We're launching a new website at my company in a few months. If you're curious you can read this article. We've done the usual - hired a design firm to help us build and optimize the site. We're also working on new messaging, branding and positioning for our services. Here's the rub. We don't and won't ever have the marketing dollars necessary to get lots and lots of people hang out on our site. And, even if we did have a Procter and Gamble-sized budget, people don't hang out on corporate websites. It's not where the party's at.
Think about it. When was the last time you pulled up a specific organizational or corporate website? Did you go directly to Southwest.com to book a plane ticket? Did you go directly to Zappos.com to buy a new pair of shoes? And what about nonprofits? When was the last time you went directly to the home page of your favorite charity?
If you're like most people before you visit specific websites, you visit search engines like Google, Live or Bing to gather information. Or you visit "site aggregators" like Expedia or Wikipedia to get an overview of lots of different brands and collect information. From there you drill down to visit specific sites.
And, there's probably one additional way that you get the 411. You use social networking sites, like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin to shop, research, connect and learn.
Don't believe me? Check it out. According to Alexa.com, these are the top 13 sites on the Internet. Note: Your website is not on this list. :)
- Google google.com
Enables users to search the Web, Usenet, and images. Features include PageRank, caching and translation of results, and an option to find similar pages. The company's focus is developing search technology.
- Facebook facebook.com
A social utility that connects people, to keep up with friends, upload photos, share links and videos.
- Yahoo! yahoo.com
Personalized content and search options. Chatrooms, free e-mail, clubs, and pager.
- YouTube youtube.com
YouTube is a way to get your videos to the people who matter to you. Upload, tag and share your videos worldwide!
- Windows Live live.com
Search engine from Microsoft.
- Wikipedia wikipedia.org
An online collaborative encyclopedia.
- Blogger.com blogger.com
Free, automated weblog publishing tool that sends updates to a site via FTP.
- Microsoft Network (MSN) msn.com
Dialup access and content provider.
- Baidu.com baidu.com
The leading Chinese language search engine, provides "simple and reliable" search experience, strong in Chinese language and multi-media content including MP3 music and movies, the first to offer WAP and PDA-based mobile search in China.
- Yahoo!カテゴリ yahoo.co.jp
- Myspace myspace.com
Social Networking Site.
- Google India google.co.in
Indian version of this popular search engine. Search the whole web or only webpages from India. Interfaces offered in English, Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi and Tamil.
- Twitter twitter.com
Social networking and microblogging service utilising instant messaging, SMS or a web interface.
These are the sites where consumers, i.e. your current and prospective donors, members, advocates hang out. This is where the party's at. What this means for you. Find a way to hang out there too!
Now, this is a list of the most trafficked sites on the Web. And while it does give you a good overview of where you need to be, you should also determine which sites are the best hot spots for your unique audiences. You can do this via a survey of your members or via a social networking data append.
Before I go...I'm not saying that you shouldn't have a corporate website. (Although, many social networking utilities and site aggregators are enabling charities to use their websites as micro sites for their organizations.) You still need a home base on the Web to do business, i.e. collect information about your supporters and raise money. But it is also imperative that you develop and employ strategies to connect with your audiences where they already live online.