One day the boss decides that someone should be in charge of “our web site”, “our Facebook page” or whatever it is that our company has been using… Usually when a refresh is required and no one quite knows who is in charge… And you are the one chosen by the gods. Congratulations, this is a great opportunity, and I will try to give you some ideas.
The good news is this position can be a learning experience, a good stepping stone for your career and even a lot of fun. Beyond being the “it” guy or gal at your company, at the center of all things new and cool, you will also have the opportunity to generate actual value for your company, by making your customer’s lives easier, more interesting and more productive.
The bad new is there is a confusion between web media and its actual use. In the mind of your boss you will be in charge of “being on the web”, coordinating with existing marketing campaigns and presenting reports on the number of visitors and “Likes”. None of that will actually generate any value for your company, and while your boss means well, you will need to change this perception so everyone is on the same frequency and has the right expectations for the web and for you. In the end your boss is thinking of results, sales, costs, profits, growth, and you will need to make the connection with the web; fear not, you won’t be doing this on your own.
The first thing you need to ask for is a job description; If the job description doesn’t exist your HR department may need to ask a specialist to generate one, but you need to be aware that not all descriptions are equally useful, and some may put you on the wrong track.
The right job description for a Web Coordinator (or whatever it’s called at your company) will first establish two high level goals, which are “How the web affects our business” and “How we can use the web to improve our business”; together they can be heartily accepted by your boss and define a Web Medium Strategy. At the heart of these goals is knowing our business and our customers, and is not something that can be expected immediately of someone new to the position. Knowledge of our customer already exists somewhere in your company, and your first task may be to find a way to collect it, usually from stakeholders; the second part of the equation is for you to express to these stakeholders how the web is affecting their customers and how we can use the web to help their results.
A second level goal derived from this is a Content Strategy defined by specific projects, their goals, and scope. My way of generating a content strategy is through the customer’s experience with our product, unearthing specific opportunities to improve it.
A third level goal is to manage projects and in particular to understand the resources involved in each project, from Information Architecture, to Usability, to Development and Design. The Web Coordinator doesn’t need to be a specialist in these areas but needs to understand them well enough to know which ones are more important for each project and what to ask of each web specialist. There are many courses and books available to understand each area, but your boss needs to understand they will require a specific investment, mostly in time.
The wrong job description will make your life a lot harder because it falls back on a default that isn’t working, which will have you running after specialists who in the end can only generate empty media like web sites and social pages devoid of any interest for your customers and thus of results for your company. You can find a way of rating your website here.
The wrong assumption here is that we will be generating web forms like web sites, or social pages, or pretty design, or fancy technology, to which we can later bolt on some content or functionality; what we need is to be generating whatever it is that helps our customers and our business, which defines our content, which we can then deliver in whichever form our customer is using or is likely to find most useful: a very clear case of function first, form second.