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The About Us Page in a Social World
Posted on November 18th 2012
Since my column about the Power of the About Us page (remember 2006 when MySpace was really popular) was written, not a week goes by that I don’t receive a comment about it. Every website needs an “About Us” page, it’s one of the most important but undervalued elements of a company’s website. This is especially true in a world where social media profiles allow us to connect content to people. The “About Us” page needs to show and tell about a company’s human side.
“About Us” is often the most neglected page on any website; if the page exists at all. It can put a human face on an otherwise technical, dry, and impersonal website. Properly written, it can provide some serious buying resolve to certain customer segments.
Humans want to connect with other humans. That’s easy to forget in an overly-transaction-focused business world. This critically important page allows visitors to connect if done well. However, this really important page seems to be the most difficult for so many to write about themselves.
As brands (from startups to multi-nationals), we should want people to like us, to share our values, to feel validated by doing business with us. How are we supposed to get them to do this if we don’t connect with them on a human level in a “human voice”?
What Your “About Us” Page Should be About
The purpose of the “About Us” page is to break down the facade of confidence-destroying anonymity of the web and of corporations. The visitor who clicks on that page is giving you their permission to share with them all about your company, in the spirit of transparency and with an authentic voice that allows you to share all that makes you the organization that you are.
Most companies are never shy about talking about themselves until it comes to this page. However, when a visitor clicks on your “About Us” page it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on why they are there and what problems they need solved. Please try to remember they want to know about you but from their perspective.
7 Questions to Start Writing Your “About Us” Page
Your company exists as it is for several reasons other than to make money. You could sell one of a million different products or services, but you chose (or created) your products for a reason. That reason is the story your company has to tell and the value it has to offer. Your “About Us” page is the perfect place to tell that story. If you tell that story with integrity and passion and speak to your customer personas’ needs, you’ll have a powerful piece that will increase conversion.
Please answer for your visitor:
- Why do you do what you do? Really!
- Who are the people behind the company? Even huge companies can do this well.
- What kind of people are you? Who will I be working with or buying from?
- What are you most proud of as an organization?
- Why should your customers care about you or get know you better?
- What does your company stand for?
- What does your company stand against? – Read through AimClear’s “Our Philosophies” (bottom of the page) and you can see who their “enemy” is.
Quick tip: It may help if you query your customer/fan base to share 3-5 words that describe what they think about when they think about “your brand.”
7 Things your “About Us” page Should Do:
- Let customers see a more human side of your company. This is where you get to become more likable by including “individual information and personal interests.” E-Trade’s advertising makes it seem like a fun company, but the E-Trade “About Us” page displays none of that human personality. See how Dropbox shows and tell about the people in their company. As you navigate the page hover over the picture of anyone on the team and you get a fun blurb about the person. Or check out the bio’s and little known facts about the Raven Tool’s team.
- How do you choose the voice of your “about us” page? Here are some more ideas:
- What is the overall emotional stance that your company has towards its industry/market?
- If your company were an actual person, who would it be?
- Is there a favorite quote you or the people in your company have?
- Is there one particular moment in the life of your company that would capture its essence in a nutshell?
- Do certain words or phrases keep popping up in your daily conversations, your salespeople’s sales calls, your blog posts, etc.
- Use the verbiage your customers use. Mine your live chat logs, emails, customer service calls, in site search, and especially customer product reviews if you have them.
- As an exercise, do a “25 Random Things About Our Company.” Then pull out the nuggets and insert them into your about us page. Or leave the whole list as a link or tab from your about us page.
- Make sure your voice on the about us page is consistent with the rest of the site. Yes, you can afford to be a little more conversational and personal/passionate, but the overall writing style should be relatively consistent.
- How do you choose the voice of your “about us” page? Here are some more ideas:
- Tell your company’s story. Check out how creative PPC ad optimization company DataPop begins to tell the story of why they exist and who the people behind this startup are. SeoMoz does a nice job at sharing who they are, why they exist and sharing their company history. They go over the top in a good way at letting visitors get to know their Mozzers team members, such as Joanna Lord, their Director of Acquisition and Retention. My only wish is that they provided links to the social profiles of their team members.
- One way to do this is to use a company history timeline. such as this one from 37 Signals, it is a great way to highlight achievements without braggadocio.
- Connect people to your leadership. See how Evernote includes links to their Twitter, LinkedIn or other relevant websites next to their executives’ names. Check out the Mark Poirier’s profile page from the Acquisio Management team to see how they connect their founders to their social profiles.
- Humans are attracted to humans, so why do so few sites include photos of company employees? This is a social networking nirvana. Let’s check out how social the social media platforms are: LinkedIn which is all about connecting people, shoots off bullet point after bullet point about the company with just 5 links to their founder. FaceBook takes you to this cold profile page (they had a real hard time here – notice the copy under “About” and “Mission” are the same. Twitter at least does a good job explaining what they are but not who they are. Instagram’s about us includes a quick paragraph about the two founders and that is it. They don’t show any pictures or link off to any profiles. However, Pinterest does a great job explaining why they exist, what problem they solve and sharing pictures of numerous people from the company.
- Reflect your company’s passion. Ok, when you think of hiring a plumber, passion is not what you naturally think about. Watch this video from the founders of Austin’s Radiant Plumbing and tell me you wouldn’t think about calling them if you needed a plumber.
- Make sure to take it easy on the sales pitch and give us you and your company’s story. Show us your passion.
- Reflect your company’s personality. If you’re a fun company, your “About Us” page should be fun. Do you think MailChimp would be a fun company to work with? Behind their wonderful mascot, they even highlight their customers so you can try to relate to their stories as well.
- Many “About Us” pages seem like a copy-and-paste job from AboutUs.com. Thinking any old creative will do, will not do. The vast majority of “About Us” pages are simply boring, stiff, and tightly clenched pages.
- Let the customer inside your company. Everything about how BodyBuilding.com has had the success they have had is about profiling people. Did you begin to watch their core values video?
- I highly recommend the use of video to show off your human side. Of course, it’s important to tell us what you do, but put that content on another page. When visitors click on “About Us,” they want to know about you.
- Reiterate your company’s competence to serve the customers by using all the above tools. Take a few minutes and see how Zappos runs you through the A to Z of their company, team and culture. Google also walks you through from their mission, why their are passionate about the 10 things they believe to be true, who their management team is, why they value their corporate culture and what they do for you.
- They have more pages dedicated to this area than many company overall pages on their website
Tell me why should your customers’ care about you? Also, please feel free to share your favorite “About Us” page in the comments below.