As we move steadily into the era of Web 3.0 – the Mobile age – some NPO’s are still struggling with their websites, blogs, emails and donate setups (Web 1.0) and not sure how to move forward into Web 2.0 – Social. To help them get a clearer look at their presence and pieces, I’ve begun explaining digital presence with these visuals: Foundation, House and Car.
A Strong Foundation
Just like you need a strong foundation in place before you can build a house, so must you build a strong foundation before you head into the social realm. Think of the three pigs and how the strongest foundation (the one of brick) was the one the wolf couldn’t blow down. In the digital realm, your website and blog make up your foundation, your strong base, your web 1.0. It’s where everything else will be built from and directed back to, so it has to be strong and supportive.
If you’re like many organizations, you’ve had some sort of website for several years. You might even have a separate website just for your major fundraising event (if you’re on this blog, that’s a fair guess BTW). GREAT! But, when was the last time you updated that site – not just the look but the content? Content is king! You can have the most visually appealing site on the web, but if your visitors can’t find the timely, relevant content they want and need, your foundation is flawed. Think of it as building a gorgeous glass house on a cliff over the ocean…with only one skinny, shaky stilt underneath; people will be amazed when they see it but they aren’t going to want to come in to visit!
So – when was the last time you truly audited your content? Reviewed the images? Removed or archived irrelevant, outdated content? Added fresh information? You need to review your analytics, survey your visitors and really get a feel for who your visitors are and how to make the site work for them.
Need another visual? Think of it as having a great lawn around your home. It doesn’t stay great just by nature alone. You have to mow it, trim it, sometimes seed it, add some flowers, and generally care for it. If your website and blog is the ground on which you are growing
flowers I mean, followers, it needs care and feeding too!
Build A Home, Not Just a House
Once you’ve setup your foundation and your lawn, you can start building your home (ok, I know my analogy is a little flawed because no one ever has a great lawn before they have a house, just work with me here a little). You build a house then fill it with interesting stuff. You then invite people over to talk about topics of mutual interest, show interested and concern over their lives. Maybe you throw a party or two and have a good time there. These are the things that make it more than a house, it makes it a home. Think of your Facebook page, your Twitter Feed and other social sites as your house and you want to make them a home. This is your Web 2.0.
Just like your foundation, your house needs care and attention. You can’t expect people to come to your house when it’s cluttered, too loud or empty. Your social sites are the same way. If your Facebook page is sporadically updated and non-engaging, people won’t hang out there. If you tweet too often (like “that guy” at a party who just won’t stop talking…) or if you tweet too randomly without a clear focus, your fans will start disappearing.
In my opinion, one of the worst things you can do is be an absentee homeowner. If friends stop by to visit and comment on your new artwork, you would at least say “Thank you!”, right? And if they told you a story you’d ask appropriate questions or respond in a certain way with sympathy or amazement. The same goes for Facebook and Twitter; if someone takes the time to visit, to write on your wall, response to an update or mention your organization in a tweet be sure to answer them! Social media is a place to be social and engaging, not just another holding place for your content. Treat it with respect and add a little love and it will be a home for your followers, not just another house.
Get a Move On!
Then there’s the new face in the digital realm – no, not Pinterest, that’s the arty, scrapbooky part of your social home. The new wave is Mobile, also referred to as Web 3.0.
Mobile can consist of two main pieces – mobile websites and mobile apps. In the world we’re creating here, think of Web.3, mobile, as your car – it’s time to get your followers moving with your information.
If you’re anything like me, you like fast cars with clean lines, with interiors that provide minimal distractions, controls that are easy to access, and equipped with the right tools to get you to your destination (gotta love GPS). When people are accessing mobile sites or apps, they’re looking for the same basic ideas – clean, fast, easy to use, minimal distractions and just the tools they need.
When planning your mobile site, plan for what people might really need while on the go. For example, if someone is accessing an event’s mobile website, they will probably want information such as predicted weather for event day, directions, event details (date/time/parking) and photos. If they’re mobile, they probably don’t need the event’s history, your steering committee list or how to buy tickets once you’re sold out. Really think about each page and if a mobile visitor will need it or if it can live just on your full website, as part of your foundation. Be sure to have a way for site visitors to switch to your full site from your mobile site so they can access all the goods if they need them.
The Big Picture
All in all, remember you must have a good base before you have a house or a car. Social means being engaged and engaging others to make your house more of a home. Once your foundation and home are setup you can start taking it to the streets.