More and more unions are starting up Facebook and Twitter accounts, but the fact is that your union’s website is much more important than all your social media combined.
In Australia, there are more people using social media than ever, but when it comes to actually interacting with your union in a meaningful way (such as joining, volunteering, contacting an organiser) the first thing they will do is visit your website, not your Facebook page.
With many unions still having outdated websites, now is the time to invest in a refresh. Afterall, websites are the central hub for all online campaigning.
Here are five reasons why you should fix your union’s website before it gets onto social media:
Having a fresh, modern website lets you ensure that the branding is consistent and professional. It means you can directly customise the user experience to support the goals of your union. Whereas Facebook and Twitter have strict limitations on how pages look, your own website means that visitors to your site get an experience that your union designs.
When you control your own union website, you have complete jurisdiction over its code, hosting environment, page count, content, plug-ins and more. This means that you have control to make any necessary changes, as well as major improvements for specific campaigns. With Facebook and Twitter, you can only tweak minor graphics, but not the underlying code.
Content is important for so many reasons — engagement, SEO and social to name a few — so putting your content on your website benefits you rather than a third-party platform. Creating content about your union, its campaigns and members, then putting it on Facebook does nothing to help your own site. Putting that same compelling content on your site increases the likelihood that people will share it on their social networks. Having your own website means that you have control over your content — third party sites like Facebook always have the risk that it will be deleted or lost.
4. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Talking about SEO, many unions have asked me “how can we drive traffic to our site?” If garnering lots of visitors to your site is a priority, then having control over your own union website is essential. Having a new, modern website that meets contemporary standards will mean that your content is more likely to have good search engine results. When properly coded and managed, your union’s website delivers natural and sustaining search results (due to search engine optimisation) that drive traffic to the exact pages on your site where you want visitors to be.
Unions are used to making data-driven decisions on organising, recruitment and finances. It’s time to step up to online analytics, and at the moment you get the best analytics from website tools. Most social networking analytics are still rather rudimentary, with the more in-depth tools costing a small fortune. Free analytics tools for websites, like Google Analytics, given you world-class tools to examine your website and your online campaigning.
UPDATE: A Bonus 6th Reason: Joining
No matter how whiz-bang your Facebook or Twitter page is, there are only two ways potential members can join your union: using a hard-copy membership form and on your website. If your union’s website doesn’t have a page for potential members to join, then stop reading this blog and go and set one up right now. Having a page to join up new members is really one of the most important functions that your website can have. The good news is that you can customise and tweak your join page to make it more effective. It’s generally much harder to do the same for hard-copy membership forms (although it is possible).
Now, I’m not suggesting you drop social media. I’m advocating that your union should invest in a quality, professional and modern website that acts as the central portal to your other online presences and tools — including email, social networking, mobile and so on.