While thousands of companies have either experimental or well-established presence on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media sites, those communities remain invisible on all but a tiny fraction of company homepages.
Why do companies hide their social media efforts from visitors?
My guess is that their reasons include
o fear that they’ll lose control of their brand if too many people know they can have a say;
o lack of cooperation between marketing and IT;
o and perhaps pressure from lawyers who are nervous about new-fangled new media.
It’s hard to find a company website whose homepage easily and clearly allows visitors to see all of the its social media initiatives. You’d have to be Nancy Drew to find the company blog on most websites, or its Facebook page, or all of its YouTube videos.
Starbucks new homepage, recently re-designed, stands head and shoulders above the rest for clarity, ease of use and organization. Clean and clear, it has a community heading above the fold, and clearly lists Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, among other links.
A few companies try to curate their content effectively, including:
o Dell tries, although you have to click into Community to find them on Twitter, Facebook, and so on;
o HP (although Connect with Others is a more than a little bit vague IMO).
o Zappos, whose CEO was a Twitter pioneer, has absolutely no indication of its community features on its homepage, although its new Zeta site, now in beta, includes an area about the company culture that will lead you to company blogs. But you still have to look hard to find it.
o On Walmart’s site you have to scroll to the bottom of the homepage, and there’s something called Connect and Share, which leads you, via the headline “Connect with other customers like you” (whatever that means,) eventually, to the company blogs, etc.
The more things change….
Back in 2006, i wondered why companies were hiding their blogs. Most still don’t feature them prominently on the homepage, and I think the reasons are still the same:
“Literally thousands of CEOs, marketing officers, analysts, engineers and other corporate employees are blogging. Yet you’ll be hard-pressed to find most corporate blogs through the company web sites. My guess is that lawyers or PR departments are a more than a little nervous about this whole new media, “listen to your customers” thing, so they said “Well, ok, we can try it, but don’t make the damn blog too easy to find.”
A comment by Diane Ensey summed it up well:
“… that is one way to avoid having to face critical comments on your blog!”