By Brian Robson
Perhaps the most “social” kind of online communication, within the commercial history of the Internet, is the oldest and least likely form of social media: A business website, which should be dynamic by design and informative by intent, where the entire site – from the use of color and illustrations to the quality of the content and the consistency of messaging – resonates with the reader and reverberates with the viewer.
For, a generic site conveys a separate statement about mediocrity and indifference; that a company’s principal point of contact with the public – the first place most people seek, for material about specific products and services, or details about the history and management of a particular business – is as anonymous as it is ambiguous.
How, then, can that same company even think of flourishing within the world of social media when it cannot meet (or exceed) the threshold necessary for having an acceptable website?
I pose that question not as an impartial observer, but as an executive invested in the outcome of this discussion and its long-term impact on branding, marketing and promotions, and sales and customer service; because, in my role as President of FD Johnson, I have a duty to honor a professional pledge – to keep each client’s machinery running – that is inseparable from my personal promise to help each customer select the right pumps, valves and systems for that individual’s warehouse or manufacturing facility.
I have a responsibility, therefore, to socialize in-person, while my website must be a means for potential customers to socialize by calling me (or speaking to my co-workers) about buying the merchandise we carry.
In the absence of that resource, it does not matter how many Facebook posts I publish or how many tweets I release, it does not matter how prolific I may be on YouTube or how prominent I choose to be on Google+, if my website has the look and feel of a cold and impersonal company obsessed with the bottom line.
Hence my surprise about the failure of too many sites to showcase the values of, because of the failure of too many executives to emphasize the virtues involving, personalized service and professional accountability.
There is no mobile app for something so fundamental because there is no type of technology that can replace something so essential to our very being.
There is, in short, no substitute for common sense.
The lack of that trait – the proof of that void – is visible by what you do not see: No commitment to excellence, no appreciation for history, no engagement with consumers and no support for the physical community that fills a company with its workers, helps a company use the nearby roads and bridges to ship its orders and furnishes the utilities to keep that business running.
So, yes, a website is its own form of social media, news, commentary and promotions.
The summons to business owners is an invitation to choose; it is a moment to accept or decline the rewards of success, because the price of greatness is responsibility.
That process begins with a website worthy of praise, infused with substance and written with style.
That process must begin now.