How fresh is your online presence?

When was the last time your organization did a complete refresh of your website and your online communication?

If it was more than three years ago, you’re looking dated and this is damaging to your value proposition. If you’re like most membership organizations, your website and your overall digital presence are far more visible than your office. Most members never see your office; it’s your online activity that represents your image.

When prospective and current members see you online they are making an assessment of the organization based on how your website and your other digital communication look and function.

Every year there are changes in online standards and “fashion”. Just like clothing, websites and other online communication get stale very quickly- in fact, more quickly. In terms of your website, it’s not just the way your website looks, it’s how it functions that gives away its age. This year’s trousers function much the same as last year’s model. They both have a zipper and pockets and you get into them one leg at a time. Not so with websites. Web functionality changes every year – just like the devices that access it.

Here’s a list of 6 top “Dos and DON’Ts” for your website and social media presence. If your website contains any of the first four very dated elements, it really is time to clean out your technology closet and budget for an upgrade.

DON’T: Pdf Forms. Really? Don’t make your members download forms, complete them by hand and fax or mail them in to you. It’s a waste of your time and theirs. Even if you accept payment via cheque, you can still facilitate online registration.

o Use online registration forms. These can be integrated to update your membership database and link directly to your online payment system.

DON’T: Manual payment. If your members are paying by credit card they should not have to contact you at all. Registration and payment should all be online.

o Members receive instant receipts and this can be linked to automated distribution of membership certificates and welcome letters, saving significant staff time.

o By the way, online payment is much more secure than phone-in calls or faxed in forms. Remember that most fraud is facilitated by human error or intent in circumventing security processes.

DON’T: Flash. Please. Thankfully there is very little Flash being used now; but if your website is still in the age of dinosaurs, get rid of it. It takes too long to load and many current devices do not support it.

o HTML 5 is the current standard. Ensure that you’re using current technology.

DON’T: Digital Brochures. It’s OK to have links to reports, white papers, and other knowledge products available for download in pdf format, but it’s not OK to have web page content in pdf format. I see this most often with events. When I click on the link to a conference it downloads a brochure in pdf format. This really sucks on a mobile device and it’s not so hot on a laptop either.

o Invest the time or the money it takes to create a real web page so everyone can read it easily. If you have a content management system you should be able to do this yourself with no technical knowledge. Oh- and if you don’t have a content management system that allows you to do simple updates yourself, it’s really time for an upgrade.

DO: Mobile Access. Ensure your site will work with all common mobile devices. Smart phones and tablets are now ubiquitous amongst most age groups. Proper mobile accessibility ensures that the information is available and in a readable form to your members. This includes variable font sizes, and properly coded text which can be “read” to the user by their device. Your web consultant can assist you with all of this.

DO: Social Media. Social media communication is time-consuming and it takes practice to master, but it’s no longer optional. Have links to your social media channels on your website. Choose the tools that best support your marketing and communications strategy. The appeal of social media is that it is more “human”. It is not all about you. It is about people who think your opinion matters. It order to matter, you need to create relevant, human oriented content that people will enjoy and follow.

o If Facebook fits your marketing strategy create a Facebook page and link it back to your site. Place a “Like” button on your site so interested people can easily add your information and gain access to more information as you post it.

o Post periodic reminders of events and activities of your organisation and others that your “followers” may be interested in. Post relevant updates on your industry or profession.
Review your website and your entire online presence. Is it fresh? Does it project the image of what you want your organisation to be like? Remember to think of the future as we are living in it now.

Need some help? Contact Zzeem at www.zzeem.com.

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