Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp went down for most of the day on October 4th, 2021 ( for reasons that are still pretty murky to me but having to do with the Domain Name Servers that the infrastructure is connected to) and the dismay was heard ’round the world. If you were like many horse businesses (myself included, if I’m being honest), the fear was real and immediate – “My entire business is on Facebook, what will I do?” This was a true wake up call for many people about diversifying your business, using many baskets for your financial, connecting, marketing and client eggs.
It was a bad week for Facebook with two outages (there was a second, shorter outage on October 8th) and a whistleblower airing a whole lot of dirty laundry for the world to see. It made me think of a post-Facebook world, as far-fetched as that may sound for a world so intertwined with the social media powerhouse and its subsidiaries.
- Is my email list strong? (Nope, gotta work on that)
- Do I have contact information for all of my clients and colleagues outside of Facebook? (er…yeah that’s a no as well)
- Do I have a business, truly, if Facebook were to go away today? (Surely this is a yes…except all of my client networking is on Facebook, so isn’t that really a no?)
- Is my website sound? (Whew, got one right!)
For many horse business owners that I speak to though, all of those are a resounding no. The most important one of these (in my totally unbiased opinion as a web designer) is a website. With a website that you own and you control, the other three questions can be remedied. As Donald Trump discovered early this year, social media is only ever rented, not owned and it can be taken away in the blink of an eye. Anything from your page being closed at the whim of the platform or the platform itself being closed can end your ability to do business to a larger audience if you don’t have a website.
With many younger millennials, the target audience of many horse businesses, moving away from Facebook and in some cases away from social media in general, it becomes even more important to diversify your online presence. Your social media accounts, while important, should support your website rather than replace it. The analytics provided by those platforms are limited in their scope, unlike what you can use on your website to understand your audience. Additionally, social media algorithms are a constantly changing, fluctuating secret. You have no control over that, no way to beat it – the system is rigged and the house always wins.
So, if I haven’t already convinced you that you need a website, read on for more concrete reasons.
Online Presence & Credibility
Your website is your digital storefront and the hub of your online presence. It shows your brand value and credibility as a legitimate, authoritative business. With many “hobby” and “side hustle” businesses out there, you want to stand out as a trusted, credible authority in your industry. One important way to do this is to have a website that shows the perfect first impression, social proof, why you are the one to work with and what you can do for your clients and customers. You can customise your website exactly how you want, which gives you the flexibility of showcasing all of your strengths and unique selling preposition (USP).
Search Engine Optimisation and Marketing
With social media, you are limited in your marketing opportunities by the rules and technology available on that platform, the algorithms that dictate who your posts are shown to, as well as your financial “skin in the game” of paying for ads. With your website, the flexibility and methods for marketing are as endless as the plugins or apps you can connect to your website. Email marketing, blog posts, search results on Google and other search engines, Google ads, good website content, backlinking, connecting social media accounts, affiliate programs, online courses, in person networking with business cards featuring your website – all of these are proven ways to market your business and all are connected to having a website for your business.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is how you show up on Google and other search engines to people looking for businesses like yours. This is an important aspect of your business visibility. While social media does create SEO rankings for businesses, it’s a secondary aspect to the platform’s own rankings. It will never be about getting you results, only them. If your SEO is set up correctly, your website will generate revolving traffic that will continue to bring new visibility and new potential leads. Google rewards good SEO, informative websites and businesses who show up consistently.
No Dependency on Rented Social Media Space
When you have a website, you own your digital storefront, you don’t rent it. You control what shows up, how it is displayed, what information is given to your audience and you decrease your dependency on other peoples’ playgrounds. When the algorithm changes on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc you are at their mercy and there are no guarantees that your target audience will even see the most important information you create and share.
A website is your first impression, your consistent online presence and your only owned piece of the internet that is showcasing your business to the world. If your social media accounts are suddenly lost, without a website, you may very well be starting from scratch with your business.
Let’s all take this little wake up call and work on getting our horse businesses in a better footing for the future – get your email list up to snuff (or create one if you don’t have it), make sure you have a website and that it is truly showcasing the best of your brand and review your current marketing practices for holes.
And as always…if you want some help creating an amazing website for your horse business, connect with me!