Small Businesses Use Social Media Instead of a Website, Despite Risks
Thursday, February 1st, 2018
More than one-third (36%) of small businesses do not have a website, according to the websites section of the fourth annual Small Business Survey conducted by Clutch, a B2B research firm. One in five small businesses (21%) selectively use social media instead of a website in an effort to engage customers.
The survey indicates that small businesses consider cost a bigger concern than the potential repercussions of not having a website.
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram attract small businesses by cultivating a highly engaged user base.
However, relying solely on social media may be a risky strategy for businesses.
"Whenever you put all of your eggs into someone else's basket, it's risky," said Judd Mercer, Creative Director of Elevated Third, a web development firm. "If Facebook changes their algorithm, there's nothing you can do."
Facebook recently announced changes that potentially increase the risk of using social media in place of a website. The social media platform plans to prioritize posts from family and friends over posts from brands.
This new policy may make it more difficult for small businesses to reach their audiences through social media. As a result, websites are expected to regain importance among businesses – as long as cost is not considered an obstacle.
Among small businesses that do not currently have a website, more than half (58%) plan to build one in 2018.
Some Small Businesses Say Website Cost is Prohibitive, But Others Cite Costs of $500 or Less
More than a quarter (26%) of small businesses surveyed say cost is a key factor that prevents them from having a website. However, nearly one-third of small businesses with websites (28%) report spending $500 or less.
Small businesses may not be aware that some web development agencies offer packages that defray costs by dividing website construction into multiple phases or sliding rates for small businesses. "You don't necessarily need to launch with your first-generation website," said Vanessa Petersen, Executive Director of Strategy at ArtVersion Interactive Agency, a web design and branding agency based in Chicago. "Maybe just start small."
Mobile-Friendly Websites Becoming Standard
Businesses that do have websites are moving en mass to mobile friendly ones, the survey found. Over 90% of respondents said their company websites will be optimized for viewing on mobile devices by the end of this year.
In addition to the 81% of company websites that are already optimized for mobile, an additional 13% that say they plan to optimize for mobile in 2018.
Clutch's 2018 Small Business Survey included 351 small business owners. The small businesses surveyed have between 1 and 500 employees, with 55% indicating that they have 10 or fewer employees.