5 Things Your Company Could Learn From Web Celebs

August 18, 2008

A recent Wired article details the rise of Julia Allison, one of a long list of people who have managed to become Web Celebs without really doing anything worthy of fame.  Whether it's making a viral YouTube video about your new haircut or crying about Britney's VMA performance, there have now been dozens of people and companies that have become Web Celebs and built their own online brand.

Allison's claim to fame is blogging and tweeting just about everything she does...not to mention having a string of famous boyfriends.  While it's easy for many organizations to write off her online success as annoying and pandering - there are still several things that organizations can learn from her to help build their brand online.

  1. Be Innovative - The Web Celeb clique have each been innovative in their own way.  Whether it was a new style of humor or being unprecedentedly open about personal secrets, most web celebs have done something innovative to call attention to themselves.  Organizations don't necessarily need to do something as risky as these tactics, but they should still keep up with the technology curve, which will usually make them seem innovative compared to their peers.  Whether it's linking to Twitter and Facebook, Embracing Flash Video, Blogging, or allowing consumers to discuss your product on the site (we did something like this for the Saranac Beer website), it's important to not let your site fall behind the times.
  2. Keep Generating Good Content - Each of the aforementioned celebs constantly generates content.  While it's not as important for a normal business or nonprofit to post content on their site by the hour, they should refresh their news, blog, and other elements each week.  One easy way to do this is to manage your website with a Content Management System - the system will make it easy and painless to frequently update your site's content.
  3. Start a Conversation - It's important to prompt your audience for feedback and give them the opportunity to get in contact with you.  This includes writing open ended blog posts that prompt responses or just simply giving people an easy way to reach out to you.  This conversation will make the experience at your site that much more relevant to the visitor, and when they hear back from you, it will encourage them to come back and visit again.
  4. Know Your Audience - Julia Allison knows that visitors to her website want to read about her dates and details about her social life - so, she gives people what they want and they continue to visit and refer other visitors.  By tailoring your content to your specific audience, you'll build a better connection with visitors to your site and encourage them to return.  This can be difficult at times - we recently completed building a new website for a national nonprofit, and it was tough to balance addressing potential donors, applicants, and others, as each comes from a different demographic.  However, after some work, we were able to find ways to make it very intuitive for stakeholders to quickly access the information that mattered most to them. 
  5. Don't Give Up Easily - Many of the web celebs had blogged for years or posted dozens of videos before they found their celebrity.  If you're site doesn't instantly receive the traffic you were hoping for, don't get discouraged.  Keep generating good content and working to improve your site, and someone will take notice.  Once you start to build a following, it will grow exponentially, so it's important to keep at it and don't get discouraged.

These tips will help turn your static site into a more heavily trafficked online brand.  It doesn't happen over night, and for some, it may never happen.  However, by following the examples of people who have successfully built their own online brands, you can greatly improve your site, traffic, and reputation.

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