Engagement is the goal in today’s web world. Engagement on the web can take many forms from simply watching, reading, or viewing to organizing, facilitating, and helping other users. A chart of engagement levels in the U.S. taken from the Trendstream Global Web Index Wave 1, July 2009, trendstream.net, by Charlene Li in her new book Open Leadership, How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead (available in our bookstore) indicates that 80% of U.S. web users are watchers, 61% are sharers, 36% make comments, 24% are producers of content and less than 1% are curators. As we establish our ministerial web presence, we need to design attractive sites, provide content that is meaningful to the visitor and facilitate engagement in as many ways as possible. A good number of our visitors expect it.
Usually, the centerpiece of web presence is the website, but a website (even a “great” website) alone is not enough to have an effective web presence. An organization, religious community or ministry also needs to be interacting with their constituents via email and social media. An organization does not need to be using every form of email communication or social media, but I think that it does needs to be using at least two platforms in addition to the website to be present to as many different generations and stakeholders as possible and to facilitate various forms of engagement. Some popular options are sending e-newsletters or e-zines, creating blogs and podcasts, presenting webinars and e-courses, and posting to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr, etc. The choice of these options is based on the content to be delivered, the intended audience and the availability of people to staff the effort.
To have an effective web presence, we must have a quality website, one that is easy to navigate, engages the visitor visually, and provides content on the home page that clearly answers the visitor’s questions. It offers visitors opportunities for further engagement both on the web through email and social media and when appropriate in person through invitations to attend events or participate in activities. Websites, email broadcasts, and social media sites need to be current (updated frequently) and relevant to their followers.
A few examples of organizations that, in my opinion, have an effective web presence using multiple platforms are:
Religious communities: Sisters of Mercy of the Americas; Carmelites of Chicago; School Sisters of Notre Dame-Atlantic-Midwest Province
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