Monday, January 5, 2009

Core of new web strategy

Over the next few posts I plan to share the core concepts that we have decided to focus on as we move from having a web site to having an online presence.  The first thing to note, is that first sentence.  In 2009 the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago will be making a move from just a web site to having a real online presence. What is the difference?

The difference is that an online presence will include much more than a web site.  In addition to the web site we will be launching an intranet and beginning to extend to social networks\media.  It will be a lot of work to launch all of these in 2009 but with a fresh start on all fronts, comes a unique opportunity, we will look for ways to tightly integrate and overlap all of these efforts.  It is too early to jump to some of these ideas, but one example is integrating a purposeful use of LinkedIn into our staff/volunteer intranet.

Core of our strategy - Start a conversation with a call to action

It is as simple as starting an online conversation with a deliberate call to action. I did not invent this concept or idea, I am just applying what I have learned from many smart people.

There is nothing dramatically wrong with our current web site, except that for the most part it is just an online version of our brochures. It tells people things and then gives them few options of things to do.

Listen: Our new strategy will add in the element of listening, we need to provide ways for members to interact with us.  This also means we need to get out where the people already are (like social networks) and listen to the conversations they are having about us.

Act: Act will be an effort to build gradual and multiple ways for our communities to engage with us, rather than only providing things to do (like sales).

Share: Sharing who we are, what makes us unique is much different than telling people about our buildings, memberships and programs.  In addition to changing our content, we will also be moving toward content that is specific to the audience.  The little picture of whispering in the ear for the share column is appropriate.  We want to stop screaming to large groups and not be heard, but shift to direct messages to those who are interested.

So that is what we are calling the core of our online presence strategy.  I dont think there are new revelations here, but maybe the way I shared it will bring it to new audiences or start other conversations.

Happy New Year to all of you.  Watch for the next post where I will give a more in depth example of this core concept of Hear, Act, Share.


Jeff said...

Steve, glad to see some deep thoughts about web strategy, especially in the Y space. Not to pick any scabs, what are your thoughts on getting Y leadership and staff to buy into such a cultural shift?

As an FYI, we've been compiling some good (and not so good) examples of YMCA marketing and communications on our forums. Feel free to check out and look for the online annual giving and the marketing/communications directories.

Keep beating the drum, Steve!

Steve Heye said...

Hi Jeff,

I think I will do a blog post about Y staff and leadership buy in for cultural shift. But I think at this point in time things are starting to turn, many more people have realized how important and influential the web can be. However, they then proceed to say to post some ads and specials online, OY. So while the support for doing web work is growing, understanding how and why, is not.