Back in December ’05, I had to prepare for a presentation on “websites and technology” to a room full of campaign folks. There wasn’t a lot of direction on what they wanted me to cover.
I racked my brain and thought the most pertinent information would be to share what I consider the elements needed to develop a successful website. That’s when I decided to talk about how to build a “virtual presence”. I’m definitely not the creator of the phrase but I don’t think there are too many people using it in quite the same way I did then or continue to do now.
The “virtual presence” articulates the idea that in order to be successful online today, you need more than just a website. There are millions of pages on the web and both time and attention are limited. A successful virtual presence consists of three elements: relevant and timely information, a great sense of community, and multiple connecting points:
Relevant and timely information – A website needs great content
More visually unappealing sites with great content succeed than do brilliantly designed site with boring or outdated content. At the end of the day, content is king.
Sense of community – A website should foster a sense of “belonging”
With the latest web technologies available (e.g., blogs), there is absolutely no reason why a website should not have some sort of interactive or feedback mechanism built into it.
Multiple connecting points – A website should allow people to consume content the way they want
That might mean putting the same type of content into a monthly newsletter as is on your blog. Why? Well, the person that reads the blog may not want to sign-up for another e-mail newsletter. The additional connecting point might also appeal to a completely different demographic, such as youth or the very tech savvy.
These are just some brief thoughts. If you are interested in chatting more about these ideas, feel free to contact me (including via IM, which I have now placed on my sidebar – if the icon is grayed, that means I am not online).