

By contrast, she adds, “Only you can take down your website.”

Gamse says companies that sell things online should probably keep their websites, because research shows people don’t go to Facebook to make big buying decisions.

Although many people visit Facebook daily, Kirlew stresses that not everyone goes there. “There are plenty of people who are not on and never will be on Facebook,” he says. “This includes executives and other professionals who simply don’t have the inclination toward it.”

Even executives who have Facebook presences may never see your messages, Kirlew says, because they have staffers who manage those pages for them.

Is Your Company’s Web Site Annoying Your Visitors?

Gone are the days of being greeted at web sites by dancing hamsters (unfortunately) and similarly gaudy pieces of clip art, but that doesn’t mean web sites still aren’t ticking people off. E-Releases has some useful info about what may be sticking in the e-craw of some of your visitors:

Here are 7 things that annoy website visitors.

1. Slow loading times – I’ve seen studies that say internet users give a website 8 seconds to grab their attention. If it doesn’t satisfy them during that short time period, they’ll back out and go elsewhere.  People are impatient. That’s why it’s so important to have a fast loading website. Here’s a good post with tips for increasing website loading speed.

2. Autoplay music or video – Seriously, this isn’t 1998. If your website starts playing music or video as soon as someone lands on it, you can bet more people than not will leave. It’s intrusive and annoying. Give visitors the option of playing the music or video. Don’t force it on them.

3. Cluttered layouts – Have you ever walked into a messy room and tried to find something? It’s overwhelming, right? The same thing goes for a cluttered website layout. If every single space on your website is filled, you’re going to overwhelm visitors and make it too difficult for them to use your site. Remember, less is usually more, and white space is your friend.

4. Poor navigation – Internet users have grown accustomed to using websites in a specific manner. They expect the navigation to be along the top or left-hand side of the page. They expect the navigation to be clear and the website to be organized in a logical manner. Don’t try to change this up. Keep it simple.

5. Forced registration – Look, I understand you want to collect data for marketing purposes from your visitors. But there’s nothing more frustrating than forcing visitors to register before they can take certain actions. Most people don’t like giving out a lot of their personal information, so you’re only going to drive them away by doing this.

6. No contact information – Your visitors shouldn’t have any problems getting in touch with you. You should have a dedicated contact page on your website, contact forms throughout, and you can even post your phone number or other contact info on each page of your website.

7. Too much Flash – There’s nothing wrong with having some minor Flash elements in your website, but when your entire site is based in Flash, you’re going to have some problems. First, you’re losing most mobile internet users. And then you run into problems with simple usability issues like bookmarking pages, clicking the back button, etc.

What are some other things that annoy you on websites?

Retail Sales Down? Try Getting Mobile

Ever since I stepped into the now, so to speak, and got a smartphone, I’ve been much more aware of the need for businesses to have mobile web sites. Even when I’m at home — why not use my Blackberry when my computer is all the way in the other room? (Some call it lazy; I call it resourceful.) At any rate, offers some food for thought that may help your retail sales climb in 2011:

Retailers without a mobile-optimized website may be missing out on sales. According to recent research from mobile and social marketing consultancy Brand Anywhere and Luth Research, 51% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from retailers that have a mobile site. But fewer than 5% of retailers have such a site.

Which retailers would benefit most? According to the study, the product categories most likely to attract mobile-commerce customers include auto dealerships (88% of mobile phone users); auto parts (65%); furniture (62%); florists (61%); jewelry, luggage and leather goods (60%); liquor (50%); sporting goods, books, hobby and music (49%); and clothing and shoes (47%). However, all categories in the study would benefit to some degree.

In February 2010, Multichannel Merchant found nearly 80% of multichannel retailers had no m-commerce presence at all, and April research from eROI showed fewer than one-quarter of marketers overall had a mobile-optimized website.

Will Our Web Sites Become Obsolete? (Hold Me)

If you’re like us at the Chamber, you took rebuilding your web site very seriously. We assembled a team of enthusiastic, in-the-know folks from various departments, each of whom offered what they wanted to see on our new (as of 2008) web site.

Now, however, social media consultant Jay Baer contends on his Convince & Convert blog that thanks to Facebook, our web sites may not even be relevant much longer. He asserts:

Like print newspapers, basketball players under 6 feet tall, and the McRib sandwich, the website as we know it will soon be a thing of the past – a quaint reminder of the original Internet era.

Who killed the website? Facebook, of course.

Ironically, Facebook itself started as humble website. But, for all its foibles and fairytales, its growth and groan-inducing missteps, Facebook and its leadership have known for a long time that websites are yesterday’s technology – they are just now getting around to twisting the knife.

Do You “Like” Me in Attack Mode?
Facebook is waging a three-pronged war on websites. The first front is the battle of expectations. Here, the objective is to change the way we think about information exchange online. Historically, we read “Web pages”. Now, the move is toward “social objects” which are invariably smaller, more directed pieces of content. Like a fussy deconstructed salad at a downtown restaurant with ridiculous unisex bathrooms, Facebook wants us to publish in tiny bursts of words, pictures, videos, and single purpose apps, rather than the page-length containers and complicated databases of yore.

Incidentally, this is why Google is so afraid of Facebook. Google has made a couple of dollars by reading and ranking Web pages. If the standard unit of publication becomes something other than the page, but rather smaller social objects like status updates and photos being published and ranked in real-time, Google’s role in that equation is diminished.

Facebook took a major (yet curiously underreported) move in this direction last week, when they enabled companies to publish to Facebook members’ news feeds for anyone that has “liked” a Web page…

If You Can’t Beat Em, Should You Join Em?
I have said on this very blog that I was dubious about putting too many eggs in Facebook’s basket, because you’re essentially building your marketing program on rented land. And I still feel that way. The amount of control Facebook has (or will have) over the data and interactions on the global Web is truly unprecedented (and I trust them even less than Google). But, if your old house is abandoned and full of mice and cobwebs, a shiny new house – even on rented land – may start looking pretty inviting.

RIP websites. It was great while it lasted.

This is all very intriguing and a bit alarming. If this were to happen, I wonder what the time frame would be. Time will tell, I suppose. But please "Like" us on Facebook just in case.

Web Site Woes for Obama, McCain

Two expert studies resulted in the following headline: "Web sites of both presidential candidates fail to connect with users." After a quick review of the Barack Obama and John McCain Internet homes, I agree with the people who do this work and analysis for a living.  

Clutter, lack of clear labels and the ability to easily navigate to some common tasks are among the challenges. Given the fact that more web sites than not struggle with some of those same issues, the results are not surprising.

The Obama campaign has been lauded for raising money and reaching people. But if you want to learn more about the Democrat’s positions on the issues, it takes a little searching. I’m also troubled by the labels attached to different groups under the "People" header.

The ongoing Republican convention only added to the McCain clutter. Are there really 15 or more Photos of the Week that deserve front page placement? While the overall site might be more user-friendly than Obama’s, the poor first impression undoubtely turns away many visitors.

Government has the overview and the expert comments.