Do your website users feel belonged?
Note: I use the terms “users”, “readers” and “customers” interchangeably. In this article all of them refer to the same people.
“What a waste of money”. This is what I thought when I found out that all the new business cards that were recently printed at my workplace have to be thrown away because we are changing email addresses and phone numbers. The management knew that the email ids and phone numbers are going to be changed, yet, they went ahead to print the business cards for all employees. These cards had a life span of just 2 months. I do agree that employees who deal with clients on a day-to-day basis should have up-to-date business cards. In my case, I never had a business card during the last 4 years (I am the software developer who is shielded from the clients by an army of project managers and consultants). I would have waited for another 2 months to get my business card once the new email ids and telephone numbers were in place.
But wait there is more to this story. After reflecting upon this, I can see why the management wanted business cards for all employees. We are changing our emails and domain names not because we are re-branding, but we are in the process of a merger. A merger brings a lot of new opportunities but at the same brings fear and uncertainty in each employees mind. I think that the main reason we printed these cards quickly is to make each employee feel belonged to the new merged company. A business card does not bring any monetary benefits, but it is a symbolic item that makes employees feel special, especially when you see your name with the pretty new logo and the really cool job title. A sense of belonging is very important for a company that is in the process of integration and transition. Another company I worked for in the past used to name meeting rooms with employee names. Both examples are simple actions that made the employees feel belonged.
So what does this have to do with the development of your website? Has TechThinker.com gone off topic?
The success of a company is in the hands of its employees who feel belonged to the company. Similarly the success of a website depends heavily on its users. Users who feel belonged will come back to your website again and again. A loyal user is the greatest asset to your website. They make a good portion of your web traffic, they leave valuable comments on your blog post, they write about your products and services in their websites and blogs. The bottom-line is they do a lot of work for you and may not always get a lot in return.
Do you think that your readers feel belonged? Have you taken any actions that will make your readers feel belonged?
You might answer this question by saying “I am giving my customers a superior product” or “I am giving my readers the best tips on blogging”. That’s good, keep it up. But simply giving a good product or service doesn’t make the users loyal. The moment users find something better they can leave you instantly. In my view in order to make a user feel belonged you have to go beyond just offering a good product or service. You have to find avenues to really connect with your user base.
For example, let’s take two of my favorite blogs, problogger.net and doshdosh.com. At problogger.net Darren gives his readers opportunity to do guest posts as well as he answers reader questions in blog posts. He regularly hosts open topics and allows everyone to have their own voice. At doshdosh.com Maki has excellent habit of replying to user comments. These are just two examples of creating a loyal user base. I am sure that you will have even more ideas and thoughts on how we can create a loyal user base. At TechThinker.com I have taken my first initiative in making my users feel special. I have added a form that allows my readers to tell me what kind of articles they like to see at TechThinker.com. I may not be able to write on all topics that my readers suggest. But it’s a start.
So what have you done to make your users feel belonged? Why do you think that users of your website will remain loyal to you? Share your own methods and ideas. I am sure that you can come up with very creative and innovative methods. This post is only half complete, you have to comment to make it complete. Thank you.