From Facebook to Flazio…A good choice?

Recently, I have been talking about the Value of a Website in a Social Media World. For me, the topic rose to importance as I found myself responding more and more frequently to comments from clients like:

I’ve built up quite a following in the social media circles. Do I really need to maintain a website too?”

“xyz (social media website) has allowed me to add multiple pages and I have built up a website there. Why should I maintain a separate website?”

All my business is coming from contacts that I have in my social media circles. What do I gain by having a separate website?

Website with Value

Website by Adventures Online

There are a number of reasons for continuing to maintain your own website and 15 reasons are mentioned in The Value of a Website in a Social Media World post.

Primary among the reasons to maintain a website is that you have almost total control over your website that is hosted externally from the social media websites. You do not have control over the policies and procedures, limitations and allowances on any social media website. Your participation and pages at the social media websites are at the whim of the social media websites and they can change the game at any time.

And, when you want something beyond their limitations, you cannot pick up your website and go, because you don’t own the template. There are no “pages”. Your information is in a database and the social media website owns the template that then gets filled with your information.

Good News for (some) Facebook Users

Now there is a tool that helps you migrate away from Facebook and establish your website without starting from scratch. If you are one of the people who have invested a ton of time building your Facebook profile and Facebook business pages, and now you are ready to move on to something more sophisticated, or you are just concerned about the direction of Facebook and its policies, there is now a tool that can help you backup your Facebook presence and even use your Facebook profile and pages to create a wholly separate website.

John Biggs (@johnbiggs) has reported on TechCrunch that a company in Italy called Flazio has developed a website “builder” that will extract data and photos from your Facebook timeline, profile and pages and use those to build a starter website in one step:

…the cooler part is the Facebook app which allows you to export your feed or your private Facebook pages right onto the web. I tried it and it grabbed all of my photos and made a sort of portfolio of me by mashing up all my Facebook jazz.

The app is here and you essentially connect your Facebook account to the system and it drags your data and posts right off of your page.
Flazio, An Italian Web-Design Engine, Lets You Build A Site Through Your Facebook Page

Really? I wanted to see how this works, so, I clicked on the app. I can’t read Italian, but, I believe the first line on the Facebook app’s page says “Tired of the limitations of Facebook?” The app interface is in Italian. It creates your website on flazio.com. For example, it created karencallahan.flazio.com for me.

When you click the button (which I assumed said “Edit your website”), the new interface is in English with some Italian sprinkled around. When you edit the website,  the default template can be changed to another (there are about 3 dozen templates to choose from), the background, font and color scheme customized, Google+ account linked and Google map widgets installed instantaneously. All the things you would expect to include in a website are available to you through widget-like functionality.  Menu editing, upload images, upload PDFs, embed videos (both Vimeo and YouTube), connect to social media websites, include posts on social media websites, and more.

I played around with the interface for a little bit. The Flazio interface is easy to understand and has enough customizations for a beginner.  I did not test anything that I would consider advanced like embedding a PHP program that displays a portion of my blog on a sidebar.

Flazio Pro

After you have created a starter website, you can upgrade to the Pro version for a reasonable price. The primary reason I see for upgrading to the Flazio Pro version right away is the ability to have your own domain name (instead of yourFacebookname.flazio.com). With the Pro version, you have access to the HTML code (gives you more flexibility and control), eCommerce, password-protected pages,  and the web pages are free from advertising.

Flazio.com is a great first step towards independence from Facebook.

PROS

  • Re-purpose content: When you need more than Facebook offers, Flazio has a tool that let’s you benefit from all the hard work you have sweat into Facebook. The tool sucks out the content and photos and automatically creates an independent website for you.
  • End-User Control and First Step to Independence: The starter website is a good first step to becoming independent of Facebook. Although the information is extracted into another template environment, you have a little more control over sizes and areas on the screen and can move the content and graphics around and resize areas. And, since you’ll want to opt for the Pro version immediately (because you want your own personalized domain name), you will have even more control with access to the HTML. (I’m presuming here that Flazio does not limit the HTML that its tool can interpret.)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Having your content outside of Facebook gives you the opportunity to get found in the search engines 24 x 7, not just when someone is logged on to a social media website. (I’m presuming here, that Flazio will not block the search engines. Remember Google and Facebook don’t play together.)

CONS

  • Lack of Portability: You’ve moved from one template-driven environment to another template-driven environment, so, you still don’t have real pages that you can pick up and move intact to another server when (and if) you outgrow Flazio. Flazio retains the copyright.
  • Location of your new website: The website that is generated, gets created on a server in England (I traced my Flazio-created website to a server in England, and indeed flazio.com’s hosting location is England). From an SEO standpoint, the location of the server on which you house your website matters. So, having a website on a server in England is not beneficial from an SEO standpoint to my U.S.-based business.

I’m very excited about this tool and look forward to watching its growth.
I am intrigued by the concept that this brother and sister (Elisa and Flavio Fazio) have brought to life, and I see the possibilities. It is a clever business model. People want more choices than what are available via Facebook.  Flazio fills the gap by auto-creating the website, and in return makes a living on upgrades to the Pro version and advertising.

As a professional website developer, getting found on the Internet is paramount. Getting found is made easier with SEO and, part of that is having a website in-country. I look forward to a version of Flazio that has a radio button list of geographic locations that lets you choose the server for (and location of ) your Flazio-created website. I will connect with Flazio via social media so that I can continue to monitor its progress.

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