Businesses that are going to have an active presence on the Web need to operate like a Web company. They need to post new content and quickly, measure what’s working, and participate in social media.
I recently received a rather intriguing lunch invitation. I was to go visit a high-end San Francisco health clinic (I'm being vague on purpose here) and discuss my company Kosmix's viewpoint on where the Web is going, as expressed through one of our products. It was a great discussion and while the situational specifics are unimportant, the larger points are hopefully useful to many small and mid-sized businesses.
This clinical practice has a leadership that understands, in broad strokes, the need to have a very strong online presence. They recognize the competitive advantage of being an information hub for this niche area of science and medicine. What's more, they've even taken several solid steps in this direction by creating an actively updated blog, a newswire-style website, and a more "static" site that hosts long-form articles written by medical experts. Compared to the broader brick-and-mortar world, this is a trailblazing organization.
We talked a lot about what it takes for a brick-and-mortar business to create a standalone site that's more than a boring PR mouthpiece. That was this company's primary goal and I'd like to share a few of our many discussion points with you (your mileage will vary based upon your specific goals).
Operate like a Web company
This one is so obvious it is most often overlooked. I've seen a lot of small companies focus on detail-level issues like the number of pages indexed by Google while ignoring the bigger picture philosophical commitment. Operating your Web "group" like a Web company requires a mindset that's endemic to the nature of the Web as a medium. Here's what you need to do:
In summary, turning your Web content into a standalone, vibrant Web property that's not just a cost center or a marketing sideshow requires hard work and deep leadership commitment. More personally, I'm hopeful that my friends over at the health clinic will commit and dive into the wonderful Web, and so too, will you.
Saumil Mehta is a product fanatic at Kosmix and an all-around Internet business geek. He tweets with nary a hint of self-promotion at @saumil and blogs about technology and personal rants at http://bitbubble.wordpress.com