Going Digital - Part Two

Part 2: Strategic change by the books

After our attempts at a website for teenagers and our first Facebook page, our next concerted attempt at building an online presence came when we decided to redesign our main website in 2014.

At the time traffic to our existing site had slowed to a crawl and our site design and layout were quite dated as well. We had received feedback that visitors to the site were finding it difficult to get the information they needed, so there was a pressing need to develop a site that was more user friendly and more responsive to the needs of our customers and compatible with the growing trend of accessing websites using smart phones. We also needed a website that told the story of the Republic Group as a unified organisation that, by 2014, had grown to include subsidiaries in Barbados, Grenada and Guyana. A key goal for us was not only to improve the usability of our websites but also to give all of the sites across the group the same look and feel to communicate the message that we were indeed one organisation, delivering the same standard of excellent service across the region.

It turns out that redesigning these websites would be the easy part of building our online presence! We started by conducting extensive research so that we could better understand the needs that would bring persons to our site and so we could use our site to provide information and support in ways that easily accessible, efficient and timely. We also held regular meetings with stakeholders across our organisation to ensure that there was agreement at all levels on the direction and content of our sites. Although this process took a lot of time it allowed us to determine problems and opportunities for the use of our site and helped to ensure that there was buy-in and support across our organisation for the final outcome.

On the other hand, our second attempt at social media would require a completely different approach. To begin with, there was more apprehension surrounding our proposal to build our presence on social media. After our first attempt and having seen a couple examples of social media blunders causing damage to other brands and their relationships with their customers, our leadership were understandably concerned that social media could do more to hurt than help us if our pages were not managed well.

To secure the confidence of our leadership team and of our wider staff we needed to adopt an entirely different approach to building our social media presence. This time, were determined to build our social media presence by the books, following a clear plan with set goals and strategies for what we wanted to achieve and how we were going to communicate with our target audiences.

The most time consuming, but also the most important stage of building our social media presence was developing a digital strategy. Looking back, this was the step that made all the difference between our less successful attempt at social media and the attempt that got us to where we are today. We worked for months to develop a strategy that would prepare us to fully leverage all of the advantages of engaging persons on social media while hopefully avoiding the pitfalls placing special focus on building the capacity of our teams through training and through bringing on additional staff, acquiring supporting social media analysis and monitoring tools like Hootsuite and Zero Fox and using data analytics to better inform our decisions and actions.

In addition to giving us a clear direction for how we would use our social media pages, the process of putting together a plan helped resolve many of the internal concerns about how they could impact our brand. Our strategy gave us the buy-in we needed to push forward to the next chapter and the confidence that this time, we would definitely get it right. The only thing left to do was to put the plan into action!

So, with a sound plan in place and our team behind us, nothing could possibly go wrong right? Next week I’ll tell you all about our encounter with Murphy’s Law that whatever can go wrong will, and how we finally gained the momentum to grow and sustain our online community.

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