Saturday, August 07, 2010

Websites not optional. Social Media, maybe

So for those of you who are not in the know, Mark and I have recently moved to Bowden, Alberta. It is am SMALL town. We decided to rent in Bowden to facilitate my new (yipee!) position as a full-time communications instructor at Olds College. Olds, which is another, not so small, town, is about 10 minutes from Bowden. Since we don't know where Mark is going to end up working we though this a good spot. See we live in what is dubbed 'the corridor', which is a series of towns all about 10 minutes from each other that exist in the exquisite nexus of land that is between Calgary and Edmonton, which counts Red Deer (half way between Calgary and Edmonton) as its reason for existence. Red Deer is the third largest city in Alberta (I can hear all the people in Lethbridge hissing between their teeth) and a huge oil and gas town. Between Red Deer and Calgary are a series of communities that have steadily become more interesting to Calgary escapees, and those who wish to work in 'the Deer' and not live there, or rather, to live some place less expensive. Hence, Innisfail, Bowden and Olds have all boomed in the last ten years. Bowden definitely has seen the slowest growth, mainly due to the fact that is has a minimum security penitentiary and being the community furthest from Red Deer(the closest being Innisfail) and Calgary (the closest being Olds), but Mark and I feel there is a good chance that Bowden’s day is about to dawn,

But all that aside, lets get to what I really want to talk about, websites. First of all, Olds is not a large community as I said, about 15,000 people, and it swells when the students arrive, but still, we are still talking a large town. When we moved I did something horrific to my neck and have been in pain now a week straight. I needed a chiropractor, a massage therapist, and an acupuncturist. When I started to look for these things I did what about 75% of people do these days to find them, I Googled. And what did I find? Well I found, and on line white page listings. Not one of these companies had a website. Not one.

But what shocked me is that two of them had Facebook Fan pages! These businesses couldn’t be bothered to invest in a basic website, which, let’s be honest is really all they needed: times open, rates, services, pictures of staff. Rather, they went with a content hungry,  time consuming and possibly limiting medium to advertise their business. If I asked them why, they would most likely tell me that they were advised to by their kids, or that all the kids were doing it. If I asked them to tell me what sort of return they were getting from Facebook, they most likely wouldn’t be able to give me numbers of walk-ins or hits. I would surprised if they knew about Facebook Insight or how to use Google Analytics. And as most Facebook users know, Facebook requires constant updating to be really valuable. Who is doing this? Who is updating their Fan page with new info? Who is controlling the conversation happening on their wall? Probably, a revolving crew of people who do it ‘when they have time’. This just proves to me one thing, as a business has to have a website, it is a basic tool of business like a debit machine or business cards; however, business should seriously ask themselves why they think it would be better to go with a social media site, like Facebook. Have these business really considered what business problem they are solving by having a Fan page? Or have they simply created more work for themselves, and presented a less user friendly face to potential customers?

Posted via email from Completely Barking Mad


Rick Overwater said...

Welcome to Olds College! As the Communications Coordinator, who will likely see eye to eye with you on 99% fo communications topics, would love to have you drop by and chat. This got picked up by Google alerts, one of our many shoestring-budget techniques for catching media hits. Hope to meet you soon.

Heidi Schempp Fournier said...

Thanks for the welcome! I am sure we will meet very soon! Hopefully, when I have managed to crawl out from underneth all the prep I have for the fall! :-)