The question posed in the AskInc. column was “How essential is it for startup businesses to have a website?”
Most respondents were pro, with the few highly qualified cons.
No one suggested an alternative. So I did.
I put a different argument on the table, pointing out that in today’s Social Media-prominent world, isn’t the real question “How essential is it for startup businesses to have a blog?”
Hoping to engage in a more provocative discussion, I posted a slightly shorter version of the following:
Web sites have their merits, but I am finding it harder to believe that the standard arguments will hold. There are a lot of cons to the complications and costs generated on a Web site’s back end.
We are moving toward the expiration date on complicated content management systems (CMS) that over-promise and under-deliver. And the CMS black box mentality often used as a shield by IT management to distract users from major shortcomings. Either in the system or themselves. Anyone else tired of being held hostage? Bring on social media and blogs!
But the greater justification is that external expectations have changed.
More and more, today’s businesses are asked, “Do you have a blog?” “Are you on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn?”
And the most damaging to brand reputation? Answering “No,” “No” and “No.”
Startups simply have no excuses not to consider how to integrate social media into their marketing strategy.
Social media offers an immediate, cost-effective, flexible and effective marketing platform for startup businesses. Social media also offers the potential of a much greater return on investment than “traditional” marketing channels – a category that now includes Web sites.
Using a blog as its linchpin, a startup business can leverage social media technologies to:
- Find out where their target market hangs out online
- Listen to learn and validate specific needs and concerns
- Engage to acknowledge those concerns, build a relationship and promote trust
- Exchange to maintain ongoing dialog via blog posts, guests posts and discussions.
All at comparatively minimal investment of time and money. And with the ability to broadcast instantaneously across multiple channels. With the possibility of a post, comment or campaign going viral.
It can’t be stressed enough how social media has leveled the playing field. The Davids of the business world can now compete with the Goliaths – and are actually more nimble when it comes to adapting and responding.
Branding has become less about a “Flash-y” Web design and more about establishing a genuine connection with the current/potential customer, investor, employee.
Compared to the standard Web infrastructure, blogs are liberating, backed by a technical framework that is starting to take on greater levels of flexibility and functionality. Know that Web sites and blogs will, out of necessity, fuse into a next-generation solution fueled by advances and opportunities in Social Media technologies. Drupal is already there.
Another example of how social media levels the playing field by opening up ownership and access to everyone – including bootstrapped startup businesses.
I don’t claim to be breaking new ground here. It’s just exciting to consider where all this is going.
For those of us who have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of all that can come with building, maintaining and evolving a Web site – it’s hard not to look forward to the day when all that unnecessary complication is a distant memory.
And we social media consultants can do what we love best: Serve the client, amaze the client, and feel the pride of a job well done where we control the technology – not the other way around.