Four reasons why Facebook will never replace a website

Four reasons why Facebook will never replace a website

I predicted several years ago that Facebook was attempting to make business websites obsolete. Through its Facebook Pages, the social media giant was offering businesses more and more ways to promote themselves and build communities that I believed some businesses would eventually be able to work without a website, and operate solely on the Facebook platform.

I still think Facebook wants to go down this route, but there are a few reasons why I now believe this will never come to pass – and they’re all due to the issues Facebook creates for itself.

Here are the reasons why I believe this will never fully happen, and that businesses should always use their website first and foremost, and only use Facebook as a marketing tool for their website.

1. Facebook algorithm changes

This is the hot topic among Facebook marketers. In the old days, around three years ago, you could post updates to your Facebook page and have them seen by pretty much everyone who liked your page (they were called ‘fans’ back then).

This meant that having a large number of likes on your page meant your reach was just as big when you posted anything. It was worth having. Companies would spend marketing budgets increasing their Facebook Page’s reach because they knew they were building a community they could market to.

However, Facebook didn’t like this. It wasn’t making money from the pages that already had a large audience. It wanted a slice. To make this happen, Facebook altered the algorithm so posts made by pages didn’t show as often in people’s feeds. Any post made to your page suddenly lost its reach, meaning it was seen by far fewer people. This reduced business produced from pages, making the large audiences some pages had attracted almost useless.

Pages were now unable to reach any audience without paying to boost the posts. So much for Facebook helping the small business!

2. Facebook Instant Articles’ change in requirements

Much like Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) where content is held on Google in a stripped down form for speed of loading, Facebook has Instant Articles. Through Instant Articles you can have simplified versions of your website’s blogs cached on Facebook, so they load instantly when someone clicks on a link shared on Facebook through a mobile device.

The Instant Articles feature is accessed through your Facebook Page, and you need to apply to be included before it can go live. There are some technical requirements, and there are some content requirements as well. You need a minimum of 10 articles to be considered, and you need to set up your feed so that it connects directly with Facebook. Once it has been set up and made live, you should see your content displayed perfectly using Facebook’s Instant Articles platform.

This was all well and good, and was something we recommended for each client. However, last month Facebook made a huge change to the requirements and didn’t tell anybody. Not only that, but it hasn’t actually revealed what the new requirements are.

There are now ‘traffic’ levels that have to be maintained. If your content is not receiving enough views, you will be removed from the platform. How many views you need is anybody’s guess, but one of the people complaining on the ‘help’ section (which is a very inaccurate word for it as they don’t help) ran a page with over 20,000 likes. Therefore, unless your page has more than 20,000 likes, the chances are you won’t be receiving enough traffic to stay on the platform.

So, Facebook has moved the goalposts with no warning, and hasn’t even said where it’s put the damn goalposts. Also, it has once again kicked the small business firmly between the legs as it only wants the larger Facebook pages to use its Instant Articles feature.
Facebook could charge at any moment

Now I’m not saying it ever will, nor am I suggesting there’s a chance I think it will, but it could. Facebook could, at any point, decide to charge for running a business page. This means that the effort you put into building the audience on your business page could leave you having to pay Facebook to keep using it.

You don’t have the control, certainly not in the same way as you would with your own website and your own community. How can you rely on something that could charge if it wanted to, and you would have absolutely no recourse?

3. Facebook change in Ad targeting

Thanks to GDPR, everyone’s favourite subject at the moment, Facebook has just announced it’s changing the way targeting options work for adverts. Certain demographics for the UK derived by third parties (such as Cambridge Analytica, we can assume) will stop being used before May 26. This means you’ll lose targeting options such as ‘homeowners’.
The ability to target these demographics is essential for some businesses and, with no warning, they will no longer be able to do so. If their business success relies on these targeting options, they’ll be pretty stumped by this move.

With targeting options changing thanks to EU laws and whistleblowing news stories, what else can Facebook change without warning?

4. Facebook owns your audience

The final reason should be the biggest one of all – you don’t own anything on Facebook, Facebook does. It owns the platform, it owns your page and it owns your access to your audience. No matter how much you use your business page, no matter how much you have spent on advertising, no matter how many ‘customers’ or likes you have on Facebook it is NOT, and has never been, yours.

What Facebook giveth it can taketh away. Aren’t you better off having all of this under your own control?

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 20 years’ experience in these fields.

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