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You've left us really enthused about the whole digital dimension and we're looking forward to developing our plan with your support.
Simon Beardow - Deputy Director, British Council, Vietnam

Sunday, 30 May 2010

The Big E

This icon, known as the "feed icon" ...Image via Wikipedia
Right from the early days of the web building engagement with a brand has been one of the most important things to strive for.

The sites of a decade ago used simple but effective devices to capture and hold users; competitions and web cams to name but two.

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. In the 1950' when organised dances were still the rage there used to a competition called the Lucky Spot .  When the music stopped the couple nearest to a predefined marking on the dance floor won a prize.

Semantic Web For Dummies
We once used the same principle with a web cam to run online competitions and to build a membership database.

With the development of the semantic web users now have far more sophisticated expectations, although the quantum change is that they expect the web information to come to them, rather than the old way of having to make repeat visits to a site to glean information and stay informed.

Companies that persist with the old idea of "build a site and they will come" do so at their peril. The new reality is that users may come once and if they see content they like, they expect to be able to subscribe to its news feed or embed it in their own sites or blog.

From this moment forward they stay engaged with your brand from afar, only returning to a site when an item captures their interest.

The importance of RSS: No web site should be released unless it has RSS subscription options  for each page or content topic. This RSS can then be used to push content virally to multiple channels simultaneously.

Digital strategy demands a sophisticated approach to user engagement.  Companies must embrace the idea of having as much brand presence on other (third party sites) as as on their own.

To truly engage you need to be where the market is and to be using the tools that the target segment employs.

Engagement also needs to occur in other digital dimensions. Leading brand conversations through blogs, driving traffic from social media platforms to your content, to name but two.

Ultimately though your brand proposition  and online worth depends on content. The old adage of "if you don't have something good to say, don't say it", still applies.

Just being online because the opposition is there is entirely counter productive.  To build engagement your communications and digital channel strategy must be carefully thought through.  Resource needs to be allocated and not just for the build phase of the project.

Having an online presence is just the beginning; it is not an end in itself.  Engagement will only build if you have quality content and provide the tools to interact.

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