Are you using the right people for your web needs?

Nov 29, 2012   //   by Joel   //   Blog Posts, Leadership, Social Media  //  View Comments

Time and time again I’ve been told that companies are trusting their online presence, their websites, and their social media campaigns “the IT guy” because he knows computers, therefore he must know everything about the web as well! The general rule though, is that this just isn’t the case. Your typical IT (Information Technology) staffer is (hopefully) an expert at managing your organizations software, computer hardware, computer networking needs. Some may know enough about using a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) HTML editor to put together a website, but do they really have the skills that you need to not only get the job done, but to get it done properly?

Bad web design

Web Design

Your typical web designer should generally have strengths in the following skills:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Javascript/Ajax
  • Flash
  • Graphic Design
  • Web Programming Languages (Such as PHP, ASP, Java, Perl, C#)
  • Databases (Such as MySQL, MSQL, PostgreSQL)

They should also have a sense of design, understand the psychology of colors and their impact on the user, they should be knowledgeable in User Experience and User Interfaces and understand the driving psychological factors behind these very complex and critical areas. Most IT people that I’ve met did not know what a call to action was, nor how to use one to influence a surfer’s behavior, something that is extremely important if your website serves any form of commercial purpose.

Most IT people (Of course there are going to be exceptions) will not have the strengths required to deliver a productive website. I have talked with hundreds of companies that have deployed websites by using their IT staff to create them and for the life of them could not understand why it was not performing as hoped, or, why people were insulting their website every time the subject came up.

Think about it this way, a plumber is generally good with their hands, but would you hire a plumber to build a new deck for your home? Using someone who can simply manage to do the job is not going to deliver you polished, refined, productive results.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization is a very tricky beast to tame. Once long ago when the Internet was still in its infancy, SEO was essentially putting together a web page that repeated the same words over and over again (More than the page you wanted to rank above), submit it, and you’d get top ranking. The web traffic would pour in for 24 hours and then you’d have to make another page and do it all over again. Today, however, things have changed dramatically. Depending on the Search Engine that you’re trying to optimize for, the rules can be very different. The tools can be very different. The results can be extremely different.

Search Engines are the life blood of the Internet, every single day literally billions of people use Search Engines to find information about subjects they’re interested in. Being included ranked high up in these search results can make or break your company’s online program.

The landscape of search is changing rapidly. Every time Google makes an algorhythm update you can go from first page to page 47 and never understand why. Being competitive in the Search rankings takes a lot of time, effort, research and trial and error. Your IT person may know a thing or two about SEO, but with SEO changing dramatically and often, they would need to devote a lot of time to learning how to get results. If you’re lucky and are in a market where your keywords are not heavily saturated and there is low competition this is the one time your IT person may get lucky and actually be the right person. Otherwise, I would recommend that you outsource this to an expert to get the best results.

Social Media

Social Media would generally fall under the Marketing umbrella. Most IT people that I’ve met do not know much about marketing. Why? I used to wonder that myself until a colleague explained it to me from her point of view. She explained that technical people in her experience often do not understand people, how they think, how they react to stimuli, or how to predict what will happen next. Since Marketing is all about understanding people, entrusting your Social Media Marketing to a technical person, may not be your best choice.

Some skills / qualifications of a Social Media Manager* may look like:

  • Developed and managed marketing programs previously
  • Uses Social Media extensively in both their professional and personal lives (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc)
  • Has managed a community for at least one year
  • Has experience running projects
  • Has managed brand or project line for more than one year
  • Has demonstrated a strong ability to forge lasting relationships across multiple platforms
  • Understands the difference between vertical and lateral action when it comes to engagement, both customer and community, knows how to leverage both, and when
  • Knows how to expertly defuse heated customers in public forums

(* Note, I use the term Manager because they are managing the Social Media aspect of your company)

The Bottom Line

I understand why a lot of organizations fall into the choices that they make, sometimes it’s they don’t understand the nuances or importance of what they’re trying to accomplish, and sometimes it’s driven by budget. In the long run however, your company’s reputation can be greatly influenced by your web presence. Do you want the influence to be positive, or do you want it to ensure that someone will choose another company that invested the time and money to do it properly the first time?

What tasks do you see being given to IT personnel that they simply should not be doing? How do you see it affecting the business? I’d love to hear from you!

About Joel:
Joel brings a seasoned perspective to his work, highly focused on tailored and sustainable solutions for his clients. With nearly 20 years of professional experience specializing in SMB (Small and Medium Business), Joel has an innate ability to see through a business' problems and find customized solutions that work for them.
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