An organization’s website is a source for reliable information, brand identity, mission, expertise. Hopefully it’s also a forum for visitors to engage with each other, rate experiences, share recommendations, stream videos and podcasts. But unless you work for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc, your website is not a social network.
So organizations have learned to go out and meet people where they are. We set up pages (or, shortly, timelines) and work hard to engage fans. We join conversations (and #followtrends). We offer incentives to check in. And we try to make sure all of these activities are easily associated with our organizations and drive traffic home.
Suzanne and I discussed Facebook as a hub for our many scattered profiles, a digital 3rd place. Pages are highly customizable–this recent New York Times piece gives a how-to on 12 less-known functions from polling to blocking abusive comments. I wonder how the shift to timeline will affect our organizations’ Facebook identities.
In my experience, an organization’s blog can also be a social hub, and maybe a more useful one. Its content and style can be carefully vetted yet remain spontaneous, responsive, personal, collaborative, authentic, and out just a little ahead of the “institutional voice” represented by your website and press releases. A blog may seem as if it would share your website’s issues–it’s not a well-known digital gathering place, at least not yet. But as readers become engaged, it can steadily infiltrate RSS feeds, Google+, reddit, delicious, FB social reader, and help you jump to the top of search results. Why not use it as your daily newspapers and glossy magazines use their blogs?
Facebook, blog, or something else? Will Google+ play a roll, especially with the hangout function? Take the poll, comment, and tell us about your efforts to build a hub online.