“Social media is all very well but should we not first make sure our website is up to scratch?”

December 10, 2010

I’ve heard this uttered a few times now, and to be blunt, I strongly disagree with the premise. Sure, your website should be decent, but ignoring social media because your website is ugly (or whatever else denotes a bad website) represents one of those cardinal communications sins that people are all to eager to forgive in the Internet age: being channel-centric rather than goal and audience-centric.

Off the top of my head, here are two hypotheses:

1. You’re a trade association: your site is ugly AND you’re feeling the pinch on one of your five core issues

  • The issue is making news in Brussels and beyond.
  • You have lots to say on it: your side of the story is excellent; you’ve got plenty of third party support.
  • As a key player on the issue, you know many people in Brussels are going to be interested in your position.

What would you do:

  1. Not have one because your site’s a mess and it’d be too time-consuming to fix?
  2. Add more content on your ugly site in the one section out of five that’s important now?
  3. Have a strategy that includes: a far from ugly blog in which you publish the output from your content strategy and traffic driving tactics to ensure that anyone looking up you or the issue finds it?

2. You’re a company: your site is ugly AND you’ve invented a brilliant energy efficient product that will revolutionise your industry

  • You want to let a variety of government bodies know how much more efficient your product is and get them on your side.
  • However, the government bodies aren’t paying attention because everyone seems fine with the status quo.
  • You figure you need to drum up support and apply pressure from below: you think you can do it with the help of lots of eager product champions within and outside your company.

What would you do:

  1. Not have one because your site’s ugly?
  2. Fix your ugly site and until then try to drum up support without a web presence?
  3. Develop great content featuring your product champions (video, ideally) and have a detailed, attractive page on a social networking platform where you know the vast majority of your audience will be (Facebook?) on which you feature the content and engage with potential or real supporters?

Moral of the story? Don’t get me wrong, in many cases, unless you have something specific to be talking about, it’d be odd to have a really good blog and a dire website if you know your audiences are looking up both. BUT, in terms of channels, there’s no right or wrong order to how you build up your web presence i.e. we must have a nice site, then we can blog, then we can tweet. Do what’s right for you, for your circumstances, and for your audiences, always.

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