Saturday, 1 February 2014

Society Saturday - Websites, Blogs and Social Media


Genealogical & family history societies here in the UK typically do not have a base. There are some societies that do, but many do not and therefore how a society is seen by the wider public is important.

In that event, societies perhaps need to be a little creative and have a degree of awareness.  In this day and age most societies have a web page. Lets align the web page to a shop. The page represents the society physical structure, the shelves, the stock - If you want shampoo you would visit a store that sells shampoo and much more, if you want to find out about a society whose focus is on your area of research you visit that web page. You get the idea?

The web page is static on the whole, but there is a degree of movement as new material is added and so forth. That is much the same as a shop who magically re-merchandise the shop periodical , so that where shampoo once sat is now located by anything from banana's to nappies! The front page of the website is where your society has an opportunity to capture the attention of a viewer. That decision is made in a fairly short time, typically seconds. A front page of a website that has not been reviewed or altered in a few years does not infer that things happen here, or sends the message that the society has not moved with the times, in other words is outdated. In much the same way as a shop that had a refit 30 years ago and has not refreshed the paint.

If your society has a blog let's align that to the shop window. The shop window exists to tempt and tantalise people to walk through the doors. Someone sees what is in the window and makes a decision to go in and purchase. Some people are natural reflectors and revisit the shop to look again only to find the shop window has changed and the item they were hoping to look at again is not on window display and they need to go in, in order to have a look.

Having understood the concept of the shop window. Does your society blog do that? Does it have a steady and regular flow of movement? Is it welcoming and informative? Does it entice people and encourage them to leave comments and share posts?

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We have all heard the expression "there is no such thing as bad publicity". Companies spend millions on advertising. The advertising on the television, radio and alike. Mentions of a particular business name in the press, simply by being the named topic in a report, (good or bad) is advertising that has not been paid for, yet it raises the appeal and knowledge of the wider public.

I am not suggesting that our societies should be named on the news in order to get publicity, but if a blog post is written it can be shared easily within the social media arena? Remember this is zero cost to the society. Therefore is that free advertising avenue being utilised as much as it should be? I am also not suggesting that the same thing is tweeted or shared every hour, but used sensibly and understood social media is free advertising and profile raising.

Have you looked at your society recently?

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