06 Nov 2013
It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to roll my sleeves up and get involved directly in building a website. That all changed, over the weekend, when my wife convinced me to build a website for Just Sheep, her new online business selling wool blankets. They’re lovely products, by the way.
Because I’m familiar with WordPress, which I use for Cybersoc.com as well as my (now defunct) blog about St. Albans, I decided to set up a fresh instance, buy a domain name, and install a theme.
The first install went badly, and I went a bit beyond my own capabilities making alterations to the theme, so I ended up wiping the the WordPress database using the MySQL control panel provided by my host.
To be clear, I don’t actually know what I’m doing half the time, but I do tend to understand how different configuration settings are likely to work, and actually enjoy trying to sniff out the bits of code that determine positioning, system messages, etc. After the fresh install, which wiped out a good 4-5 hours of work, it’s all been pretty smooth sailing.
The theme I bought and installed integrates really nicely with WooCommerce, an e-commerce service I’ve never used before. It handles inventory, pricing, postage calculation and all that fun back office stuff. It also has a nice shopping cart based ordering system for customers, with PayPal enabled check-out. I’ve also set up google analytics and google adwords for the site as well as a fresh paypal account, ebay account and amazon marketplace seller account.
There’s still a lot of work to do on the site. Our product photos need to be re-shot by a professional in a studio, rather than by us in the living room on a Sunday morning, and we need to get unique product codes (UPC) for the products before we can sell on Amazon. A logo is being created. The text content needs to be reworked- there are just basic product descriptions at present. And, although I’ve already set up Pinterest and Twitter accounts, there’s more work to be done planning and setting up social media services.
If you’ve not built in WordPress before, or it’s been a while since you’ve done so, I strongly encourage you to give it a bash – it’s not just an immensely powerful CMS, it’s also reasonably easy to get your head around. It’s also quite fun, if you usually work at the strategy, planning and content end of things, to actually bring a new website to life through your own efforts.
In many of my posts over the past year or so, I’ve found myself questioning the value of digital and social media but make no mistake, these posts are not attacks, rather pleas to the industry to do a bit of necessary growing up.
Brands don’t need a social media strategy any more than they need a press release strategy, a payroll strategy or a Christmas party strategy. They need a digital and social media programme that is aligned to their overall business strategy.
Yet many brands and organisations still approach it from the wrong end of the equation – by deciding they should “do” digital or social or Enterprise collaboration before actually knowing why, or even whether, they should be investing in these areas. It’s like choosing a hammer before realising you actually need a drill because what you really want is a millimetre perfect hole.
Fans and followers, retweets and likes, click throughs and shares are all great IF they lead to outcomes of strategic importance. They are meaningless, however, in isolation.
If its not clear why you’re investing in social media, all the statistics and measured outputs in the world won’t deliver a positive return on investment. Here’s a ten step approach to help you make the most of your investment:
- Take the time to understand your business strategy
- Identify and prioritise important strategic objectives
- Understand existing processes for achieving those objectives
- Look at the resources required to deliver those processes
- Understand what stakeholders – employees, investors, customers, etc – need to be engaged so as to turn those processes into desire able outcomes (and don’t forget to tease out their motivations)
- Map it all back to digital and social media, finding the sweet spot(s) where you can leverage these tools to deliver more effectively or efficiently
- Define a programme for doing this
- Tie the desired outcomes into existing measurement frameworks
- Implement, measure, analyse and iterate
- Capture best, and worst, practice and share the knowledge widely
27 Sep 2013
Cybersoc is 17.
In late September 1996, I decided to publish my MA Sociology Thesis, an ethnography about online communities, online. I ordered a copy of Adobe Pagemill, the first WYSIWYG html editor, and bashed together a website which, aside from a purple background and the odd blink tag, wasn’t THAT bad.
Within a few days I was getting letters from my ISP, Demon Internet, complaining that traffic to my site, hosted on a “tenner a month” account, had temporarily knocked down their entire web hosting infrastructure. Unbeknownst to me, I’d be listed as “Yahoo’s Cool Site of the Day” back when Yahoo mattered (this was two years before Google launched).
Happy 17th birthday, website.
A recent McKinsey study (link hat tip to Dion Hincliffe) highlights the importance, for brands, of focusing holistically on all the touch-points of the customer journey rather than on isolated interactions (which they call “moments”):
“Customers are increasingly using multiple channels to interact with companies in an effort to meet their needs. To resolve a billing issue, for example, customers will often start with their bill, turn to the internet, call in to a call center, revisit the web site to check for resolution, and finally confirm a resolution on their next statement. In fact, over 70percent of very satisfied customers build a favorable impression when their needs are met over three or more touchpoints. A Customer Journeys approach addresses this.
Additionally, Customer Journeys are consistently better predictors of value. They do a better job than the touchpoint approach of predicting a customer’s willingness to recommend the company to others or to renew their business. They also give more reliable insight about a customer’s likelihood to cancel/churn…”
The McKinsey research is worth a read: http://csi.mckinsey.com/knowledge_by_topic/consumer_and_shopper_insights/consumer_experience_journey