5 Reasons Why Your Website is a Garden

I’m often in a meeting trying to explain the crux of a website, and after likely 100+ of my poor car analogies. I’ve finally landed on one I can trust – your website is a garden. Let’s have some fun with it.

  1. Websites should never die – they evolve. Much like a garden, with time and resources a website can take many different functions and designs over the course of time.
  2. Websites a much deeper than what you can see. Like the roots of a garden, a website should be tied to many elements of your business – CRM, analytics, business intelligence and databases.
  3. Websites require maintenance. Like pulling weeds, old content and broken links must be removed over time. There are exceptions to this, for example, the Space Jam website and nooooooooooooooo.com.
  4. There are many tools involved. Until I Googled it for the purpose of this analogy, I had no idea there were so many tools you could use in a garden (most are sold by Canadian Tire). On a website, there are a number tools including: link checkers, readability tools and accessibility checkers at your disposal.
  5. When done right, they are beautiful! Like the amazing VanDusen Botanical VanDusen Gardens RoseGardens in Vancouver, websites can be awe-inspiring. It takes strategy, design and execution to make it all work, and when it comes together, the results can change lives.

Feel free to spread the analogy and use it wherever you can!

Smoke Signals and Messaging.

Most recently I sat in the vast ocean of audience that was listening to a keynote from @JesseHirsh CBC’s national correspondant in technology, thinking to myself what Social Media consists of for the audience.

Jesse mentioned that “Social Media” really began with smoke signals, this dates back to ancient china when soldiers would send smoke signals to alert their countrymen over 750 kilometers away. This was really significant to me. Every time I face clients who are apprehensive about “social media” I’m of the view that this fear is really fear of the unknown. However, this media is already “known” to them, it’s merely an extension of their current communication strategy. The tools have changed but the game is the same.

If you believe in Marshal Mcluhan’s “the medium is the message” then the message may be different, however the goal is the same. The real change is in the tools, much as the evolution from radio, to television to internet, all of these mediums have relied on similar content. The most important thing we can teach is the tools.

Our mission should be to build the confidence in clients that they already have message, and that we can transform that message to fit the new mediums.

Social Media isn’t about followers, or fans, or click-through rates, it’s about building relationships with your network. Once that network is built on trust and value, then you can start looking at the numbers.

Those numbers are the measure of success but can only exist if you understand the reason behind the smoke signals.

Measuring your Twitter Klout

Recently, when asked by a client how they could properly measure their success versus competitors on Twitter, I defaulted to my typical answer, but then thought it out a little more.

Initially I thought of Klout.com or Kred.com. After my cursory view of both the client and their competitor I noticed that, although the client had a much more thought out content strategy, the competitor scored higher on Klout and Kred.

After my first look, this made me think of the obvious issues that already exist in measuring Twitter success (I have reluctantly relied on these sites). Of course, they provide at least some input on the matter; they have ever improving analytics of  true reach and amplification. However I have yet to see a site be able to provide a strong measurement reflecting content effectiveness.

It is my hope that Klout, while integrated with Facebook, may be able to integrate with link shortening applications to measure engagement and click throughs on content. The actual consumption of the content can be easy to measure if you own the short links however it is quite difficult to know whether or not your RTs are being read or not. Most will contend that these will receive more RTs, however that’s likely an assumption of consumption.

No matter how you slice it, we are currently missing a big piece of the analytical pie on Twitter. The question is, which service will fill the gap first?