10 Things Chambers of Commerce Can Do To Improve Their Websites (Part 2)

Posted by Curt Moss on Oct 7, 2009 2:22:00 PM

How can your chamber of commerce improve your website?Earlier this week I posted Part 1 of 10 Things Chambers of Commerce Can Do To Improve Their Websites.   Today, I continue with Part 2.

5. Cross promote your social media activities – You’ve probably got a Twitter account, a blog, a Facebook page and a LinkedIn profile.  You might even have a Flickr account or a YouTube channel.  How will your site visitors know about these unless you tell them? Include social media icons on your home page (every page would be better) and link them to your respective social media accounts.  Use widgets to include your chamber’s Twitter feed on your blog or website and link your blog’s RSS feed to your Twitter account and your Facebook stream.  You never know when someone’s going to be paying attention for the first time, so be sure to cross promote your efforts in the appropriate media outlets.

4. Post more photos  – Services such as Flickr or Picasa and many others make it very easy to upload photos and link to them or embed them on your site.  Take lots of photos of your community or at events, ribbon cuttings and press conferences…anytime…and share them with your site visitors. Use photos in your site’s design, create photo galleries and embed slide shows on appropriate pages.  Your members love to see photos from events. With a digital camera and a notebook computer, you can even upload directly from an event! If you use Facebook for photo albums, make sure you link to them from your website, too.  (See #5 above)

3.  Add more videos - With the availability of easy-to-use pocket video cameras like the Flip series and cell phones that can capture video, there is no excuse for not using videos.  Videos add a dynamic aspect to your site and site visitors love to watch them.  Use videos to post member testimonials, “live” updates from city council meetings or events.  Include videos in your blog posts to show the human side of your chamber and communicate your position on issues.  Generally, keep most videos 1-3 minutes long with occasional more in-depth videos.  You DO have a channel on YouTube, don’t you?  (If not, go create one now.)  See this post with examples of chambers of commerce using YouTube.

2. Include search – Include a site search box on your home page.  On every page would be even better.  Usually, search boxes are located somewhere near the top right of the page, but wherever you place it, keep it consistent on all pages.  Despite all the great changes you’ve just made to your navigation (in point #9), some people simply want to search instead and they expect that you’ll have that option. If you don’t, they might not stick around.

1. Create great content – Yes, you could call photos and video content, but I’m talking about good old fashioned text.  Relevant, timely and frequent.  A blog is one way to add content and helps position your chamber as an expert and news generator.  But, you should also add content to other areas of your site.  Keyword-rich text about visiting, living in and working in your community plus local business news helps your site rank higher for local searches – something your chamber needs to own! 

Use your readers’ vocabulary to deliver relevant content.  When possible, include real-life examples from members of how certain issues affect their business.  Keep text short and simple, use correct grammar and spelling and make it unique and interesting.  You might not think you can create that much content....yes you can! You can write about the history of your community, famous residents, long-time members and their impact on business in the area.  You can write about current business issues and member benefits and all the things your chamber does on a daily basis to benefit business in your community.  Great content is what will attract visitors to your site and updated content is what will bring them back. 

Notice a trend with these items?  Yes, they all involve work that you must do.   You must take an active roll in producing great content, setting goals for your website and making change that help produce the results you want.   Do these things well and you'll ultimately create more value for your members, which helps improve retention and generate new member sales.

And, you've probably noticed that many of these items aren't exclusively about your website - they involve other tools as well.  Your website should be the hub of ALL of your communications efforts and it should overlap with each of them.  Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, your blog, your printed newsletter, your events - they all should tie back into your website.  This is probably a shift in thinking for some chambers of commerce.   Think of your organization as a media company and find ways to use your various communications tools together to tell your story

There's an added benefit to making all these improvements, too, besides better usability and increased traffic - non-dues revenue.  I'll highlight ways you can leverage all the hard work you've done on your website and improve your chamber's bottom line in an upcoming post.

What improvements have you made to your website?  How have you measured the results?  What other ways do you think chambers can improve their websites? Let me know in the comments below.  Thanks!

Topics: Membership Marketing & Technology