July 1, 2011

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Online Facelift

Make Sure Your Website Fits Your Social Media Strategy

Candace Little

July 1, 2011

Social chatter seems to be taking over the world of online branding. Coca-Cola uses Twitter to do everything from answer questions about the plastic used in its bottles to announce its quarterly growth rates, and Utah’s own Skullcandy uses Facebook to show fans its products being used all over the world. Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter are part of most up-to-date business communication and marketing plans. 

But what does it all mean for the plain old company website? Well, for one, it may be time to make your company website more interactive than plain and old. But mostly, it just might be time for a quick reevaluation of your website. Does it fit in with your company goals and objectives, as well as your social media platforms?

Websites: Then and Now
Rob Kunz, co-founder of BoomStartup, a mentorship-driven investment program in Utah, says using technology efficiently and effectively cannot be overlooked. And part of that means having a website that fits into an overall smart social media strategy.

Historically, companies have developed a website as a place to drive traffic, but Kunz says it’s different today. “Today, with social media, companies tend to focus on going to select social clusters and communities such as Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., and marketing to prospects and consumers within that community, and then ‘pushing content’ to users or consumers in that community.”

Russ Page, director of marketing for web design, development and marketing firm Fifty Studio, says he has seen many companies—especially those that are trying to reach a mass market—use Facebook to drive customers to their websites. Facebook and mobile phones have changed the way people use the internet. Not only do businesses solicit followers, but Page says individuals reach out to their network of trusted friends to do research—requesting recommendations for a good plumber, for example.

With the growth of social media platforms, some companies may think that they can do away with their current website if they have a strong presence on other sites. But social media sites have not made websites unnecessary, Kunz says, because people still want to see a website in order to deem a business as credible.

“Customers then move forward to determine if the company is trustworthy by checking out their press releases, management team, etc. If the pages do not exist, it now makes the consumer suspicious...so it will always remain important even if it is just from a validation perspective,” says Kunz. 

Crafting Objectives
Kunz and Page stress the importance of having specific, measurable website goals and objectives. Page says the first question he asks anyone redesigning their website is, “What is the purpose of your site and what functionality do you want it to have?” Verbalizing this simple question helps people understand that what they think they need in a site may be different from what they actually need to reach their objective.

“Have a plan and talk it out with someone in your company or a web professional. It’s a helpful exercise to just talk it out,” says Page.

Provo Craft & Novelty, a technology-based creative and crafting company, recently had this conversation and is building a new website to better suit its growing audience online.

Andy Nelson, director of online marketing for Provo Craft, says the company, which will launch its new site later this fall, is aiming to make it much more inspirational and interactive with the ability to accept user-generated content, posts, recommendations and views. The new site will continue the company’s popular online classes and message boards, and it will feature more video and photos.

The site will also have the ability for people to search for specific information. Nelson says this comprehensive search tool will make it easier for users to be a part of the online conversations. Another way the company is catering to users is by creating user accounts on the site. Once logged in to a personal account, a user can receive project recommendations and upload their own content.

Nelson says part of the website’s functions could be carried out on Facebook or other social media sites but, “What we know about our current users is not all of them are Facebook users. So we had to figure out ways to marry all the social opportunities.” He adds, “It’s kind of a delicate balance because we know some folks love Facebook and want to engage in that environment; we know some people love our message boards and we want to increase activity there. It’s really about what makes sense for us.”

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