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A retailer may wonder – should I do social networking or a website? Which is best for my store?  The answer is  . . . both. If you want to be found online, then you need to scream, “HERE I AM!!” You do that by being in as many places as possible.

Social media sites allow customers and potential customers to “get a taste” of your store. Social media also allows you, the store owner, to observe and hear what the customers want, what they are looking for, what they like and don’t like. However, social media does not take the place of a website, it enhances it. Instead of trying to use social sites to bring the web to you, use social media as a way to bring your brand to the web outside your site.

The pros for a website are few but mighty. First and foremost, you own the information and images on your website. You have absolute control. Social media sites own whatever is posted them and all sites look somewhat similar. They are customizable only within the limits of the design teams. Would you seriously consider giving the everyday operation of your business to someone you don’t know, you haven’t checked out and who has no accountability to you? Suppose the social media site(s) decides to change their purpose and/or design. What happens to your site? Plus, some of the biggest web companies have disappeared or faded into the woodwork and all their users’ posted content went with them.

Second, almost anyone can quickly and easily setup a fan page. But, to show the quality of your brand, a website is key. It gives you “staying power”. A website should act as the main hub of activity, offering information and interactivity across multiple tools and features. Social media sites are an extension taking advantage of the core competencies of social networks. Your website is the one central place all of these intersect.

Finally, consider Search Engine Optimization. With search engines being one of the number one ways a visitor will come across your store’s website, it is imperative that you are empowered with the greatest possible search engine optimization. With several custom pages that include text, images with descriptions and metatags, your website is what drives your store to the top of the “hit” lists.

By now you may ask, then do I need social media? Yes! Social media gives you the potential to connect with friends’ friends and grow your share of the market. Remember, if you want to be found online then you need to scream, “HERE I AM!!” You do that by being in as many places as possible.

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