Yearning for a Quality Web Experience


Holly Finn from The Wall Street Journal writes about Humanizing the Web where she addresses deeper meanings from the online experience. The Internet is blazingly fast with people who run madly from page to page; skimming and not reading. The pace is tiring and the online experience becomes less than satisfying. We yearn for a quality web experience.

I thought of Ms. Finn’s article when I engaged in a series of debates with two people in two social forums regarding an article I wrote as to “Why Facebook Doesn’t Send Your Traffic to Your Website” (http://leonardsipes.com/why-facebook-doesn%E2%80%99t-send-traffic-to-your-website/). In essence, the two (both very smart and knowledgeable about social media) stated that Facebook “does” send your website traffic and if it doesn’t, you’re doing it wrong.

Doing it wrong?

Doing it wrong? What could be simpler? Facebook profiles and pages are built around family, friends and shared interests. Same for Twitter and Google+. If I have thousands of followers and most are plumbers and I write about plumbing I would suspect that some are going to make it to my website and converse or comment. OK, let’s say my material stinks. Well, the law of averages would suggest that I would still get some dumb enough to find my website.

Nope, it rarely happens. Pew data on Facebook use (cited above) indicates that the site is for friends and family and my assumption is that it takes something extraordinary to get them to leave even if they share a personal or professional interest.

But it’s not just Facebook. I have had over 100 comments on Blogger or LinkedIn or other platforms yet few come to my site to extend the conversation. Yes, they do come, but not in great numbers.

But I’m not a major corporation:

Then my critics turn to the perils of not doing social media right and cite examples of corporations who had to change policies and fees because of negative social media. Not doing social media right, they suggest, is opening yourself up to grave danger.

“No doubt,” I say to myself, “But I’m not a major corporation. I’m just one person with a blog”. The people I assist are also tiny operations. They may represent well-known organizations but they are stretched to the limit with social and other responsibilities.

I’m confused. We have thousands of social media followers and we do our best to offer interesting material and all are committed to respond to users “but” then we’re told that we’re not doing it right?

Understanding who we are:

When people come to me asking for assistance I offer suggestions “but” I also understand two things:

  1. Ninety percent of those engaging in social media are very small or one person operations. The big corporations may have massive social staffs but we do not. We barely have time to generate content and interact with those who come to our sites. Most do not have the time and resources to do more.
  2. If we constantly tell the social media community they aren’t doing it right they will stop. There’s no magic in social media; it’s pretty straight-forward stuff. The criticism is defeating.

I have a suggestion for those with the endless recommendations for doing it bigger and better; stop. Providing research and helping the rest of us understand the web experience is fine “but” enough already with “you’re doing it wrong.” Besides, most problems (including a lack of traffic) will be solved with time, see http://leonardsipes.com/blogs-and-social-media-sites-that-die/.

Yes, the future is social:

We all need to understand that the future of the web is social and we need to engage and we need to participate with and listen to our customers and we need to create products that match learning styles. Participating in Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and other platforms is a plus. But asking for more is asking too much.

Holly Finn’s Wall Street Journal article speaks to a humanization of the web through stories that take time to read; a web experience based on quality, a creation of oral and written histories as an expression of hope in a world that desperately needs to slow down and enjoy the accounts of peoples’ struggles and triumphs.

To do that, we need to create quality content without hearing the echoes of experts demanding the strategic use of key words in every paragraph and insisting that we re-Tweet the messages of others.

Embracing a quality web experience:

To create a quality web experience, we have to embrace it ourselves. Create nice looking sites that serve our customers and offer great content. Extend your efforts to additional social platforms if you have the time.

Then forget about it and go for a nice long walk confident in the fact that you have reached out to your audience and invited them into your social homes for a chat.

That’s all that the overwhelming majority of us are capable of doing and we should be proud of our efforts.

Best, Len.

Source for Holly Finn’s article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203391104577124801085440474.html?grcc=0c460df269fdafa5b19a1e32fc264df7Z10&mod=WSJ_hps_sections_life

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Corey McCarren

Social media is definitely a learning experience, and while you can find plenty of recommendations for best practices, they are constantly changing. As long as you are doing a good job at avoiding offensive content (most likely you don’t want it), you’re doing alright and are on the path to social media success. It never hurts to have a mentor either, but they can only help so much, it’s up to the user to figure out what works and what doesn’t for your particular agency/cause/business ect.

Kevin Lanahan

A lot agencies have a “me-too” attitude about social media. They don’t want to miss the boat, but they don’t think too hard about who they want to interact with and why social media may help to reach that audience.

I’m lucky enough to work for an agency that works directly with the citizens of Missouri. If the people want to hunt or fish, they have to interact with us to get permits and understand the regulations. We know that they are a diverse audience, and using social media to reach them has been very successful for us. Hunting and fishing are social activities, and people like to talk about it, ask question about it and share their expertise.

Despite that, while we generate a lot of Facebook interaction when we post links, we don’t see a huge increase in traffic to our website because of it. 2-4% conversion, maybe. That’s ok. We’re on Facebook because we know the public doesn’t have much of a reason to go to our website. So we send our website to them.

Are we doing it wrong? Not according to our expectations. If we were trying to sell more permits or get more taxidermists, we’d be doing it wrong. If we wanted to geolocate people (which is kind of creepy when the government does it to you), we’d be doing it wrong. But we are interacting where we need to at this point.

Leonard Sipes

Hi Kevin, Robert and Corey: I greatly appreciate your comments. I think we all realize that the future of web communications “is” social but our resources are limited; we need to make the best possible decisions with limited means. I think that it’s time to return to basics and do them well rather than trying to be all things to all people.

Kevin Lanahan

Robert, we traditionally interacted with the public on a one-to-one basis, in the form of emails, phone calls, letters and face-to-face interactions. We’d occasionally have forums or other public meetings to discuss big issues. We wanted a way to reach more Missourians and social media seemed to fit the bill.

We now receive more questions through Facebook than our ombudsman does by phone, mail and email combined. We have one-to-many responses instead of just one-to-one responses, and when we are not at our desks, other fans frequently crowd-source the answers. And they do it correctly most of the time.

Has it cut down on our phone calls, emails and letters? Nope. But we’ve provided another channel to reach our audience, and reaching more Missourians with a conservation message is core to our mission.

Leonard Sipes

Hi Robert: A very important point and an excellent example of the use of social media. Not everything needs to happen on your website. Best, Len.