Is the Corporate Website a Digital Dinosaur?

Watch recent television commercials or flip through any magazine, and you’ll notice that the countless print and video advertisements directing you to a company’s Facebook and Twitter pages as opposed to main corporate websites. This marketing tactic – combined with the highly commercialized rise in social media – has many speculating that social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter will soon replace the corporate website as the main method of brand promotion.

Even Facebook has publicly expressed its belief that it will soon replace corporate websites as the center of the commercial world. The truth is that websites are not digital dinosaurs. In fact, if done correctly, websites and social media today can act as promotional partners to maximize a company’s digital ROI.

Like social media, traditional websites are realizing monumental growth. The Internet today boasts over 200 million websites, with a 7.9 percent increase in domains registered in the past year. And while social media certainly has had a significant impact in the way we consume news (how many of you heard about Osama Bin Laden’s death on Twitter before it reached CNN?). A survey conducted by the Public Interest Registry (PIR) shows that 81 percent of Americans still turn to a company’s website first to find information on the entity, product or cause, while in contrast, 16 percent of Americans choose Facebook as their primary source for information (eight percent choose Twitter).

We all use and love Facebook and Twitter – 22.7 percent of our online time is spent tweeting and posting. But when it comes to finding credible information about an organization or company, corporate websites are still seen as the primary source. In looking for a specific piece of information, it’s just not efficient for Internet users to have to scroll through Facebook posts and tweets to find what they are looking for. Traditional websites offer consistency and organization, while social media content is always changing.

That’s not to say that the constantly-changing nature of social media is a bad thing. In fact, that’s why we’re all crazy about it and why it is so successful. These platforms enable us to keep up-to-date with developments within a company and its industry in real-time. And this fresh content usually directs you to a corporate website, which acts as a “home base” for social media campaigns. In this sense, social media is an incredibly effective way to drive traffic to a more thorough and full featured website where a brand can really shine in ways it cannot through ever-changing, 140-character status updates.

Even Facebook recognizes this reciprocal relationship and the value of traditional websites, .ORG specifically, for several of its campaigns. There’s the Open Compute Project, an initiative launched by Facebook to accelerate data center server innovation and to build the most energy efficient, low-cost computing infrastructures possible. Also check out www.socialblood.org, another social campaign that Facebook created with the goal of connecting individuals of the same blood group and quickly locating emergency blood donors. Instead of Facebook pages, both campaigns rely on traditional .ORG websites to mobilize passionate communities around each cause.

Bottom line: we need to move away from the idea that social media and corporate websites are competing with each other or that the “website is dead.” Instead, we must come to terms with the fact that websites and social media will continue to act as partners in promoting brands online. Social media has presented enormous branding opportunities for companies worldwide, and the existence of such tools only further establish the Internet in its entirety as a more integral part of a corporation’s overall marketing strategy.

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