Your Corporate Website Is Dead — but Social Audiences Can Bring It Back to Life

  |  February 26, 2014   |  Comments

Brands should turn to their social audiences, who can provide content that is authentic, constantly changing, and often beautiful and unexpected, to invigorate their corporate websites.

In November of last year, Coca-Cola declared on their blog that "the corporate website is dead." What did they mean? That they were going to bet big on brand storytelling, and that the best content is "social at its core, digital by design, and emotional."

True to their word, the company kicked off something pretty special at this year's Super Bowl with their "America Is Beautiful" campaign, a conversation-starting campaign that celebrated the ethnic variety of today's American citizenry. The campaign has continued with the brand now asking audiences to actively participate with selfies against the hashtag #AmericaIsBeautiful. The result is, well, simply glorious. 

Coca-Cola's declaration was important, because it speaks to a question increasingly posed by consumer brand marketers - what to do about the corporate website.

Today's consumer audiences experience most of their digital interaction through the prism of social platforms. They choose what they want to see, and the filters through which they see it. So when consumers go to a typical corporate website today, the experience is jarring. Sometimes so jarring that it makes the brand feel outdated. Even though they may visit only irregularly, people's expectations about what they should see on a consumer brand website has changed. They expect to see a more social world reflected. They expect to see friends, or at least "real" people. They expect to be engaged and entertained. And they expect to be able to participate. All this requires content - content that's fresh and dynamic, and content that's authentic.

But should brands respond by writing 10 times the content they are making already? No. Not only is that unrealistic, but that content will come off sounding unauthentic and be just more "marketing speak." Usually not useful. And definitely not authentic.

Instead, brands should turn to their social audiences. Those audiences can provide content that is authentic, constantly changing, and often beautiful and unexpected. Syndicating brand- and fan-created social content can invigorate a corporate website. As Coca-Cola said, "Today, more than ever, we believe that content is king and that syndication is the role of social." This means a partnership between the corporate website and the social presence. One place - the social network - may gently touch a consumer almost every day. The other - the corporate website - should reflect that touch with the very best that social has to offer.

The Axe brand gets this, too. They extended their Super Bowl campaign to the Axe Campaign for Peace, integrated with a contest to travel to Berlin, calling out for photos on Instagram when fans upload and tag a photo with #KissForPeace. And if you see something you particularly like in that gallery and want to share it? The Axe brand goes along for the ride. That's brand social sharing at its best.

So ask your social audiences to participate. Call out for photos, stories, content, and ideas on social. Use hashtags to tie together stories across social platforms. Ask your fans to share their thoughts, and their photos, about using your product, wearing your clothing, visiting your travel destination, watching your movie - whatever makes sense. Organize that content into galleries that shine. Reward audiences with real, or virtual, prizes for participating. Obviously moderation will be required, because, well, it's a wild world out there. But the best fan content will often be better than anything a brand will create for themselves.

This year, share the burden of invigorating your corporate website with your social fans, and bring it back to "real" life.

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Roger Katz

Roger Katz is the CEO and founder of Friend2Friend, a social media technology and solutions company that works with global brands and media agencies. Launched in 2007, Friend2Friend works with over 100 global brands through its offices in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Barcelona, Spain. During Roger's 20 years working in marketing, strategy, and social media, his career has included management and consulting roles at companies such as Photobucket, Agilent, Brocade, Quantum, Bell Labs, and Pacific Community Ventures, as well as a number of startups. Behind his marketing mind lies deep engineering expertise. He has engineering degrees from Michigan State and UC Berkeley and an MBA from Wharton. He's a cycling fanatic, aspiring guitarist, and (slow) swimmer.

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