Monday, November 24, 2008

Roll Call – Where are Your People?

For the last few months (give or take a year), I’ve been trying to wrap my arms around a specific issue. How do you help a large, distributed, diverse and independent organization become more engaging online?

We’ve spent a great deal of time working on the web presence, developing a content management strategy and struggling with the issue of navigation and structure.

My conclusion? There is more to engagement than good content.

This isn’t to suggest that content isn’t important, content is critical. However, when you have a solid content management system in place; when your systems supports good SEO guidelines; when your presentation is set and you have a model for your site map; it’s time to look at other technologies and engagement strategies to promote your content and build an audience.

Something is missing… or better yet, someone is missing. Where is everybody? Who creates this content? What do they bring to the table? I want more than what is edited and formatted into news, announcements, publications or even educational modules. I want humor, ideas, guidance, and opinions. You want engagement? Talk to me.

Tell me what you are doing. What’s important and relevant in your area of expertise and why? How do you feel about current events? I need your help to filter and find the most useful resources. Help me develop context. I already know how to use Google, Wikipedia, or to browse your site (although I may not bother).

To borrow some relevant insights from Nicholas Skytland of NASA in his post “Social Media: What’s the Point?”. Participation helps:
  • Create a transparent and connected organization
  • Encourage a modern communications structure
  • Employ innovative technology to collaborate on and solve our challenges
  • Improve how teams integrate to solve problems
  • Ensure full and free access to information
  • Share your compelling stories with the Public
  • Flatten organization structures
  • Change our approach to advertisement and marketing

Build a real engagement strategy. Put a face(s) on your organization. Participate. Use networking tools like Twitter, blogs and Friendfeed. Share more than your content, share your experiences. Employ staff who have passion and a message (voice) and let them go.

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