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Monday, September 21, 2015

Increase your online engagement

September was once New Generations month, a time dedicated towards focusing our attention on the youth through leadership development activities and other projects. The push to have younger members join Rotary has been a goal that all clubs have been relentlessly working to achieve, so naturally we begin by targeting them where they spend most of their time, online. After all, it's the younger generation that will take Rotary forward. It's not just the younger generation but all of us that spend the majority of our time online. Whether we need help looking for information or are catching up on news, we're doing it online, which means that as a Rotary Club, your focus should be on improving the way you engage with your audience online. 

We all know that at the bare minimum, we need a website, a place where the public can find contact details and information about your mission, though solely meeting the bare minimum if done haphazardly can harm us in the long run. But even with a website, how do we ensure that we can be easily found online and that we can engage with our audience. How can we share the programs we have to assist with youth development, Rotaract and RYLA projects? How can we attract more members to join the Rotary mission? What does it take to stay visible and make a memorable impact where it counts the most? The question really comes down to how can we engage with our audience to keep them informed; the answer: we have to be visible online.

Your ClubRunner site offers a fantastic level of customization, making it easier for you to adapt to new trends as they appear and encourage a high level of online engagement. In other words, you never have to worry about whether you are visible to your audience or not.

Mobile Connectivity

Did you know that connectivity to the web on a mobile device is actually greater than desktop? 
According to a recent study from ComScore, smartphone usage is actually up 394% from 2010 and tablet usage is up 1,721%.  This amount of sheer usage just goes to show the importance of having a mobile compatible site. With such high usage in place, even Google updated their search display algorithm to have mobile friendly sites rank higher.

Did you know that your ClubRunner website is already mobile friendly and you can control this setting from your Website Settings page? All ClubRunner websites are mobile friendly already so you can be sure that your message will always be delivered to your audience. Additionally, you can also add meta tags to help improve your ranking on search engines. Here, you can add keywords, descriptions, names of content authors and even custom HTML tags. Click here to see learn more about Website Settings that you can control.

Keep it Fresh

Remember how we said even having the bare minimum on your website can harm you in the long
run? If you aren't updating your website with fresh information often, your ranking actually begins to fall, which means it will become more difficult to engage with your audience online, if they can't find you.

Additionally, if you aren't updating your content often, you aren't giving a reason for your website visitors to come back to your site, and that can have a huge impact on whether or not you are able to attract younger members or any members for that matter, to your club. Make a point of adding new stories to your News or Stories widgets and place them centrally on your site. An even easier way to ensure new content appears, even without your input, is to make use of the RSS Feed widget. The RSS feed automatically draws content from sources around the web, updating the site regularly.

Keep it Simple

While you definitely need to keep your page content current and fresh, you should avoid overloading your visitors with information, that's overwhelming. Keep the essential items front and center. Content like your contact details and mission statement should be visible immediately, along with one or two items of fresh content. Other items can be placed in links in the sidebars or in the navigation menu. Building your homepage content doesn't have to be difficult. Watch our 2 part series on homepage content design to become more familiar with the Website Designer, so you can get one step closer to building a simple yet informative website.

Make it Shareable

More and more people are sharing interesting content via social media sites.  While Facebook and Twitter currently represent the lion’s share of this interaction, other social sharing sites like Tumblr and Pinterest are growing rapidly. People are engaging with the web in ways no one could have predicted just five years ago. If you want to be found by your visitors, your content needs to be available where your audience is, and that includes social sites.

Did you know that you can add a social share toolbar to your stories and site pages to allow visitors to share your content across multiple platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Blogger, Pinterest and even via email.

Make it Easy 

Have you ever visited a website that was a morass of confusing links and navigation that led you to unexpected places? One of the best ways to keep visitors engaged with your site is to make the navigation clear and intuitive. After all, as the designer of the site, you define the visitor's journey.

Categorize links to subpages clearly and always make it easy to return to the main page. The use of a Home link in the navigation menu is a good way to achieve this. Check out the articles that you have available on how you can build your website navigation menu, a great place to start categorizing content.

There's a whole lot more you can do to try and attract younger members to sign up for Rotary, youth programs, and more. Check out one of our previous articles on attracting members and be sure to comment below with your own tips!

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