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  • The authors are Steve King and Carolyn Ockels. Steve and Carolyn are partners at Emergent Research and Senior Fellows at the Society for New Communications Research. Carolyn is leading the coworking study and Steve is a member of the project team.

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« An Economic Ode to the Great Plains | Main | Is Facebook Replacing Traditional Websites? »

July 12, 2010


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What about the local service provider who had a geocities “website” for 5 years, but didn’t get any results until hir yellow page listing / Google profile showed up in Google’s “ten box”? Doesn’t need a website.

What about the realtor who has had a cookie-cutter corporate real estate site for X years, feeding leads back to corporate, but started tweeting and connected to real buyers and sellers immediately, with real-time communications on the Blackberry? Doesn’t need a website.

No matter how you slice it, a website is a liability. It costs money to start (with uncertain returns), it costs money to maintain (with uncertain status), and costs money to update (with updates usually prompted by web service providers, not customers). There is a lot broken with the independent web site model for small business, unless the small business has a clear Internet strategy.

Now go and try to sell them on paying for a web strategy.

Google and online yellow page plays have the right idea, but so far have not executed well. The small business will partner for an annual fee… all someone needs to do is deliver value and manage risk. Sad it hasn’t happened much yet.

Maynard from Give me a Website

Yes, you need a website. No matter the size or type of your business, if you’re trying to compete in today’s tech-savvy world then you need a website in order to market yourself, gain traction in your industry and simply be found by customers. Today when someone is looking for a dry cleaner, antiques dealer, or hair salon they are going to Google. Let’s face it, most people don’t even open that big yellow book that shows up on their doorstep each year. Do not have a website? Only listed in the directory sites? You are losing customers.

Best PLM Software

I have been talking about this subject a lot lately with my father so hopefully this will get him to see my point of view. Fingers crossed!

business opportunity

Well then it depends. If your business can afford to have a traditional website then why not. Small owners does not only need a website but the right website. Besides, we’ve seen small businesses do some amazing things in social media.

Kelly Harman

I think our definition of a "website" needs to change. We tend to think of social media sites as being more flexible, easier to use, and more "2.0" than a traditional website. That is still true if a business hasn't used today's open source tools to build their company website. (Remember being at the mercy of your HTML programmer?) With the advent of WordPress, Joomla! and other open source solutions for building business websites, the flexibility and ease of use is equally available on business sites as it is on social media sites. Social media sites will never give you the kind of control and freedom of use that you enjoy on your own business site. So I would say that it continues to remain important to have some sort of "central hub" on the Internet that you drive all other sites to in order to make sure you're gaining the best of all the internet has to offer you.


It totally depends on the business and what it's objectives are. To state the bleeding obvious, an online store needs an eCommerce website! But, if My business is a gym then maybe I can create a big enough network through Facebook that I don't need a website. Then again, my website might answer a stack of questions that potential customers have in a simpler way (eg opening hours, facilities, fee structure, payment methods etc).

So my view is that, for maximum return,most businesses should be doing both!

baby shoe maker

I run a business on the Internet and there is no way that a blog or a Facebook page can work for me as my primary web presence. My web site completely handles the selling process automatically; from invoicing, receipts, customer communication, stock control, reporting... But I also use social network pages and blogs to supplement my business. It serves as an alternative avenue for driving traffic to my site.

David Lelong

I think it's critical for small businesses to have their own website as it's the only place where they can control exactly how they want to present their business online. Social media is a great way to distribute a message, but the message needs to originate from your own website.

traffic school california

Good point and i think very business needs a website to reach their people by evaluating what there are. the 11 reasons are very crucial and thanks for stopping by and sharing some great information.


Michael: Good point on the Entrepreneur article. And I agree, Kathy, that prospects generally check out a firm's website.

Your comments and multiple emails (our posts tend to generate more emails than comments) got me to thinking about the role of Facebook in all of this.

I'm posting on this tomorrow.



Kathy Klotz-Guest

Interesting discussion, Steve. I definitely come down in the "social media isn't a substitute for a website" camp. It's your calling card and your face to the world. One of the first things that prospects will check is a company's business website, no matter how small the business is. While I definitely agree you need to fish where the fish are, having a presence you can update and an environment you determine is important for establishing a "home base."

I do agree how much social media is incorporated into a small business marketing strategy does depend on the individual business. Back in the "blog hype" day, I told many small businesses who would ask that they didn't need a blog. Social media IMHO is a supplement to, and not a great substitute for, a good website.

Ultimately, as you point out, the choice need not be mutually exclusive and IMHO shouldn't be. A blog can be a great add-on to a website where content is refreshed frequently, allowing a business to demonstrate thought leadership in a dynamic and changing environment. It's figuring out the right mix and that depends on the business needs.

michael webster

The entrepreneur article is a bit misleading because they recommend the use of blogs as a way of not having website!

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