Could the day be coming when companies want to ditch their own websites, and domain names, and rely on social marketing pages to promote their products or services? That is what Facebook is hoping.In a conference presentation in London this week, Stephen Haines, commercial director of Facebook’s U.K. operation, essentially said while speaking today at the Technology for Marketing and Advertising conference that “companies’ interactions with their customers could take place so often on Facebook that company Web sites would fall by the wayside,” according to a CNET report.”To bolster his argument, Haines showed statistics comparing how many times Facebook users have clicked a company’s ‘like’ button with how many times per month people visited that company’s Web site. For Starbucks, a top Facebook advertiser, the ratio was 21.1 million likes to 1.8 million site visitors. For Coca-Cola, it’s 20.5 million compared with 270,000; for Oreo, 10.1 million compared with 290,000; and for Dr. Pepper, it’s 4.1 million compared with 325,000.”CNET says that while “the social-networking site is embedded increasingly deeply into people’s lives, … relying on it for customer communications means subordinating a key part of a businesses’ operations to a middleman that has shown no shortage of ambition. Many companies are happy to use Microsoft products and Google services, but companies and antitrust regulators get antsy when too much power is concentrated in one corporation’s hands.”Such a scenario, should it eventuate, could often lead to businesses, especially smaller ones, giving up or not applying for a domain name for their corporate website.This issue was also the subject of the Domain Pulse conference in Vienna on 17 February. The panel session late on day one of the two-day conference, Europe’s most important annual domain name conference, looked at the role of a domain name in a company’s branding and image. While a domain name is viewed by many as important, there are alternative means of promoting a company or brand such as through social networking services another panel member, Sabine Hoffman from marketing company ambuzzador, said, and these can be complementary to using a domain name.Also on the panel was Christian Kallenberg, chief editor of FHM magazine in Germany, who ditched the domain name for FHM Germany and now relies entirely on promoting the magazine through Facebook. Kallenberg says this move has been very successful, and much more successful than using a website with the magazine’s own domain name. And much cheaper.However this method was not supported by Tim Schumacher, CEO of leading domain name marketplace Sedo and Hoffman. Questions were raised as there is a lack of control over how you can project your brand online. For example, Facebook, Twitter or another social networking site may introduce charges in the future that could relate to the number of friends or people ‘liking’ the page. Should this happen, the business may or may not be up for a considerable fee. Hoffman wondered what would happen if Facebook introduced a charge of $1 per friend on Facebook.Additional problems could be changes in terms and conditions, the introduction of strict regulation of sales such as proposed last week by Apple for sale through applications, the loss of popularity of the social networking site or even the collapse of the website.Hoffman believed that using Facebook was a good idea, but should be used in conjunction with a domain name and website, redirecting from your company website to Facebook through an address such as facebook.brandname.at.The full CNET article is available from news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-20038242-264.html.