It's been nearly a year since Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang penned his seminal post on the irrelevant corporate Web site in which he says, "[W]e're tired of the corporate website and all its happy marketing speak, stock photos of smart looking dudes or minority women crowded around the computer raving about your product, the positive press release, the happy customer testimonials, the row of executive portraits, the donations your corporate made to disaster relief, the one-sided view never ends."
Jeremiah argues that, in this age of the participatory web, marketing has spread well beyond the corporate domain and into "social networks, rating sites, chat rooms, and even blogs."
The trouble is, many companies, including SMEs, have just such a site and nothing else. What are they to do? Is it possible to make the corporate site more relevant?
Indeed it is. A number of tools are available that can not only add community elements to a site, but turn it into a full-blown social network.
KickApps provides social media applications using a SaaS on-demand model. In other words, you can deploy only the applications you need, rather than a one-size-fits-all social network. However, because the applications are hosted on KickApps servers, they can't actually be integrated into your site.
The software does allow for a deep level of customization so that site visitors wouldn't suspect they've been redirected to another site. And KickApps provides a tool to create widgets which can be deployed on your site to serve as a gateway to the applications themselves.
One person using KickApps successfully is small business marketing guru John Jantsch, of Duct Tape Marketing fame. John has deployed an online community on his DTM site called The Workbench. He uses what appears to be a full array of KickApps tools including user-generated video, audio, blogs, customizable profile pages and peer-to-peer messaging.
Another similar product that's just recently hit the scene is Flux, a "social media distribution platform for publishers." Rather than go into a long explanation here, let me refer you to a press release distributed by the company. It outlines the product offering in detail. The highest level product, Flux Custom, can be integrated into an existing Web site or built from scratch.
With tools like KickApps and Flux there is no reason your corporate site should remain irrelevant. Of course, one of the best social media applications you could ever consider using is a good old, tried-and-true blog. It's a great way to kick-start the conversation.
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