Our first New Media Edge entry presented a company that, despite our best efforts, remains intent on not optimizing its website to drive revenue generation and retention, let alone use social media in pursuit of those business-building (or -saving) goals. The second took responsibility for being unable to book it on the oceangoing voyage many perceive social media to be. Today’s entry shows how when we succeed in moving companies to the third stage of AIDA [remember?]—desire, in this case the desire for a better site—they are actually primed to set sail.
How? Well, the journey begins with the larger question of structure and getting down to core essentials: Which pages and content should even appear on your site? Our own site contains an About YOU page that speaks to who we can help, specifically by title, and how. At Visionael we helped establish that company’s vertical marketing, alliance partner and solution selling programs, then structured the site around them. Something I’ve done for companies and would like to see more of, especially if your company or client offers either installed software or software as a service (SaaS), are on-site password-protected software exploration portals. (Please note I didn’t say software demos.) You want “viral marketing”? This is one little-known way to create it. Likely aimed at industry/technology analysts but of course available to whomever you choose, this is a great way to bring technorati into the tent fast. They are long accustomed to being marketed to (or at) about world-beating, groundbreaking solutions that turn out to be vaporware desperately pieced together on the fly by professional services teams, or that overhang the market so far they don’t even exist yet. Anything you can do to make your software and systems real to them—and not as in “real on the screen in a carefully-controlled tradeshow demo,” but as a living, breathing entity they can touch and test the limits of, on their own time and at their own pace—will make them friends if not for life then at least for years. It also makes them feel like they’re a part of the action and they will make Herculean efforts to get ahead of the curve and help take your story (and product) to market.
Now: Anchors aweigh. The company serving as the basis for this multi-part series has five distinct, continuously-updated information streams that it claims to want customers and prospects to see, yet contrary to purpose are being piled on top of each other, three clicks below the home page, on the company’s news page. Its people are merrily cranking out monthly/weekly/daily product updates; “our take” snippets about market developments; updates on federal legislation that are core to the firm’s business; the firm’s own monthly newsletter; and news releases, or white papers/positioning papers announced with a news release.
If you have a client with multiple information streams such as these, show it how the best way to spotlight the benefits it delivers to its customers, not to mention the good work of its people, is not by clutching all of this tightly on its core website but by unleashing it interactively. Only two of these streams are what most clients would normally think of as news, yet by opening our minds and considering all five as newsworthy we transform them from another layer of site sediment to dynamic content carrying the company flag to the far corners of the web. Note also that until this sentence I have yet to type the word “blog,” yet my platform of choice for zapping this content instantly across the Internet is a blogging platform, like WordPress (which is what we use), TypePad or Blogger. Each info-stream has a separate feed and anyone can subscribe to it, so when you put out news or other content they’re not waiting for it to hit their inbox—and to fight for their attention with everything else that’s already in there—but instead seeing it instantly in their news reader(s).
At this point we’ve eased a company across the transom to social media, perhaps without them fully realizing it. We’ve led the steed to water and it’s beginning to imbibe. Best of all, far from some nefarious purpose or slick sales pitch, it’s actually good for them! For starters, these blogging platforms are built from the ground up for interactivity with RSS feeds, search and a raft of other helpful widgets, features and linkages already on board. The next benefit I really appreciate is the way these platform providers “market,” feature and otherwise make your site accessible to everyone else on the planet who also has a site hosted on that platform. For example, go to the WordPress home page and you find featured sites, “hot posts,” most popular tags and PollDaddy ratings and polls, and proactively rather than platform-delivered you can search the universe of WordPress sites by topic and keyword. You can also do a quick non-directed search whereby WordPress pops up sites at random for you to consider.
Of course these blogging platforms wisely do not try to cover the earth, Sherwin Williams-style, by themselves. Just as Qualcomm generated a “wireless industry” (?) in our San Diego home metro and every day seemingly brings a new wave of iPhone apps ashore, you have at your fingertips a multitude of useful partner apps and widgets to customize these blogging platforms. I love (Google) FeedBurner because of the way it lets us condition a feed and make it completely user-ready for everyone to receive, so instead of merely pushing news and other information to the masses you’re encouraging them to subscribe to your feeds. On sites we launch you can do that via the top 20+ most popular feed readers and stream the content not in boring mainframe-style text but exactly as it appears on the page including embedded links, graphics and animations.
At this point we are still relatively close to shore. Next time we’ll talk about navigating some of the major sea lanes of interactive marketing and social media that can send wave after wave of new business prospects, opinion leaders and other desired/desirable visitors to your site.