So, for some small businesses using Facebook instead of building a website makes sense: It's an easy way to make your phone number and address available to Internet users and reach out to customers. Being free, it is especially attractive to cash-strapped businesses that need an online presence.
Why Facebook Can't Replace Most Websites
Diane Buzzeo, CEO and founder of Ability Commerce,> an ecommerce software provider, says she thinks that Facebook and websites will continue to merge, but she doesn't believe that social media will ever replace ecommerce and search engines.
Right now, ecommerce on Facebook (or F-commerce if you like buzzwords) is a lightweight offering that doesn't provide a true ecommerce experience for the customer.
At best, F-commerce can showcase new or top products from your online store, or special and limited edition items offered by big brands. You can incorporate a small store-like Page (called a "shopping tab") or dynamic business landing pages, but these apps are not the full-featured product catalog you're going to need to manage on your own ecommerce website.
"I think social media is unbelievably valuable with a huge potential for getting information and advertising value in social media, but then you need to bring people back to the store to place the order," she said.
One thing Buzzeo said she expects to become more powerful is for businesses to integrate links from Facebook shopping to their website shopping cart. If a customer looks at a product on your Facebook shopping Page, the item would be added to their cart on the ecommerce website, when the customer is logged in.
The Facebook ecosystem is new and the platform is constantly changing. Peter Kim, chief strategy officer of SaaS-based social business solutions company, Dachis Group, said this is a lot like a business-leasing property.
"Your page is real estate on Facebook's page and you have to play by their rules. Some changes are rolled out with little notice," he said. "If you have a small business, it might be easy to get a page up and running but difficult to maintain over time-not only from a community management, but a technology perspective as well."
Don't Choose One: Integrate