It was only last year that I wrote about the durability of email as a primary business tool; particularly as it compared to the then still private social media monster, Facebook. I won’t trot out the overused Peter Allen quote “everything old is new again” (although it is rather pithy…). Instead, I rather like an unknown author who remarked quite presciently, that “each time history repeats itself, the price goes up.”
(Note to Arte Moreno, owner of the LA Angels — stop trading for over-the-hill superstars)
The jury is still out on social media and its real utility to business — particularly it’s ability to monetize “followers” and “Pinsters’ and “likers”– into paying long term brand advocates. Study after study, white paper after white paper, extols us to create engagement strategies and deepen the level of relationship with our social media minions.
A couple of quick facts… In March of this year, we heard for the first time about a concept called “Facebook Fatigue.” Sixty one percent of current Facebook users say that at one time or another in the past they have voluntarily taken a break from using Facebook for a period of several weeks or more (Pew Internet, February 2013).
Among the top three reasons people cited for taking a break from Facebook:
- Too busy/didn’t have time
- Wasn’t interested
- Waste of time—content not relevant
Conversely, Gartner Research just published a study reminding of the importance of corporate websites, for both B2B and B2C strategies:
- Almost half (45 percent) of 250+ marketers surveyed cited the design, development, and maintenance of a corporate website as being the most important.
- And while marketers recognized social media had a place in their marketing mix, only 6 percent indicated it was their first choice of placement.
Bill Gassman, Gartner research director, summed it up: “the corporate website will not be displaced anytime soon by a brand’s social media presence.”
In short, a website should be the center of your digital universe; a portal to your brand, your organization, and all your services. Use social media as but one arrow in a quiver of marketing weapons as you would a traditional print and broadcast, email, or event to both recruit and connect with current and potential members
Over the years that I have been a member of the faculty of Institute for Organization Management, I have reviewed, graded, and analyzed more than 600 association and chamber websites. These organizations range from some of the largest in membership, staff, and budget (Society for Human Resource Management) to some of the smallest (Alaska Resource Education). However large or small, the most successful websites share some of the following characteristics:
Tips for what an association or chamber website should include:
Relevant content: It’s like the real estate adage…”location, location, location…” When it comes to a website, content is king and should be where most of your organization’s time and money is spent. Make it relevant by polling members, measuring usage of your site by page, and getting feedback from tools like annual membership satisfaction studies.
Advocacy section: The vast majority of associations and chambers do some form of advocacy, a function of their mission; in fact it is considered one of the three core missions of these organizations including education and collaboration. Yet fewer than 40 percent of all the sites I’ve reviewed over the years call it out their website. The very best provide a tab on their home page and then populate it with rich content ranging from quick contact info for elected officials to a legislative scorecard for their year. One site even publishes the actual letters sent to legislators advocating issues.
Check out these sites to see examples of great advocacy sections
- Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce
- Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
- Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce
I mentioned the Los Angeles Angels because my father and I have been die-hard fans for 50+ years. Being an Angels fan is like being a Cubs fan; you just develop a high tolerance for pain and failure. Part of the Angel’s problem has been an inability to focus on the fundamental things that worked when they won their only World Championship in 2002; fundamentals like good pitching, getting on base (then stealing bases), and of course — critically — finding ways to score. Their focus of late has been to throw money at shiny things that don’t produce… (Albert Pujols $240 million contract comes to mind).
The world of digital marketing is full of shiny things like Facebook and Twitter and Pintrest. But if you continue to focus on the fundamentals– like creating a strong website–you will be more productive to accomplishing your mission than trying to figure out if your “likes” will ever turn into home-runs.