So long Web site, hello social media

May 1, 2013

Justin Bazan, OD, tells why he abandoned his practice Web site in favor of social media. According to Dr. Bazan, social media outshines Web sites and adds features that Web sites could never incorporate as effectively.

Because we do business in a digital age, it’s clear that having a presence online is essential. More than 2 years ago, I eliminated my traditional Web site from this equation. Without having to address the inherent problems surrounding legacy Web site design, I was able to create a highly effective online presence using the free tools of social media (SM). For me to have an impactful Web site, I would have had to continue spending thousands of dollars on the design, hundreds more to keep it running, and even more money on search engine optimization (SEO). It just seemed unnecessary when there were so many new, free, easy-to-use online tools that did things better than my Web site.

Facebook (FB), YouTube (YT), blogs, and user review sites were doing things that even the best Web sites still struggle to do: attract and engage people. So long Web site, hello SM. Since focusing my efforts on SM, the results have been outstanding, and I have not had one inquiry about where my Web site went. (Keep in mind, it was a pretty cool Web site!) My Web site never changed the way I practiced, but SM has for sure.

Revelation, revolution

SM is the single biggest shift in the communications paradigm that we have seen in our lifetime. For the first time in the history of communications, we see a platform that allows many people to communicate with many other people all at the same time. Think about it. Your Web site was a one-to-many type of design. You put up info, many people saw it, and a dialogue was nearly impossible. Now think about your FB page. You put up info, many people see it, but now many people comment, like it, or share it. Right away, with just that one feature FB has evolved the Internet beyond where any Web site had previously taken it.

There is no turning back. SM is a better way of online communication. Why? Because engagement allows you to attract new fans and retain current fans with unprecedented results. Seriously think about the following scenario. Let’s say that your eye doctor has a top-notch Web site and an impressive FB page. How often do you really think you’ll visit the practice Web site? Probably only when you need some info. Now, how about if you saw engaging posts from your eye doc pop up frequently in your FB newsfeed? Chances are you might engage a few, but even if you don’t, your eye doc still got into your mind. SM clearly trumps a traditional Web site in this scenario.

One of the biggest advantages is how important and powerful SM is when it comes to getting found online. Before SM sites, you had to have a Web site to be found. It was your online shingle. It was your online spot as where you could advertise, much like the way you had to do offline with traditional media, such as the Yellow Pages. You often times had to pay for SEO in order to rank high in the search results. When a Web site was all we had, it certainly was great. Now that we have better, we can do better. There is nothing a Web designer can do that you cannot find being done more effectively-and for free-via one of the many SM platforms. Search engines love content that is keyword rich, fresh, and of high value. SM is the king of this content, so it’s no wonder why I have seen my SM sites rise to the top of the search heap. Sure, my Web site used to rank up there but it has not been missed because my SM sites occupy many of those top spots now. And I didn’t have to continually pay anyone for SEO!

Image is everything

We must also realize SM tools, such as FB, have completely reinvented the way our businesses are represented online. Web sites are simply limited in their ability to give our business a persona. Sure, you can create one to represent the look and feel of your brand, but it’s merely cosmetic. A professional Web site is the glamor shot. It’s you after plastic surgery, wearing designer clothes, standing next to a rented Lamborghini in a photo shoot. Sure, it’s your “best you,” but its not the “real” you. The real you is who we would catch in jeans and a T-shirt on Wednesday afternoon on your way to pick up the kids. For a small independent practitioner in today’s world, the real you is what counts. SM is the real you. For the first time in the history of business, we see FB give our business a true persona that can interact not only with people, but also with other businesses. That is epic.

We have enjoyed tremendous success using FB to build relationships with other businesses. This is simply impossible to do with a traditional Web site. Your FB page gives an up-to-date snapshot of your business life. People and other businesses learn about your company through its actions and engagement. All the traditional info found on an archaic Web site is there, but it is enriched and enhanced with the overlay of a SM experience.  For example, let’s say your office had a great event last night featuring a local artist. Think about what you had to do to get this on a Web site. Hire a professional photographer to cover it. Pay your Web guy to put up the pics. That takes time and money. Think about how that would go down on FB. People come, take pics, and post them on FB, and tag your business. The content is instantly and automatically updated to your FB page. You may also choose to do the same. All of this content is instantly seen by many people and very often liked, commented on, and shared. You then store it on your FB page in your photo section for people to see at a later date.

That reminds me of how frustrating it is to visit a Web site for the first time. Nothing seems to be where I expect it to be. On a FB page, everything has a standard home, which makes finding what I’m looking for easy.

SM has made the traditional Web site obsolete. SM outshines these outmoded online communication platforms and adds features that Web sites could never incorporate as effectively. 

Businesspeople must focus on optimizing an SM presence. A Web site is not an essential part of that effort. Just remember that it’s ok to let go of the past.ODT