…but your content matters more than ever. I came to that realization a few months ago while I was sifting through our stats on Google Analytics.
We had just wrapped up a massive redesign of longhollow.com and were enjoying an influx of new visitors and renewed interest about our site. To take advantage of this momentum (and the launch of Facebook’s revamped “Pages”), I decided to launch an official fan page on Facebook where our folks could get together and interact in a place they were already spending much of their time. Our Facebook page turned out to be a huge hit, with more than 800 fans in less than a week.
After the launch of our official social presence, I noticed something different on longhollow.com… Our stats were down for the first time in months. It wasn’t a huge decrease, but it was noticeable loss of visits and a little startling at first. Then it hit me: some folks just don’t need our website any more.
An Unexpected Outcome
For years, I’ve made an effort to free up all of the content we produce at Long Hollow to be consumed in a variety of formats. We have about a dozen RSS Feeds and Email Lists. We’ve begun using Flickr as the engine to drive all of our photo galleries. We switched from a custom Flash video player to using Vimeo a few months back. Heck, we even have our own Dashboard Widget!
My efforts to syndicate all of our content are finally paying off, but in a different way than I initially expected. Once Facebook made it so simple to pump all of our content directly into our Fan Page, our “fans” had all of the information they desired from us right where they wanted it; any time we post a message online, link to a new photo gallery or promote an upcoming event, it’s funneled right in front of their nose along with everything their friends are doing. Going anywhere else for that information becomes redundant.
Our folks are better informed than ever without even visiting our website, and that’s a good thing.
It’s Not About Your Site’s Popularity
Your website should be the best one-stop shop for all of your content, but not the only shop in town. Visitors should be able to easily find the information they’re looking for on your site, but they should also be able to get your information in a way that’s convenient to them.
Too often we focus on getting people to our sites instead of focusing on getting information to our people. You’re not selling ad space on your church’s site (at least I hope you’re not), so in the scheme of things your site’s web traffic isn’t all that important as long as people are getting the information they need.
But what if nobody wants your content?
Rethink What Matters to Your Visitors
From time to time, it’s great to just throw everything out and start from scratch to evaluate what you really need to communicate. Ask yourself what information your congregation and new visitors genuinely desire to receive from you, and build your site around that information. Once that’s nailed down, develop a strategy for freeing up all of that great content into a convenient package that eliminates communication barriers.
Remember that your visitors aren’t looking to be impressed by your awesome design, but to get information and connect with the Church. Strive to make your website the best way for folks to stay informed, but not the only way; there’s a world of untapped potential online waiting just beyond your domain name.