Some municipalities only rely on a business Facebook page to share information with residents. While a Facebook page is important, it’s not a substitute for a website. Having a website gives you the opportunity to offer a robust set of services, detailed and organized information, and ways for citizens to contact you that a Facebook page lacks.
Let’s look deeper at some of the reasons why a municipality will benefit from a website rather than just a Facebook page.
Authoritative Information That You Control
A website is “owned content,” meaning that you own and control the information you present to the world. Most residents will view your website as the authoritative source of information about your city or town.
On a Facebook page, you need to monitor comments—meaning you can either stifle engagement or open up the opportunity for negative and false information to appear in comments. Depending on who administers your Facebook page (probably one or two people), if they get busy, negative comments can linger for a long time or, the opposite, positive comments may sit unapproved for so long that people stop engaging with your Facebook page.
Also, you can only become the manager of your Facebook page. You do not actually own the rights to your Facebook content. Other than populating your municipality’s page with content, Facebook owns the platform, how it’s presented, and even what may appear or not appear. That’s why it’s important to have a place, such as a website, where you are the sole owner of your content and can control what’s said—and how it’s said.
Your residents can trust your municipal website. However, many unauthorized Facebook pages exist for cities. Despite declaring that your Facebook page is valid, it can get lost in the noise. A search for most cities on Facebook brings up many unofficial pages that people may click on instead of yours. Anyone can create a Facebook page, and they do! Having an official website removes the credibility issue and assures residents that the information they receive from you is correct. (You can also link to your correct Facebook page from your website.)
Thoroughly Provide Organized Resources
Your municipality’s website can host resources your residents may need in a clear, organized way with multiple pages. By having online forms, FAQs, and other citizen services easily accessible, you are able to provide citizens information more effectively than on your Facebook page.
While you could link to a city form on your Facebook page, critical information can get lost when mixed in with other information. Facebook gives you one page and little flexibility when presenting information. On a website, your municipality can publish many easily findable webpages where citizens can access important documents and information.
Detailed Contact Information
Your municipality’s website can provide a directory page for contacts while also sprinkling relevant contact information on various webpages. Facebook pages severely limit the prominent contact information you can display—merely a physical address, general email, and general phone number. Residents need more specific contacts for different departments and needs. Only a municipal website allows you to present such contacts in a thorough, convenient way for residents.
Facebook barely allows you room to customize your page. Sure, you can update your profile and cover photo to show off your beautiful city or town, but Facebook’s options are limited. A website gives you more room to fully showcase your municipality any way you choose. Whether you want to show off local businesses or highlight popular tourist attractions, you can customize your website to fit your municipality best.
Use Social Media for Interacting—Not as Your Website
The original purpose of social media is to engage in two-way interaction with people online—not as a broadcasting tool. A website works better as your broadcasting tool. By focusing on your website as your library of information, you can use social media such as Facebook more for engaging with residents rather than as a website substitute. A Facebook page works great to push out timely announcements, publish fun and light-hearted content, and, most importantly, engage with residents.
These are just some of the many reasons why municipalities need more than just a Facebook page for their residents to access information. Use your municipality’s Facebook page in alignment with your website, and not as your website.
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