Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Will Facebook Pages Kill Brand Websites?

As a fan of swimming, the other day I was looking for Michael Phelps’ website to get some news.And as I was googling it, I realized that was his Facebook page. Indeed, the use of Facebook pages has sprung up the past few months. Some success stories are already established.

Owning a Facebook page rather than an actual websites allows to be more interactive and to converse better with fans this is obvious. But I wanted to relate my Google Search to another article I read: Are Facebook Pages Killing Websites? What is sure is that some companies are already generating a large audience on their Facebook pages. As a matter of fact, I attended last month a conference where the speaker said that within the top 10 Facebook Fan pages, the vast majority of them were brands' ones. Facebook users hence are interested into brands in social media.

For example, Kraft Foods' Oreo is the number 3 brand page on Facebook, with a fan base of over 10.1 million growing at a rate of 71,000 new fans each a day. Meanwhile, their branded website,, has seen U.S. traffic drop in the last year from 1.2 million in July, 2009, to just 321,000 in July this year.

New research by digital consultancy Beyond, found that almost a quarter (23%) of consumers would prefer to receive information from brands via Facebook, rather than a brand's website (21%) or company blog (3%).

I believe that Facebook being a third party but more important an open space where users are free to interact as they like with Fan pages makes it more valuable, and this is the reason why they'd rather go on Facebook than on the company's page.

Hence, we may conclude that some companies are much interested in this promising medium, which allows them to converse with their audience, and hence boost their customer relationship management.

But now the question clearly asked is this one: Could your Facebook page replace your website? It is a tough question, because Facebook's growth is clearly not over, and it seems that its importance will still grow. Also, some companies have already started to use Facebook with online shops into it, showing Facebook's potential for e-commerce.

So far, it would be difficult to be extremist about the issue. I don't think that websites will disappear for Facebook. Websites still have a great interest in term of branding and providing high quality information. It is also normal that a new Internet medium would "cannibalize" a part of your website's traffic. I believe the border between websites and Facebook pages will shrink, and websites will evolve to add more social features with Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare items, but yet brand websites still have an interest.

What do you think about it?