In the two years I have been doing social media strategy, one of the most interesting themes has been the importance of having a top-notch Web site.
It’s not something many companies think about when they’re getting into social media. They are more focused on deciding whether a blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or LinkedIn make the most sense. Companies also spend a lot of time thinking about tactics and the need to create content.
But the importance of having a strong Web site to support a company’s social media efforts is frequently overlooked, if not ignored. This approach has increasingly struck me as wrong because social media and a corporate Web site are a powerful and complementary one-two punch.
At the end of the day, social media is, among other things, a way to drive in-bound traffic. Companies create and distribute content, including a healthy amount that highlights corporate activity. It could be press releases, information about products and services, investor information, videos or blogs.
If traffic is being driven to your Web site, it better meet expectations. It needs to do a good job of telling visitors what you do and why they should care. It should deliver well-articulated, clear and great stories. And it should encourage people who have been attracted by social media to do something – be it asking for more information, request a demo, buy a product or service, etc.
If your Web site isn’t up to the task, if it’s boring, difficult to navigate, or fails to quickly tell visitors why they are there, it doesn’t matter how good or engaging your social media efforts are because you have failed to follow through on expectations. It’s like having great advertising for a terrible product.
For clients, it means I’m an advocate that their Web sites are an asset that can support social media rather than cutting it off at the knees. In some cases, it may mean telling a company it should focus on refreshing its Web site before it embraces social media. Or it could mean a company should get into social media and upgrade its Web site at the same time.
Putting social media on pause so a company can improve its Web site can be a tough pill to swallow because an overhauled Web site isn’t as sexy as creating a Facebook Page or getting into Twitter. But it can be a necessary evil so when a company does jump into the social media fray, it does so from a position of strength.
The other thing about the need to have a high-quality Web site is the fact many companies ignored their Web sites during the economic boom. Why spend money on a Web site when business is booming. It’s the old if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it adage. Now, however, many Web sites are several years old, making them dated in terms of content, features and design.
So while social media is new and sexy, it shouldn’t distract companies from making sure their Web sites do their job so Facebook, Twitter, et al can do their jobs effectively as well.