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Strategic insights
No, Facebook is not Killing Your Website. New user behavior is

Written by on March 21, 2011

Earlier today I tweeted a link to Jeff Bullas' recent post "Is Facebook Killing Off The Company Website?"

He points to the fact that companies are struggling with growing their website traffic. Most brands are seeing either a stagnation or a drop in visitors.

I have been seeing the same thing for years. It is hard to point to any brand website that shows any measurable form of success. Unless those websites also serve as ecommerce landing pages.

The brand website is no longer your primary destination. It is no longer where people go.

Jeff makes a number of catastrophic conclusions as to how you should deal with this shift in consumer behavior. Like:

Start using Facebook to drive traffic to the official website by providing obvious links on Facebook tabs and info pages

...or...

Create a Facebook competition which requires finding information on your website or blog, announce you will publish the competition winners on your official website

and he rounds it up with

Facebook is a great channel to engage with your fans and drive traffic to your official websites and blog but don't get caught up in the hype and ignore your other online properties but continue to integrate and optimize all your digital assets and the synergy will surprise you.

This is just plain wrong. It is defensive, and it focuses on a specific destination. Moving people from Facebook to your website is like when the newspapers try to move people from digital to print.

What you should do!

The old way of looking at the internet is like this. Your website is at the center of your internet strategy. That is your core destination and where you try to get people to go. Around it is a lot of secondary social media channels, whose purpose is to drive traffic (and engagement) to your site.

This is the model that Jeff is advocating, but it is the old model.

The new model is very different. The world has turned social by default, and it is not specifically about Facebook. People's user behavior has changed and requires a completely new internet strategy.

It is no longer about specific destinations, formats or channeling user behavior. It is about giving people what they want, wherever they need it.

The customer is now at the very center. Around him are all your channels. The customer decides which channel to use, and it is your job to deliver what people need *on that channel*.

If people prefer to follow you on Facebook, don't try to get them to go somewhere else. Your Facebook strategy should never be about linking to your website, it should be about moving your product into Facebook.

Or as Prinz Pinakatt, Coca-Cola's Interactive Marketing Manager said,

In some cases some of our campaigns won't need a coke.com-hosted site. In most cases, these will still exist as it's the most obvious destination for a consumer, but it might only be a page linking to YouTube encouraging people to join the community there.
We would like to place our activities and brands where people are, rather than dragging them to our platform.

You need to turn the old model completely upside down. Do not use your social channels to bring people to your website. Use your website to bring your visitors to where other people are.

That doesn't mean that the website isn't important. It is. It is where you pick up all the people who are not following you, yet!

Why are websites losing traffic?

This leads us to the original question of why websites are either stagnating or losing traffic. It is not because of Facebook as such. It is because they are no longer at the center. That is not where people are, nor where they communicate.

The website has become a channel, rather than a destination.

The website will continue to drop. I expect it to account for only 10-20% of your traffic in a few years.

People are your new destinations, not websites.

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.

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