Appoint Your Web Ambassador
Like it or not, your web presence plays an increasingly key role in your organization. Your customers and prospects, Board members, employees (current and future), volunteers, bankers, insurers, inves...
Like it or not, your web presence plays an increasingly key role in your organization. Your customers and prospects, Board members, employees (current and future), volunteers, bankers, insurers, investors, vendors, and sponsors all look to your website and your social media presence for information, resources, and community. If they don't find these things quickly, there are many other online venues for them to defect to.
There are operational efficiencies to be gained by using web technology. These can include customer services on a 24/7 basis, human resource applications, sharing of internal documents and other materials with appropriate personnel and clients, project management, and sales of revenue-generating e-books and white papers.
The opportunities are there—and they present new and unique challenges in budget and management terms. Instead of fitting conveniently into a "box" within one department of your organization, the web has the potential to impact your entire business. With good planning and implementation, your web presence should be both a revenue-generating and a cost-savings centre that positions you at the cutting edge of your industry. Without this, you could be missing out on major opportunities, and look bad to boot!
So where does your web presence "live" in your organization, and who should be in charge of it? What skill set is required? I've always joked that if your site resides in the Information Technology department, it runs the risk of having marvelous functionality but no message, and if it's placed in Marketing, it might contain stunning copy, but not work as well!
I strongly believe that every business making a serious investment in its web presence should appoint a "Web Ambassador." This person should be part of the management team. He or she should have a complete understanding of your ongoing business strategy, marketing and customer service plans, operations, etc. in order to always be able to advise on how the web can support, enhance, and grow those objectives. This is the person who will be responsible for the high-level, 30,000ft perspective, as well as overall supervision of those who drill down into all aspects of your web activities.
Although I don't believe that this role requires direct programming skills, your Web Ambassador should have enough technical knowledge to stay abreast of developments in technology from a business perspective and to evaluate potential enhancements to your web presence as recommended by your designer or others.
This person should also be able to analyze the traffic information for your web presence, or to appoint someone who can do this (whether internal or external). It's important that he or she can formulate critical questions about your online performance based on in-depth knowledge of your strategies and desired outcomes, so that you can evaluate your return on investment at a sophisticated level, and make appropriate changes to your content, social media, and marketing tactics.
Your Web Ambassador should have regular contact with all of your various business areas, be open and available to listen to colleagues and customer feedback, and take into consideration their requests and suggestions for future enhancements.
I also recommend that you put your website and social media presence on your management meeting agenda at least every quarter. At this time, the Web Ambassador can report on progress and suggested improvements—with possible costs, projected benefits, and appropriate priorities for each one.
Ideally, the Web Ambassador should report directly to your Chief Executive Officer. This position should have sufficient authority within the organization to be a respected voice at the table, and to be heard during budget and spending policy discussions. It's vital to ensure that the web presence is adequately represented in these, since it's key to so many areas of your business.
Perhaps the Web Ambassador becomes an entirely new position for you, or perhaps you already have the ideal person. Either way, the strategic importance of your website and social media presence demands that this is a senior role.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This excerpt, courtesy of author Philippa Gamse, CMC, is Rule 2 from "42 Rules for a Web Presence That Win". Philippa is a web strategist and professional speaker with over 15 years of experience helping businesses, associations and nonprofits to drive online success and increased revenue. You can learn more about Philippa and purchase the book at http://42rules.com/book/42-rules-for-a-web-presence-that-wins/