Today, with the huge popularity of social sites such as Facebook and Twitter, there are some people out there who are wondering if they even need a website. Can't they just set up a Twitter account and a Facebook page, and direct their customers to those? There was a recent article in Entrepreneur Magazine that discussed just this concept. Twitter and Facebook are powerful tools for engaging your customers and driving business, but here are five reasons why these tools are no replacement for your own website. Uptime/Downtime - Can your business rely on the uptime of social websites? Twitter is practically infamous in web circles for its downtime. The "fail whale" image has become a running joke with regards to the site. However, you may be surprised to learn that Facebook's uptime is even worse. Can you count on these websites to be available when you need them to be? Sites like Twitter, and YouTube especially, also shut down occasionally for routine maintenance. If this maintenance time happens to correspond with a local news piece about your business (driving a lot of potential traffic), there is very little you can do. With a regular website, you control when your site goes down, and can generally count on high uptime if you choose a reputable hosting solution. Facebook Decides What Your Page Looks Like - If your only home on the Web is a page on Facebook, Facebook decides what your "webpage" will look like. As features change from month to month and year to year, you'll have very little control over the physical look and feel of your page. No URL to Advertise - This one's pretty self explanatory. With a page on Facebook, you'll have no branded URL to give to customers and put on printed materials. There is also a certain credibility that comes with giving out a "real" URL to your customers. Limits Your Pool of Visitors - As shocking as it may sound, some people may not have a Facebook or Twitter account. As pervasive as these sites may seem, not everyone is on board yet, and some people likely never will covert. Why limit yourself to only users of these sites? Don't Sell Yourself Short - Lastly, I think resigning yourself to a Facebook page is selling yourself short. Don't assume that your customers don't have the time, interest, or willingness to navigate to your website. People use and even socialize on many websites in a given day. Why can't one of them be yours? Some of the small business owners in the Entrepreneur article mentioned above view a website as a burden. Instead, you should view it as an opportunity. What are your competitors doing on the Web? How can you do it better? Even in 2010, there is a lot of room for improvement online in most industries outside of the high-tech sphere. Isn't finding the things you can do better than anyone else what business is all about?

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