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Website vs Social Media in 2023

TLDR; We suggest a holistic approach that covers both mediums, but why? With social media you do not have full control of your content and audience, but are at the mercy of the policies and algorithms of your chosen platform. Further to this you are losing out on the 20% of potential customers that don’t use social media, and the untold amount of people who limit their social media to desktop use only for privacy and mental health reasons. 

As of writing this article (September 2023) social media is arguably the king of most businesses marketing strategies. The benefits of a sound social media presence are innumerable. Social media offers a free platform to connect with  both existing and potential clients & customers. You can post as much as you want for free and the targeted ads are cost efficient and precisely targeted to your focus demographics. So why would you bother with a website?

The allure of Social Media

Social media is fun! it lets us connect with customers and other businesses. We can present our business on a more personal level and issue live updates of events, sales or products. We can be as serious or silly as we deem appropriate. We get instant feedback to determine how our audience feels about a particular posts subject matter which helps understand what is, or isn’t working for our business.

How Much?

In 2022 Facebook sold approximately $58 billion dollars in advertising with a 15% increase year over year. However, with recent changes to Apple’s iOS and some European privacy legislature recently enacted the amount of data apps like Facebook can collect is diminishing. The cost per 1000 impressions is also on the rise  (Source) which means that that cheap and effective advertising we have come to rely on is going to get more expensive and less effective. With this said, Facebook is not the leader when it comes to online ad revenue. The leader of the pack should come as no surprise to anyone, it’s Google with $224 billion (yes billion) in ad revenue for 2022. Why? because Google is the #1 resource for consumers looking online for businesses (Source).

You're not in control!

Recently Instagram made a change to their algorithm in an attempt to increase the content users see to provide more targeted and popular posts. One of the changes that was implemented was a change in how searching hashtags works. Prior to the change if you searched a particular hashtag, lets say “#photography” and you were shown a mix of popular and new content with the ability to filter by “new” “top posts” & “recent top posts”. After the change you’re now only able to filter by “recent top posts” or “top posts”, so what does that mean for your business? Well, it means that if you’re not among the top popular accounts you’re going to be hard pressed to get your content seen by new customers, unless of course you’re ready to pay. Verifying your account and “boosting” posts will get your content on more screens. The days of free audience building are dwindling with a new “pay to play” model. Further to this Instagram in particular was traditionally regarded as a photography app, being one of the the first apps to offer only photos and their ubiquitous filters, but now according to CEO Adam Mosseri the focus has now shifted to a video focused platform like TikTok (Source).

The downside

Let’s face it, aside from the odd former co-worker posting about their current marriage drama we all put our best foot forward on social media. We share the best selfies and the fun adventures. We’re not posting pictures of the ring around the bathtub or the dirty sneakers we refuse to discard for some reason, and this can take a toll on peoples mental health. There’s been a growing consciousness and movement to foster and care for our mental health and for many that means limiting social media usage and exposure. Here is a link to a series of studies conducted looking into the effects of social media on our mental health . What this means for your business is that there’s a growing portion of your audience that could be taking a break, or restricting their access to social media.

By the numbers

In a 2018 Statistics Canada survey it was found that approximately 91.3% of Canadians use the internet. Of those surveyed 77.6% say that they regularly use social media, but that number drops to 25.2% overall for people who use 3 or more social media apps. With growing concerns over privacy and mental health it could be assumed that the numbers could be subject to change now in 2023, but we don’t have anything more recent to confirm that. However, with the known statistics is your business or organization getting the appropriate coverage? Are you posting regularly across all media platforms, and what would your business do for the 20-25% of people that don’t engage with social media?

The Demographics

While we’re talking numbers it’s important to discuss demographics. Your kids don’t often use the same social media as you do, and your usage would vary greatly from your senior parents or grandparents. Facebook does a great job of collecting information on users and we have a snapshot of users age & sex from January 2023. Facebook is more popular with Gen X and Millenials than it is with Gen Z and Boomers. If you rely on Facebook alone you’re missing out on large swaths of the public. Check out the chart here.

Why bother with a website?

Websites have for a long time been the staple online presence for businesses large and small, but an increasing amount of businesses have let them go by the wayside in favour of social media platforms and word of mouth marketing. Social media offers a user friendly interface for business owners of any technological literacy level whereas websites have (until recently) been prohibitively complicated and costly often requiring hiring a designer or firm to develop. However, in 2023 it’s possible for anyone to build a simple and effective website in a time and cost efficient manner. With sites like Wix, Shopify, SquareSpace, and WordPress it’s as simple as picking a template and changing some pictures which many of these sites will “automate” for you. Also, we always recommend checking with your friendly neighbourhood web designer first as prices have come down in recent years with the ease of access to page builders like Gutenberg and Elementor which drastically reduce the time needed to build a site. In the end, your website is YOUR’S you own it, and it’s available to everyone.

In Closing

To neglect one platform or another is going to impact the reach of your business. While not every business owner has the time to post all day, or the confidence to do a TikTok dance for the masses, a social media profile should still be part of your businesses marketing approach. However, to neglect having a website would be detrimental to your business. In the end you want to cast as wide of a net as possible to maximize your online reach and develop customers. Also a full coverage web approach adds legitimacy and trust to your business. It tells your customers that you’re serious about your business and it’s success. Be everywhere.

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